George Ferguson Havre Daily News sports editor email@example.com
The Northern B divisional boys basketball tournament couldn't have started any worse for the Harlem Wildcats. On Thursday, Harlem was forced to forfeit the opening game of the tournament in Cut Bank because of a warmup dunk that broke a backboard. The forfeit loss to Shelby made Harlem's chances of returning to the Class B state tournament daunting, but the Wildcats did everything they could to make it happen. On Friday morning, Harlem bounced back form the bizarre circumstance on Thursday by eliminating District 2B rival Poplar 68-54 in a loser-out game. The Wildcats took a 23-14 lead in the first quarter and played inspired basketball throughout, never trailing Poplar in the game. Isaiah Martin scored a game-high 23 points to lead the Wildcats to victory, while Elias Goes Ahead chipped in with 16 points and nine rebounds and Jake Rider added 18 points. The win kept Harlem's season alive for at least one more day, and the Wildcats were just getting warmed up. On Saturday morning, Harlem squared off against the host Cut Bank Wolves, and with both teams facing their season coming to an end, they waged a classic battle with Cut Bank prevailing 76-73 in overtime. In a great first half, it was Cut Bank who tried to pull away in the second quarter, as the Wolves led 31-28 at halftime. Harlem fought back in the third quarter and tied the game early in the fourth. The two teams wound up even, both missing game-winning shots in the final seconds of regulation, but it was Cut Bank which was able to edge the Wildcats in the extra frame, bring Harlem's season to an end. Martin scored a game-high 28 points in the loss, while Goes Ahead scored 21 and Rider added 12. Cut Bank went on to lose to Shelby in the consolation game on Saturday night while Fairfield beat Conrad in the championship game. On Monday night in Cut Bank, Shelby, the defending Class B state champions, beat Conrad in a challenge game to advance to this week's Class B state tournament at the Brick Breeden Fieldhouse in Bozeman.