Loren Standing Rock is one of the many talented role players on the No. 1 Rocky Boy boys basketball team. But on Thursday afternoon, Standing Rock played perhaps the biggest role in Rocky Boy's recent basketball history. With their perfect season on the line and their state championship hopes ticking away with every second, Rocky Boy erased a one-point deficit and beat the Shepherd Mustangs on a Standing Rock layup as time expired the opening round of the Class B state tournament at the Four Seasons Arena in Great Falls. The Stars defeated the Mustangs 60-59 as Standing Rock accepted a perfect pass from teammate Lyndsey Eagleman and let the ball go just as the final buzzer sounded with Rocky Boy trailing 59-58 at the time of the shot. "We just kept playing hard till the end," Standing Rock, who had just five points, none bigger than the final two said. "We weren't sure what was going to happen at the end. But we always trust and go with the plays that are called. And these are the times when all our hard work pays off. That's what it's all about. "I wasn't sure if it was going in, but I was hoping it would," said Rocky Boy head coach Tim Henry. "We're really excited about this. We didn't give our best effort today, it wasn't a star effort. But we're excited to win, we're really excited to be here and now we just have to come back and hope we play better tomorrow." The win, Rocky Boy's first-ever state tournament victory in Class B, pushed the Stars (24-0) into tonight's semifinal against 23-1 Florence. It's a meeting of the Class B's top two teams, but for a time, it looked as though the Stars might not get there. "I thought we would have played better," Henry said. "But we came out a little nervous. It wasn't our best game today. We know we can play better. But give the other team credit for that too. The Shepherd boys really came to play today. They played a great game, and gave us all we wanted." The Mustangs, who trailed almost the entire contest, looked like they might pull off a huge upset in the waning moments. After a tight first half, in which the Stars led just 25-21 at intermission, they caught fire in the third quarter. Leisin Oats and Eric Schildt combined for 11 of the Stars' 17 third-quarter points, and with 4:31 left in the game, the Stars had their largest lead of 11 points. But the Mustangs, which shot a solid number from the 3-point-line, didn't go away. In a wild fourth quarter, Shepherd's Lee Hanson helped the Mustangs erase the deficit, and he wound up tying the game at 56-56 with :27 and an offensive rebound off a miss led to the Mustangs leading 57-56 seconds later. Standing Rock, who was in on all of the final plays, then made to big foul shots to put the Stars back in front 58-57, but Shepherd's Jake Mushaben scored on the ensuing possession to put the Mustangs up one with :13 left to go. He was also fouled on the play, but missed the free throw, which set up Rocky boy's lastsecond, game-winning possession. On the final play, Eagleman, who scored 13 points, had the ball all the way, drove in the lane, and found Standing Rock rolling to the hoop. The bucket went in, the buzzer sounded, the arena erupted and Rocky Boy moved on. "I think we were a little nervous," Standing Rock said. "This was our first Class B state tournament. We played a little nervous. But it's all about hard work. We kept on working and we kept on believing." Oats scored 14 points and Jarod Parker chipped in with 10 for the Stars, who shot just 40 percent from the field on Thursday. Garrett Lafromboise added seven points and seven rebounds for the Stars. The Mustangs, who drop into loser-out play this afternoon, got 19 points and seven rebounds from Hanson. Now, with the dramatic win in tow, the Stars will face Florence tonight at 6:30 p.m. in the first semifinal. Shelby, coached by former Havre High standout Tom Reynolds, plays Huntley-Project in the second semifinal, with the winners meeting in Saturday night's state championship game. "We need to have a better effort in the next game," Henry said. "I was pleased with the way we played for some of the game, but these boys know we need to play better because at this point, every team is good, every game gets tougher. So we just have to get refocused and come out ready to play."
Stars Still Standing
Rocky Boys stays perfect with a buzzer-beater in Great Falls
Published: Friday, March 5th, 2010
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