GREAT FALLS — When the Big Sandy boys basketball team can get out and run the floor, the Pioneers are awfully tough to stop.
That was the case in the opening round of the 2012 Northern C Boys Divisional Wednesday night at the Four Seasons Arena in Great Falls, where the Pioneers literally ran by the Centerville Miners, 77-68. And the Pioneers didn’t just run to a win, they ran themselves right into the semifinals, which will be tonight against Stanford-Geyser.
“This is a big court, much bigger than ours (Big Sandy) and even the one in Havre,” Big Sandy’s Justin Stevens, who scored a game-high 25 points against the Miners said. “So that helped us get out in transition and that’s a big part of our game. We feel like we can run with anybody and when our transition game is going like it was tonight, we can do some good things.”
Big Sandy never really got the run game going in two wins at the 9C tournament last week in Havre, but the Pioneers wasted little time doing so against the 8C runner-up Miners.
The first quarter was played at a furious pace, with the Pioneers trading layups with Centerville. However, Big Sandy turned a 20-20 tie into a 32-20 lead early in the second quarter on a couple of 3-pointers by Trevor Lackner and Jessie Bailey, as well as transition buckets and the strong inside play of Stevens. The Pioneers kept on running too, right into a 44-32 halftime lead.
“We got up and down the floor the way we wanted to tonight,” Big Sandy head coach Roy Lackner said. “I think we wore them (Miners) out a little and that’s what we want to do. We want to run teams down. And when we get going down the floor like we did tonight, and are able to pound it inside to Justin Stevens like that, we’re a handful for a
lot of teams. So I was really pleased.”
Lackner was pleased, but the Miners wouldn’t go quietly into the night either.
The Pioneers again torched the nights in the third quarter, building an 18-point, 62-44 lead with one stanza left. However, Centerville went on a 6-0 run to start the period, then ripped off a 9-0 spurt capped by back-to-back three’s from Deryk Pearsall and Logan Vining and all of a sudden, the Pioneers found themselves back in a dogfight at 70-64 with 1:44 left.
Big Sandy managed to steady the ship though as Kaden Beck and Zac Leader each made layups to give the Pioneers enough of a cushion to put the surging Miners away.
“We let them catch up a little when we slowed the pace down,” Lackner said. “But that’s ok. Had we not slowed it down some, they might have had more time to catch up, so things worked out.”
Stevens was a beats on the inside, making 12-of-17 field goals and also pulling down 10 rebounds. But Trevor Lackner also poured in 19 points and Bailey was right behind with 18 as Big Sandy improved 17-4 on the season.
And after missing out on the Northern C a year ago, and with a win in tow, the Pioneers feel very confident going into tonight’s game, just one win away from a trip to the Class C state tournament.
“This was an awesome experience,” Stevens said. “This is my first time in this tournament so I was really excited for this game tonight. I think we gained a lot of confidence as the game went on tonight and I think if we can keep we can keep this going.
“We’re here to play as hard as we can and do the best we can,” Coach Lackner added. “No matter who we play, we’re going to play hard for 32 minutes. With all the players we lost last year, it’s a great thing for this team to be here. So we’re just going to keep playing as hard as we can and see what happens.”
Big Sandy plays in the second semifinal tonight at 8:30 p.m. The first semifinal will pit Winifred-Roy against Highwood.
Chinook comeback falls short
For a brief moment, it looked like the Chinook boys basketball team was going to get run out of the Four Seasons Arena by the Highwood Mountaineers.
The Sugarbeeters had too much heart and pride for that however.
Still, Chinook suffered a 57-45 loss to the Highwood Mountaineers, the District 8C champions in the first round of the Northern C Boys Divisional Wednesday afternoon in Great Falls.
The loss wasn’t for lack of effort.
Chinook fell behind by as much as 19 points in the first half, but out-played the Mountaineers, who have now ripped off 21 straight wins this season, in the second half. Chinook cut the Highwood lead all the way down to five points with 3:08 left in the game before Highwood outscored the Beeters 13-5 the rest of the way.
“I can’t emphasize how proud I am of my team,” Chinook first-year head coach Mike Seymour said. “We spotted them (Mounties) too big of a lead, and when you do that, it’s tough, emotionally and physically. But our kids never quit, never give up and never stopped playing hard. I’m just really proud of them right now.”
Chinook started strong, leading 10-4 early on a Scott Schmitt 3-pointer. From there however, Highwood closed the first quarter on a 10-0 run, and extended that streak to 22 straight unanswered points deep into the second stanza. Schmitt stopped the bleeding with another three, but Chinook went into halftime trailing 29-16 and had only scored six points in a eight-minute stretch.
Still, the Beeters were not going to go away.
Barry Murnion came off the bench to score seven points in the third period, with his last basket cutting the lead back down to seven 37-29 as the third quarter wound down.
Chinook, which went to an effective full-court press that bothered Highwood and forced the Mountaineers into 14 turnovers, continued to battle in the final stanza. The Beeters went on a 9-0 run behind a three from Zach Molyneaux and big points in the paint from Grant Tilleman and Murnion. By the time the run was over, the Beeters trailed just 43-38 with three minutes left in the game.
“I thought we played really well for a stretch there in the second half,” Seymour said. “We had a few turnovers and a few missed shots, but overall, I saw way more positives than negatives. It was a great effort by my team.”
The effort was indeed great, but Highwood had a little too much in the tank down the stretch. Forced to put the Mountaineers on the free-throw-line in the waning minutes, Highwood went on a 7-0 run and scored 13 of the last 15 points, including 8-for-8 from the foul line in the final 1:07 to put the Beeters away.
Chinook, which dropped into the loser-out bracket and will face 10C rival Dutton-Brady this morning, got 14 points seven rebounds from Tilleman. Schmitt hit three trey’s and scored nine, while Molyneaux and Murnion each added. Highwood’s 6-5 center, Austin Malek scored 18 points as the Mountaineers advanced to tonight’s semifinals against Winifred-Roy.
“Again, I just can’t say enough about how hard our kids played today,” Seymour said. “I’m very proud of them all.”
Highwood 57, Chinook 45
Highwood 17 12 10 18 — 57
Chinook 10 6 13 16 — 45
Highwood — Luke Davison 5, Jonathan Baum 2, Nick Willis 12, Darren Malek 5, Sam Davison 13, Austin Malek 18, Jordan LaFontaine 2. Totals: 19 16-20.
Chinook — Scott Schmitt 8, Zach Molyneaux 8, Brandon Riphenburg 4, Dylan Surber 3, Grant Tilleman 14, Barry Murnion 8. Totals: 18 5-11.
Total fouls: Highwood 10, Chinook 20. Fouled out: none. 3-point goals: Luke Davison 1, Willis 1, Sam Davison 1, Schmitt 2, Molyneaux 2.
Big Sandy 77, Centerville 68
Centerville 20 12 12 24 — 68
Big Sandy 20 24 18 15 — 77
Centerville — Jacob Frank 9, Deryk Pearsall 27, Dylan Lencioni 19, Brandon Judd 8, Breyer Davis 2, Logan Vining 3. Totals: 27 8-12.
Big Sandy — Trevor Lackner 19, Zac Leader 7, Jessey Bailey 17, Kaden Beck 6, Justin Stevens 25, Jerry Hanson 3. Totals: 30 13-21.
Total fouls: Centerville 17, Big Sandy 12. Fouled out: none. 3-point goals: Vining, Pearsall 5, Lackner, Hanson, Bailey 2.