Daniel Horton Havre Daily News email@example.com
The Class C boys basketball tournament is underway yesterday and the heavily favored Rocky Boy Stars and Big Sandy Pioneers got off to very impressive starts during round one action. The best Class C teams in the state have gathered at the Metra Park Rimrock Auto Arena in Billings, and both the Stars and Pioneers recorded wins early on Thursday. But after the Pioneers defeated the Winnett-Grass Range Rams 56-32 in the morning's play-in game. And in the Stars defeated the Shields Valley Rebels 64-53 later in the day, the Pioneers dropped their second game of the day. Thursday night. The Twin Bridges Falcons defeated the Pioneers 65-50. “Anytime you win your first game at a tournament it’s big.” Big Sandy head coach Sonny Broesder said.” We came out with some intensity and maintained that intensity pretty much throughout the whole game.” With the tough schedule that lies ahead of the Pioneers, they knew the importance of a win in the morning, and they came out firing against the Rams. The Pioneers opened up the game with a 9-0 run and quickly jumped to an 11-2 lead with 1:44 still left in the first quarter of play. “We played well.” Broesder said. “We did some things in those first four or five minutes that really set the tone for the rest of the game.” Blake Brumwell led the first quarter surge by putting six points on the board in the first eight minutes. And though the Rams managed a 4-0 run to end the first quarter, the Pioneers took a 13-6 lead into the second frame. The Rams drew first blood in the second quarter with a Justin Martinez two-point field goal, but the Pioneers' defense wasn’t letting them gain any ground. And the Pioneers offense did their part by stretching the lead to 22-8 on another 9-0 run. Heading into the lockerroom at half the Pioneers were dominating the Rams both offensively and defensively. They were holding a 27-12 lead and got six kids on the score sheet, while the Rams only managed three. Sam Dembek led the Rams with six points, and Corbin Pearson led all first half scores for the Pioneers with his eight. But when the third quarter rolled around the Pioneers offense wasn’t quite clicking on all cylinders. “We kind of had a stale run there.” Broesder said. “We just didn’t produce and got a little bit too comfortable with our lead. We didn’t maintain our intensity.” The Rams outscored the Pioneers 15-12, and gained a little bit of ground.. The Pioneers were still leading 39-27 after three quarters, but the Rams were doing everything they could to stick around. That was until the Pioneers stepped their game back up in the fourth by starting out with a 14-0 run on the Rams, taking a 53-27 lead with 4:00 still left on the clock. “The intensity level really picked back up.” Broesder said. “We finished up strong and that’s what you like to see." The defense was strong for the Pioneers all game long. Like the offense they did have a couple weak areas, but overall it was very dominant over the Rams. The Pioneers defense dominated the boards, and never allowed the Rams to go on any points runs more than a couple of buckets. “We didn’t give them the second and third shot opportunities.” Broesder said. “They got one shot at the basket and we intimidated them on some of their shots. I was pleased with our defensive effort.” Brumwell went on to lead all of the scoring efforts with 16 points for the Pioneers, with 10 coming in the second half. And right behind him was Pearson with his 14 points, The win over Winnett- Grass Range avenged a loss to the Rams two weeks ago at the divisional tournament. In game two of the afternoon, the Stars also found themselves on the winning end of their first game of the tournament, 64-53 over the Rebels. It was an uncharacteristic start for the Stars. The Rebels got off to a 7-2 run to start the first, and after the first eight minutes they held a 16-11 lead over the Stars. But when the second quarter began the Stars looked a little more comfortable. Throughout the first half the Stars were getting looks at the basket, but they just couldn’t get shots to fall. A lot of that had to do with the Rebels man to man defense, but Henry also thinks some first game jitters may have had something to do with their missed shots. “We hadn’t played for a while.” Rocky Boy head coach Tim Henry said. “But we got a lot of good looks, we just didn’t convert them. But I have to give Shields Valley some credit, I thought they were playing harder than us.” The Stars slowly chipped away at the leading Rebels through the second quarter, but on a Rebels' 6-0 run they stretched their lead back to 26-18 with less than three minutes to go in the half. But things quickly turned around for the Stars when they got a big push from their defense. At the two-minute mark they began to apply a heavy full-court- - press on the Rebels, and managed to force four quick turnovers. The Stars ended the half on a 10-0 run, and they found themselves taking a 28-26 lead into the half. “It’s just like I said.” Henry said. “When we are getting good things out of our defense, good things happen for us.” While the Stars struggled from the field going 8-of-27 for about 30 percent, free throws really kept them in it. They were 12-of-16 from the line as a team and Anfernee Standing Rock led that effort going 5-of-6 in the first half. “I thought we were being pretty aggressive.” Henry said. “We wanted to get inside and get the ball into Erik (Schildt) and Glen (Doney) and it worked out.” And after the way the Stars had to claw their way back into contention in the first half, it was no surprise they weren’t about to give up their lead in the second. In the first four minutes of the third quarter the Stars' Jerod Parker gave his offense the spark they were looking for by hitting three 3-point shots. The Stars jumped all over the Rebels and took a 40-30 lead before ending the quarter with a 54-40 lead. “At times, Jerod (Parker) is about as pure of a shooter as you can get for a high school kid.” Henry said. “He played well today and that was big for us.” The Rebels weren’t going to just roll over for the Stars, and they made numerous attempts to get back in this game. The Rebels started the final quarter of play with a 4-0 run and brought the game within nine after Ryan Ferguson nailed a three with less than 2:30 left on the clock. But when Parker hit his fourth trey of the game he ended any hopes the Rebels had of making a comeback. The Rebels did outscore the Stars 13-10 in the fourth, but Parker finished with 17 points, and led the Stars to their first round victory. Josh Sheele led the Rebels with 14 points, and Ferguson scored 10, giving them their only two players in double figures, while the Stars finished with four in double figures. Joining Parker was Schildt with 12 points and Lindsey Eagleman and Mike Sangrey Jr with 10 each. “Anytime you win at state it has to be a satisfying win.” Henry said. “I wouldn’t have cared if we won by one point, if you win by one you still play the next night.” The Pioneers and Stars both got the tournament started out on the right foot with wins, but before the first day was all over the Pioneers had one more obstacle. And in an attempt to keep their championship hopes alive, the Pioneers faced off against the Falcons on Thursday night where they suffered a tough loss. “Twin Bridges is a very good basketball team.” Broesder said. “We didn’t do a very good job keeping them off the boards and we didn’t defend the perimeter. They just out-hustled us and to beat them we would have had to have played as well as we could ever play.” The first quarter of play started out tight. The game was tied early at 2-2, and then again at 7-7. But the Falcons closed out the first quarter with a 10-2 run to take a 17-9 lead over the Pioneers. And in the second quarter the Falcons were still hot. But the scoring was back and fourth as the Pioneers tried to narrow the gap. Austin Mailey opened up play with a big three and gave the Falcons an 11-point lead. And when the Pioneers came within nine with four minutes in the half, Mailey nailed another three. But the Pioneers just couldn’t get back in it. Whenever they made up some ground the Falcons would knock down a big shot to stretch the lead back out to double digits. Late in the quarter the Pioneers went on a 6-2 run to make the score 29-22 Falcons, but once again the Falcons knocked down a three, this time by Ryan Trilsta. The second half wasn’t much better for the Pioneers. They ended the night with 15 turnovers, and off of those, the Falcons scored 18 points. And on the night, the Pioneers shot only 39 percent from the field while the Falcons shot 43 percent overall. Scoring went back and forth again in the third, but the Falcons always had an answer. The Pioneers went on a 6-2 run to get within nine points, but the Falcons answered with an 8-0 run of their own. At the end of three quarters the Falcons still maintained a double-digit lead, fending off the Pioneers 43-33. “We had a couple of chances to get down lower than that.” Broesder said. “But we just didn’t capitalize.” The Pioneers defense just couldn’t find a way to shut down the rolling Falcons. The Falcons ended with for players in double figures, but it was ultimately Clay Pierson’s 20 points that led them to their victory over the Pioneers. And on the other side of the ball, the Pioneers offense would go through spurts of good production. But they just couldn’t find enough consistency to become a real threat. Blake Brumwell did end with 21 points and 11 rebounds, but even that combined with Pearson’s 19 wasn’t enough to get things done. “We started taking better shots and having more patience.” Broesder said. “Earlier in the game I think we forced some things. At this point there are no excuses. We put ourselves in this position by how we performed at divisionals so we knew we had a tough route.” After the tough loss the Pioneers turn right back around for another tough game this afternoon. At 12:30 p.m. the Pioneers face the Harlowton/Ryegate Engineers in a loser-out game, where both teams try and make it to the consolation game. “That’s a game that I think we should win.” Broester said. We can get back on track and we can be in the consolation championship. We didn’t get the job done tonight (Thursday) so that’s all that’s left for us it to go for third.” And after the Stars captured their 24th win of the season to stay undefeated they too have a tough game today. At 6:30 p.m. the Stars take on the Culbertson Cowboysin the semifinals. “Like I said before, we’re not going to change anything.” Henry said. That’s what has gotten us this far. We are 24-0 now and we’re not going to make any adjustments t what we have been doing.” In the other two first round matchups on Thursday the Cowboys defeated the Broadview/Lavina Pirates 79-67, and the Scobey/Peerless Spartans defeated the Engineers 60-53.