It wasn’t the way any team would want to start its state tournament, but the Big Sandy Pioneers ran into a very tough Twin Bridges squad.
The 9C Pioneers opened up their state tournament play on Thursday against the very experienced and talented Falcons squad. And it was the Falcons who grabbed the 80-56 dominating win at the Rimrock Arena at the Metra in Billings over the Big Sandy boys.
The tough loss gives the Pioneers an overall record of 18-6, while the Falcons improved to 23-2. And while the Falcons will advance to the semifinals, the Pioneers will drop into the consolation bracket, facing St. Labre today.
Unfortunately for the Pioneers, the Falcons couldn’t be tamed. The Pioneers competed and stuck with the Falcons through the first half of play, but with the second half came a barrage of scoring by the Falcons. The Pioneers shooting struggles and lack f defense worsened through the final two frames, resulting in the 24 point first round loss by the 9C champions.
Through the first eight minutes, the Pioneers and Falcons went score for score. The defense was almost non existent on both ends of the floor, as both teams found most of their scoring opportunities in the paint. Big Sandy took the very fast 4-0 lead, but the Falcons answered with six straight field goals to take the 13-8 lead. The quarter ended with the Falcons holding a 22-14 lead.
And in the second quarter the storyline was similar, as both teams ran the floor on offense, but didn’t show much fight on defense. Twin Bridges quickly led 25-14, but Big Sandy found a way to put their own run together, narrowing the gap to 27-25. It looked like the Pioneers were going to compete shot for shot, but at the end of the first half, and through the second half, the Falcons ran away and never looked back.
Twin Bridges led 42-28 at the break, and outscored the Pioneers 18-13 in the third quarter and 20-15 in the fourth. And on the game, the Falcons were 35-of-70 for 50 percent shooting from the field, while the pioneers were 23-of-57 for 40 percent shooting from the field.
The biggest bright spot for the Pioneers was Justin Stevens. He is an orthodox big man, but a big man nonetheless. He dominated the paint for the Pioneers, grabbing a team high 27-points. Zac Leader added nine, while Trevor Lackner, Kaden Beck and Jessey Bailey all finished with six points each.
Big Sandy tipped off again today in loser out action against St. Labre.
Twin Bridges 80, Big Sandy 56
Twin Bridges 22 20 18 20 – 80
Big Sandy 14 14 13 15 – 56
Twin Bridges – Cody Pierson 18, Tyler Lott 21, Cole Miotke 12
Big Sandy – Justin Stevens 27, Trevor Lackner 6, Kaden Beck 6, Zac Leader 9, Jessey Bailey 6.