George Ferguson Havre Daily News sports editor email@example.com
GREAT FALLS Unfinished business. It was on signs, and cars and buses all weekend in Great Falls. That's been the Rocky Boy Stars' motto all season long. And while the Stars still have some unfinished business left this season, they convincingly took care of some of it on Saturday night. In the Northern C boys championship game Saturday night at the Four Seasons Arena, the unbeaten Stars put on a second-half show and blew away upstart Winnett-Grass Range 69-38 to claim the divisional championship something Rocky Boy narrowly missed doing a year ago. "This means a lot," Rocky Boy senior Mike Sangrey Jr. Said. "We wanted to come back here and get this one. We've been taking it one game at a time, and we did that this weekend. We beat three good teams, we wanted to win here in Great Falls and now it's on to state." At times on Saturday night, the Stars (23-0) made it look easy. They closed out the first quarter against a Rams team that had been a giant-killer leading up to the championship game by ripping off a 14-2 run to lead 18-8 after eight minutes of play. The Rams closed that gap to 31-24 by halftime, and then took a 33-31 lead early in the third quarter. But like he did last weekend in the District 9C championship game, Lyndsey Eagleman nailed a long 3-pointer to give the Stars the lead back, and from there, the show was on. Rocky Boy scored 18 unanswered points in the third period and took a 49-33 lead into the final stanza. And that was more than enough of a cushion for the Stars, who have continually been a second-half juggernaut this season. "We've said all year long, that for us, the first four minutes of the third quarter are the most important part of the game," Rocky Boy head coach Tim Henry said. "Tonight, it was the last four minutes of the third, but just the same, that's where we took control of the game, and I thought we really played well from that point on." Rocky Boy junior Jared Parker led four Stars in double figures with 19 points. Eagleman had a huge game, scoring 16 points, including two clutch three's. Erik Schildt and Glen Doney added 10 points each, and Sangrey Jr. Capped off a brilliant title game with eight points five steals and three assists. Meanwhile, the Rams, who are also moving on to the state tournament next week in Billings, had three players score eight points on a night when the Stars were simply too much for them. "I thought defensively, we were very good for three days," Henry said. "We really got after it down here this weekend, and our defense really got our offense going, especially tonight in the third quarter." After a rousing win in the first round on Thursday, the Stars were pushed on Friday afternoon in the semifinals by 10C champion Power. Rocky Boy never trailed in the game, but the Pirates didn't go away either. The Stars led just 14-10 after the first quarter, and the game was still in doubt heading into the fourth with Stars still only up 41-35. But Rocky Boy started the fourth quarter on a 10-0 run, capped off by baskets from Schildt and Doney, and the Pirates never really recovered as the Stars went on to win 57-44. In the semifinals, the Stars got 13 points from Schildt and 12 off the bench from Anfernee Standing Rock, and the win vaulted them into their second straight Northern C finale. "It's a big accomplishment to come down here and win," Henry said. "We had to beat three good teams in three days and we did that. This was a goal of ours, and we're proud to be divisional champions." And with their district and divisional titles in tow, the Stars will now take their perfect season to Billings for the Class C state tournament. The tourney ended in heartache for Rocky Boy last March when the Stars lost to Winifred in the state championship game. "One game at a time," Sangrey Jr. Said. "Unfinished business has been our motto. And now we get to go to state and keep taking it one game at a time. We have three more to go." Rocky Boy, Winnett-Grass Range and Big Sandy will all represent the Northern C at the state tournament March 12-14 at Metra Park in Billings. The Stars open tourney play on March 12 against either Arlee or Shields Valley of the Western Division.