Prior to the start of the 2012 District 9C boys basketball tournament, the North Star Knights might have had some doubters, given where the Knights ended up in the final regular season standings.
But doubters or not, the Knights have been for real this week in Havre, and now they stand one win away from reaching the Northern C Tournament later this week in Great Falls.
Saturday afternoon at the HHS gymnasium, the Knights got to the position of being able to challenge Chinook for a divisional berth by beating the Box Elder Bears 58-49 in the 9C consolation game.
The Knights once again rode the Jordy Donoven wave, as the senior scored a tournament-high 37 points, which helped push North Star towards tonight’s challenge game with the Sugarbeeters.
“We’ve just played with a lot of heart and a lot of determination,” Donoven, who has averaged 26 points per game in the 9C tourney said. “This was our fourth game in four days and that takes on a toll on you. But everybody on this team worked hard today, made the plays when they had to. I’m just really proud of all my teammates. And hopefully we get a chance to keep it going.”
The Knights had to scratch and claw their way past the Bears Saturday.
The Bears, who finished third in the 9C during the regular season, and challenged their way into last year’s Northern C, came out firing. Jesse Ramos knocked down three 3-pointers in the first quarter and Randall Gardipee added another as Box Elder jumped out an 18-10 lead.
Ramos and Gardipee kept up the hot shooting, leading the Bears to a 30-20 halftime lead, despite Donoven’s best efforts to keep the Knights close.
However, everything changed in the third quarter.
Donoven scored eight straight points as the third period wound down and with eight minutes left in the game, the Knights were in front 37-36. He then took over in the final frame, hitting a jumper to break a 41-41 tie, then following it up with another triple to put the Knights ahead 46-41 with 5:38 to go. From there, the Knights outscored the Bears 12-8, with Quinn Spinler and Shelby Sizemore making clutch free throws in the process. On defense, North Star held Box Elder to just one field goal in the last three minutes of an exciting contest.
“It certainly helps when you have a horse like Jordy,” North Star head coach Cody Donoven said. “He was amazing today. He’s been amazing this whole tournament.
“But I’m really proud of this whole team,” he added. “We’ve had a lot of kids step up and contribute to what we’ve done this week. And they all play with a tremendous amount of heart. That’s big.”
Donoven's 37, which was one short of his career high, came 11-of-19 shooting, and he also went a stellar 13-of-17 from the foul line. He’s now scored 20 or more points in three of his four tourney games this week.
“I was just looking for my shot,” he said. “And my teammates were helping me. They do a great job of moving the ball and finding the open man. This is my last tournament and I just wanted to go out and play hard today. I wanted to play well for my team and today, the shots were falling.”
Sizemore added seven points for the Knights and Sam Ulmen grabbed 10 rebounds. Box Elder was led by Skylar Parisian’s 12 points, while Ramos and Gardipee each scored 12.
The Bears reached the consolation game by thrashing Hays-Lodge Pole on Friday night, 73-48. In that loser-out game, Gardipee, who’s had a huge tournament as well, scored 19 points, while Parisian added 17 and Ramos 14.
The Knights battled their way into the consolation game with a 71-47 win over Turner Friday night. Donoven scored 24 points, while Sizemore added 15 points and 11 rebounds. The Tornados, who played very well early on, got 18 points from Lucas Reed in their last game of the season.
Now, going 3-1 over the course of four days, the Knights (10-12) will be back in the HHS gymnasium tonight to face Chinook. The Beeters were trounced by Big Sandy in Saturday night’s game, and tonight’s winner will earn the second berth into Wednesday’s Northern C tourney in great Falls – a place North Star hasn’t been in a long time.
“We are down one starter, but the kids have just showed so much heart and determination,” Cody Donoven said. “And we’re not going to stop. We’re going to keep playing as long as we can. The good things is, I feel like we’re playing our best basketball right now. So we are going to try our hardest to keep that going.”
Tonight’s 9C boys challenge game will tip off at 7:30 p.m. in Havre. The winner will join Big Sandy later this week at the Northern C in Great Falls.
North Star 58. Box Elder 49 (3rd)
Box Elder X X X X — 49
North Star X X X X — 58
Box Elder — Jesse Ramos 11, Brandon Belgarde 2, Randall Gardipee 11, Skylar Parisian 12, Dakota Standing Rock 8, Lonnie Plain Bull 3, Jacob Burns 2. Totals 16 6-14.
North Star — Jordy Donoven 37, Quinn Spinler 6, Samuel Ulmen 2, Karston Donoven 4, Shelby Sizemore 7, Donovan Ulmen 2. Totals 19 18-26.
Total fouls: Box Elder 22, North Star 13. Fouled out: Ramos, Gardipee. Technical fouls: none. 3-point fieldgoals: Ramos 3, Gardipee 3, Parisian 2, Standing Rock 2, Plain Bull, J. Donoven 2.
Box Elder 73, Hays-Lodge Pole 48 (lo)
HLP 15 10 14 10 — 48
Box Elder 13 24 24 12 — 73
HLP — Ismael Amaro 1, Jeff Sorrell 6, Dane Snow 2, Bruce Denny 8, Nolan Werk 4, Floyd McConnell 5, Jalen Brockie 4, Trent Kirkaldie 21. Totals 19 8-27.
Box Elder — Jesse Ramos 14, Brandon Belgarde 3, Randall Gardipee 19, Will Ketchum 1, Clayton Morsette 8, Skylar Parisian 17, Thomas Parisian 5, Lonnie Plain Bull 3, Jacob Burne 3. Totals 24 18-38.
Total fouls: Hays-Lodgepole 25, Box Elder 25. Fouled out: none. Technical fouls: Sorrell, Lex Molina. 3-point fieldgoals: Denny 2, McConnell, Ramos 2, Gardipee 3, Morsette, S. Parisian.
North Star 71, Turner 47 (lo)
Turner 15 17 6 9 — 47
North Star 13 24 23 11 — 71
Turner — Dylan Welsh 9, Bret Van Valkenburg 10, Alton Mathews 3, Levi Humphreys 7, Lucas Reed 18, Dusty Mohar 2. Totals 18 8-18.
North Star — Jordy Donoven 24, Quinn Spinler 9, Johnny Meister 3, Samuel Ulmen 9, Karston Donoven 5, Shelby Sizemore 15, Donovan Ulmen 6. Totals 27 11-26.
Total fouls: Turner 20, North Star 21. Fouled out: Humphreys. Technical fouls: none. 3-point fieldgoals: Humphreys 2, Reed, J. Donoven 4, Spinler, K. Donoven.