After two years of being a near sure-thing to advance to the Northern C Divisional, the Chinook Sugarbeeters came into the 2013 District 9C boys tournament in an underdog role. However, after four games over the last week, the Beeters still have a chance to make it to Great Falls yet again.
Despite finishing fourth during the regular season, Chinook has battled its way into tonight’s 9C challenge game where the Beeters (13-9) will face Big Sandy for the 9C’s second-place berth in this week’s Northern C.
Chinook got to tonight’s challenge game by beating Hays-Lodge Pole 63-54 in Saturday’s consolation game at the Havre High gymnasium. Chinook’s win over HLP turned out to be the only game in the entire tournament where the lower-seeded team won, but for much of this week, Chinook looked anything but an underdog.
“I’m really pleased with how we played today,” Chinook head coach Mike Seymour said. “And I’m proud of where these guys finished. We can’t control what happens from here, but all we wanted was one chance to go to divisionals and we played well enough today to at least give ourselves that opportunity. So I’m very pleased and very proud.”
Saturday’s consolation game was one of the most entertaining of the first four days of the 9C tourney. The Beeters jumped all over the T-Birds in the first four minutes, leading 9-0, but HLP stormed back behind three straight buckets from Junior LongFox to trail just 10-9 after the first quarter.
The second stanza was more of a back-and-forth affair until Jeff Sorrell scored on two straight layups to lift the T-Birds to a 22-21 halftime lead.
However, Chinook seemed to seize control as Scott Schmitt hit two 3-pointers, and Tyler Molyneaux got hot in a third quarter in which the Beeters out-scored HLP 23-15 and led 44-37 with eight minutes to play.
“That third quarter was key,” Seymour said. “We hit some big shots on the wing, and I thought we executed on defense much better. I thought we played really well in the second half.”
As good as Chinook played, the Beeters weren’t quite home free. The T-Birds rattled off a 10-0 run of their own in the fourth quarter and the game was knotted at 46-46 with five minutes to go. But Chinook’s mission is to go to Great Falls and the Beeters responded with a 14-0 run which got started by back-to-back three’s from Dylan Surber and Molyneaux. And when the dust settled, Chinook had a lead HLP couldn’t come back on.
“They (T-Birds) bottled us up some in the first half,” Seymour said. “So we made a few adjustments on offense and our kids executed those adjustments to perfection. I was very proud the way we came out and played in the second half, and especially down the stretch.”
Surber led four Beeters in double figures with 15 points and two three’s. Schmitt hit three bombs, while he, Molyneaux and Grant Tilleman each scored 13. Tilleman also had his third straight double-double with 10 rebounds.
HLP’s season drew to a close with Saturday’s loss, but the T-Birds, who got 13 points from Sterling Whitecow, had a strong tournament. On Friday night, the T-Birds beat Turner 73-53 in an entertaining game which was much more difficult than the final score indicated. In that win, HLP got 18 points and 13 rebounds from Jalen Brockie, while Turner was led by 25 points from Bret VanValkenburg in its season finale.
Chinook’s road to tonight’s challenge game included a dominant, 63-35 win over North Star on loser-out Friday. In that game, Tilleman scored 16 points and Lane Seymour and Molyneaux added 14 each. North Star, which was eliminated by Chinook, got nine each from Cooper Spicher and Quinn Spinler.
Now, the Beeters will play a Big Sandy team trying to regroup from Saturday night’s triple-overtime loss to Box Elder in the championship game. And Seymour said his team will be ready to go.
“We would love the chance at Big Sandy, one game to go to divisionals,” Seymour noted before the Pioneers lost to Box Elder. “They are a very tough team, and we’ll have to play well. But all we want is that one opportunity. One chance to go to divisionals.”
Tonight’s 9C boys challenge game between the Beeters and Pioneers will tip off at 6 at the HHS gymnasium. The winner joins Box Elder this Thursday in Great Falls.
Chinook 63, North Star 35 (LO)
Chinook 12 15 17 19 - 63
North Star 8 4 16 7 — 35
Chinook — Lane Seymour 14, Dylan Surber 1, Scott Schmitt 4, Zach Molyneaux 14, Jacob MacLean 7, Ian McIntosh 4, Ty Simenson 3, Grant Tilleman 16.
North Star — Copper Spicher 9, Quinn Spinler 9, Gavin Spinler 2, Payton Peterson 2, Sam Ulman 6, Matthew Helmbrecht 2, Jaxon Simonson 5.
Hays-Lodge Pole 73, Turner 53 (LO)
Turner 9 18 14 12 — 53
HLP 14 18 14 27 — 73
Turner — Dylan Welsh 9, Tyler Humphreys 7, Bret VanValkenberg 25, Lucas Reed 12.
HLP — Ishmeal Amaro 3, Dustin Longfox 8, Nate Doney 5, Jeff Sorrell 14, Marvin Cole 4, Gage Essert 10, Sterling Whitecow 9, Keena Stiffarm 2, Jalen Brockie 18.
Chinook 63, Hays-Lodge Pole 54 (3rd)
Chinook 10 11 23 19 — 63
HLP 9 13 15 17 — 54
Chinook — Lane Seymour 6, Dylan Surber 15, Scott Schmitt 13, Zach Molyneaux 13, Jacob MacLean 1, Jake Diemert 2, Grant Tilleman 13. Totals: 17-43 23-29 63.
HLP — Junior LongFox 11, Nate Doney 2, Jeff Sorrell 8, Marvin Cole 7, Gage Essert 3, Sterling Whitecow 13, Codie Kirkaldie 2, Jalen Brockie 8. Totals: 19-47 11-15 54.
Halftime: HLP 22-21. 3-pointers: Chinook 6-13 (Surber 2, Schmitt 3, Molyneaux 1), HLP 5-10 (LongFox 1, Essert 1, Whitecow 3). Rebounds: Chinook 30 (Tilleman 8), HLP 27 (Brockie 6). Fouls: Chinook 14, HLP 21. Fouled out: Cole.