GREAT FALLS — A couple of scorching-hot offenses set the tone for a very exciting semifinal matchup, but it was free throws and defense that sealed the deal for one Hi-Line squad.
Thursday night at the Four Seasons Arena in Great Falls, the 9C Big Sandy Pioneers played an exciting semifinal matchup in the Northern C divisional tournament. And though it was neck and neck nearly all game long, the Pioneers escaped with a win over the v
ery talented Stanford-Geyser Wolverines by a score of 62-58.
With the win on Thursday night, the Pioneers earned their way into tonight’s championship, where they will face Highwood at 8:30 p.m.
“I hate morning games, that is why we win,” Big Sandy head coach Roy Lackner jokingly said after a hard fought win. “We lost some key guys at the beginning of the season, and for this team to come back and make it this far, we are playing in a divisional championship, who would think? We work hard all the time and stick together and that is all we can do.”
For the most part, there wasn’t a whole lot of defense being played by either team. Instead, both teams went after each other shot for shot, goal for goal for three straight quarters, both teams showing they can shoot the deep ball especially.
In the first quarter alone the lead changed eight different times, while the ball game was tied another four. In the second quarter the lead changed six more times, as the trend continued. A long with no defense, there wasn’t a lot of penetration in the first half either. Instead, both teams fought for the lead on a combined 23 three-point attempts. The Pioneers were 6-of-12 in the first half for 50 percent and the Wolverines were 5-of-11 for 45 percent.
Jessey Bailey was 3-of-6 and Trevor Lackner was 3-of-5 from trey range, helping keep the Pioneers on pace.
“Jessey Bailey has the green light all the time,” Coach Lackner said. “And he showed why. Trevor (Lackner) hasn’t taken as many shots as he can, but he came to my room last night sick, and we didn’t know if he was even going to play. He plays better sick than he does healthy it looks like.”
On the night the Pioneers finished shooting 45 percent form three range, while the Wolverines finished shooting 36 percent. The Pioneers were 9-of-20
At the end of the first frame the Wolverines led 16-15, and at the end of the second frame, the Pioneers led 36-33. And the scoring barrage continued into the third quarter for the Pioneers, while the formally absent defense started to make it tougher on the Wolverines. The Pioneers outscored the Wolverines 14-9 in the third and built a 50-42 lead.
The fourth quarter was a whole other story for the Pioneers. The offense was much quieter, the defense gave up 16 points, and Big Sandy had to heavily rely on free throws, something that has plagued them all season long.
In the final eight minutes the Pioneers were outscored 16-12. And while the Wolverines frantically clawed their way back into contention, the Pioneers offense struggled, and had to take care of business at the charity stripe. With six minutes to play in the game the Pioneers led 53-50. From then on, they spent a lot of time shooting bonus foul shots. But Big Sandy didn’t make it easy on themselves, holding on to the lead narrowly, by hitting just 7-of-12 for 70 percent free throw shooting in the fourth. On the game, the Pioneers shot 59 percent from the stripe, keeping the game closer than it should have been late in the final frame.
“That has been the story all year,” Coach Lackner said. “We missed eight straight against Chinook this season, we missed 11 against Denton and we missed just as many against North Star and they all hung around in those games. If you don’t’ make those free throws you aren’t going to win, but we made a few important ones tonight and finished the game with a win.”
Big Sandy did just enough from the free throw line to skate by, as the Wolverines hung around a two point deficit for most of the fourth quarter. But the Pioneers’ defense stepped up again late, causing two crucial turnovers in the final 1:40. The Pioneers also put a halt to Dylan Woodhall, a very dangerous shooter. He had 15 in the first half, but just two points in the second half.
On the night, Lackner led the Pioneers with 19 points, while Bailey and Justin Stevens both finished with 11 each. Kaden Beck also managed seven points down low.
Now the Pioneers have a very tough game against Highwood. The Mountaineers have just one loss this season, and it came to Big Sandy early on. Highwood plays a very tough man defense and will be ready for the shooting of the Pioneers. But if Big Sandy can also step their defense up and stop some talented shooters, but still knock down shots themselves, the Pioneers could very well find themselves with a Northern C title.
“I think we just have to score one more point than Highwood,” Lackner said. “We are just going to go out there and do the best job we can and see what happens. They like to play man-to-man defense and they think they have the best man defense around, but we aren’t so bad on offense either. We play crap defense, but we get the job done where teams don’t beat up on us too bad, so we must be doing something right.”
Chinook eliminated by
By George Ferguson
If there’s one thing that holds true about the 2012 Northern C boys basketball tournament, it’s that the Chinook Sugarbeeters sure know how to put up a fight.
On Thursday morning at the Four Seasons Arena in Great Falls, the Beeters were eliminated from the Northern C after a hard-fought 46-39 loss to District 10C standout Dutton-Brady.
The loss to the Diamondbacks brought an end to a strong season for Chinook, one in which the Beeters had essentially four new starters and a new head coach and still reached the 9C championship game and the Northern C for the third straight year.
And just like they have done all season, the Beeters battled right to end Thursday morning. Chinook and Dutton-Brady were tied at 20-20 at the half, as Chinook’s defense held the D-Backs to just five points in the second quarter. But, with the game on the line in the final stanza, the D-Backs went on a 9-3 run late and were able to hold off the Beeters and advance to today’s loser-out game against Stanford-Geyser. The other Northern C loser-out contest pits Roy-Winifred against Power with the two winners meeting in tonight’s consolation game at 7 p.m.
In the final game of the season, Chinook got 15 points from sophomore Zach Molyneaux and another 11 points from Barry Murnion. Dutton-Brady was led by Clint Williams’ 11 points.
Dutton-Brady 46, Chinook 39 (lo)
Chinook 10 10 10 9 — 39
Dutton-Brady 15 5 14 12 — 46
Chinook — Lane Seymour 7, Scott Schmitt 3, Zach Molyneaux 15, Brandon Riphenburg 3, Barry Murnion 11. Totals: 13 8-12
Dutton-Brady — Trent Duffy 2, Wyatt Shumway 3, Matthew Hitchcock 2, Tiegan Johnson 10, Justin Fritz 5, Brody Dahlman 1, Braxton Hasner 2, Clint Williams 21. Totals: 16 12-22.
Total fouls: Chinook 18, Dutton-Brady 13. Fouled out: Murnion. 3-point goals: Seymour 1, Schmitt 1, Molyneaux 5, Shumway 1, Johnson 1.
Big Sandy 6,2 Stanford-Geyser 58 (sf)
Big Sandy 15 21 14 12 — 62
Stanford-Geyser 16 17 9 16 — 58
Big Sandy — Justin Stevens 11, Trevor Lackner 19, Kayden Beck 7, Zac Leader 11, Jeremy Bailey 14. Totals: 20 13-22.
Stanford-Geyser — Shad Connerton 3, Dylan Woodhall 15, Ty Martin 5, Neil Schott 17, Chance Muretta 10, Lander Ridgeway 8. Totals: 23 4-11.
Total fouls: Big Sandy 8, Stanford-Geyser 20. Fouled out: Schott. 3-point goals: Bailey 4, Lackner 5, Martin, Woodhall 2, Schott 5.