By Tiffany L. Rehbein
The scoreboard was on track for a 100-point finish, but the Blue Sky Eagles used their bench and saved their starters for the remainder of the District 9C tournament en route to the 67-34 win over the Turner Tornadoes Wednesday at the Havre High School gymnasium.
The Eagles, the No. 2 seed with a 7-4, 13-6 record, exploded for 30 first quarter points, while the Tornadoes managed just seven to open the game.
The Tornadoes, the No. 7 seed with a 1-18 record, were held scoreless for minutes at a time, and in the final three-and-a-half minutes, the Eagles outscored the Tornadoes 18-2.
While Turner scored first to open the second quarter, the Eagles answered with 12-straight points to lead 43-9 with 3:04 remaining in the half.
The second half proved more successful for the Tornadoes as captain Dallas Egbert scored on an in-bounds play to open the third quarter. He finished with four points in the game.
Michael Van Voast and Morgan Klindworth popped one 3-pointer apiece in the quarter. Klindworth went on to sink two baskets, including one with two seconds remaining to cut the Blue Sky lead to 63-22 heading into the fourth quarter.
Van Voast finished with a team-high 12 points while Klindworth tallied eight points in the loss.
The Tornadoes went 7-for-10 from the free throw line in the final quarter and outscored the Eagles 12-4.
Egbert, Michael Van Voast and Andrew Jones went 2-for-2, while Matt Klindworth went 1-for-4 from the line.
The Blue Sky points in the final eight minutes of play both came from offensive rebounds.
Tyler Hutchinson scored a game-high 16 points for Blue Sky, including, after a missed dunk, an offensive board and the put-back points.
Brent Petrick came off the bench and chipped in 10 points for Blue Sky.
Matt McKinley added nine in the effort.
The Eagles went 10-for-17 from the foul line in the contest that was dominated by strong inside play by Hutchinson and aggressive defense.
The two teams did not meet during the regular season.
The Eagles will play Hays/Lodgepole in semifinal action at 7:30 p.m. on Friday.
Blue Sky has gone 7-8 since losing to league-leading KG on Jan. 21.
The Thunderbirds defeated the Big Sandy Pioneers 68-46 in other Wednesday night tournament action.
Turner will face Big Sandy at 7:30 p.m. tonight at Havre High.