GREAT FALLS — In your first game of the divisional tournament, slow starts and jangled nerves aren’t uncommon. But for the first time in years, tournament experience played a key role in a Chinook boys basketball victory.
The 9C champion Sugarbeeters shrugged off early shooting woes and wound up with a comfortable 59-48 Northern C opening-round win over Stanford-Geyser on Thursday afternoon at the Four Seasons Arena in Great Falls.
The Beeters used torrid shooting in the second and third quarters to win going away. But more importantly, it was their experience which played a crucial role in beating the upstart Wolverines.
“Having four starters, who are all seniors who played in this tournament last year really helps,” Chinook’s Chris Haider said. “It really helped when things got tight today, and it will always help down the stretch of games. We have a lot of experience on this team and I think it paid off for us today.
“You can never put on a price on experience,” Chinook head coach Chris Daniel added. “Today, things started off a little sketchy for us. But I think our experience here last year really helped us calm down and get things going in the right direction.”
And so did Haider’s shooting, as well as the Beeters as a whole.
Chinook led 12-8 at the end of the first quarter, but with 4:34 to play in the first half, the Beeters found themselves leading the 7C runner-up Wolverines just 18-16. And that’s when the 3-pointers started to fall. Haider and Lane Schmitt combined for four triples in the second stanza, and Chinook ran off a 10-0 run to jump in front 31-18 at the break.
And the third quarter got even better.
Taylor Erskine knocked down several big shots in the third period as the Beeters managed to maintain a double-digit lead. And while the Wolverines made a valiant effort behind 21 points and five steals from Dylan Woodhall, Chinook was never really threatened down the stretch.
Haider and Erskine each scored 16 points, as Chinook went 8-for-15 from beyond the arc. Haider poured in four treys, and Erskine hit two. Schmitt added 14 points and two three’s, while Tyler Molyneaux chipped in with nine points and 12 rebounds. As a team, Chinook shot 50 percent from the field, 51 percent from three and 87 percent from the foul line – outstanding numbers for opening day of the Northern C. And as a result, the Beeters are on their way to the semifinals for the second straight season.
“I thought we really took advantage of our size today,” Daniel said. “That was a big factor in our favor. And then those 3-pointers started going in, and they were all big shots. Chris (Haider) is one who kind of struggled shooting the ball in this building last year, so I’m really happy for him that he was able to have the night he had. I’m really proud of that kid.
“I think shooters are at their best when they can just catch and shoot, they don’t think about anything, they just shoot,” Haider said. “I was able to move around and find holes in their zone and I was able to just catch and shoot. And it felt good.”
And also feels good that Chinook (19-4) is moving on in the winner’s bracket. But the Beeters have a big challenge in front of them in the way of Dutton-Brady (20-1). The Diamondbacks took out Fort Benton on Thursday morning, and they beat Chinook back in December in Big Sandy. But the Beeters were without Molyneaux, who was still nursing a football injury in December, so Daniel is hoping this time around, things will be different.
“It’s a big task to beat that team,” Daniel said of the Diamondbacks. “We’ve only been outsized two other times this season, but this game will be one where we are. They are big, athletic and quick and they have good shooters. They are a very complete team, so we’ll have our hands full.
“But having Tyler this time around will help tremendously, because he makes such a difference for us defensively and on the boards,” he added. “So we’ll come out ready to play and see what happens this time against them.”
Chinook and Dutton-Brady will face off at 4 p.m. today with a spot in the Northern C boys championship on the line.
Winifred-Roy 68, Box Elder 49
What makes the Box Elder boys basketball team so dangerous is their high tempo offense and pressure defense. But on a night where both sides didn’t come together as planned, the Bears struggled.
Thursday evening at the Northern C divisional basketball tournament at the Four Seasons Arena in Great Falls, the No. 2 9C bears fell in first round action. And handing the Bears the 68-49 loss was the No. 1 7C Roy-Winifred Outlaws.
The Bears have found a lot of success this season with their unique style of play.
The Bears didn’t press on defense the entire first half on Thursday. They also settled for jump shots rather than attacking inside like they do so well. In fact the tables were turned, and the Bears were up against a very tough press from the Outlaws from almost beginning to end.
“I think we were very tentative with the ball,” Box Elder head coach Zane Rosette said. “We didn’t want to attack and that’s our game. We have to attack the hoop, and we didn’t even shoot free throws because we were settling for jumpers. But a lot of that I credit to the Roy-Winifred defense, we just let them dictate how we were going to play on offense.”
In the first quarter the Bears trailed 13-8 after 4-of-10 ten shooting and six turnovers. Things didn’t get much better in the second quarter, but the Bears stayed competitive. Box Elder shot 4-of-11 in the second frame, but coughed the ball up nine more times. And at the break the Bears trailed 28-17 and had yet to shoot a free throw.
But coming out of the lockerroom, the Bears knew they needed to be more aggressive. Fouls are usually frowned upon, but the Bears know fouls are just a part of life when they play the way they do. And after committing just four first half fouls, the Bears knew they had to make some changes.
The Bears did come out and press in the third quarter, but the Outlaws’ offense still produced. They outscored the Bears 18-11 in the third and put the game away.
Jacob Parker led the Bears with 12 points and Jesse Ramos followed with 10. Warren Parisian also added eight points.
The Bears are hoping to shake any tournament jitters or nerves in time for their next game. Box Elder will face Highwood early this morning in loser out action.
Chinook 59, Stanford-Geyser 48
Chinook 12 19 11 17 – 59
Stanford-Geyser 8 10 14 16 – 48
Chinook – Lane Schmitt 3-8 6-6 14, Grant Tilleman 0-0 2-2 2, Zach Molyneaux 1-2 0-0 2, Taylor Erskine 6-8 2-2 16, Tyler Molyneaux 4-8 1-1 9, Chris Haider 6-14 0-2 16. Totals: 20-40 11-13.
Stanford-Geyser – Neil Schott 4-7 0-0 9, Dylan Woodhall 7-17 6-6 21, Lander Ridgeway 1-9 0-0 2, Ty Martin 3-9 0-0 6, Mathew Metcalfe 1-1 0-0 2, Shad Connerton 4-6 0-0 8. Totals: 20-49 6-6.
Roy-Winifred 68, Box Elder 49
Box Elder 8 9 11 21 – 49
Roy-Winifred 13 15 18 22 – 68
Box Elder – Chris LaMere 2-4 0-0 6, Randall Gardipee 4-4 0-0 9, Dakota Standing Rock 1-2 2, Warren Parisian 4-10 8, Jacob Burns 1-2 0-0 2, Jesse Ramos 4-10 0-0 10, Jacob Parker 6-10 0-0 12.
Roy-Winifred – Jory Chest 0-6 5-6 5, Lee Thompson 1-1 0-0 3, Chaz Kananen 8-13 3-4 21, Daris Wichman 1-3 0-0 2, Tucker Matovich 1-1 0-0 3, Porter Sturm 8-14 1-2 17, Luke Stule 209 0-2 6, Clay Sluggett 1-2 0-0 2, Chad Kananed 4-10 0-0 9.
3-pointers – Box Elder 5-12 (LaMere 2, Gardipee 1, Ramos 2), Roy-Winifred 4-14 (Thopson 1, Chaz Kananen 1, Matovich 1, Chad Kananed 1). Total Fouls – Box Elder 11, Roy-Winifred 8.