By Kim Staudinger
The never-say-die attitude of the Turner Tornadoes was never more apparent than Thursday night in loser-out action at the District 9C Boys Basketball Tournament in Havre, but it just wasn't quite enough.
Down 38-16 at the half, Turner rallied in the third quarter, outscoring the Bears 19-6 to bring the score to 44-35 with eight minutes of play remaining.
But the tables turned once again in the fourth as Box Elder came back and scored 12 points to Turner's six. With the six-point advantage in the fourth, Box Elder fended off a late rally to win 56-41.
With the win, Box Elder will play the loser of tonight's Blue Sky/Rocky Boy game Saturday morning at 9:30.
Turner cut the lead to 10 points with 1:25 remaining in the fourth quarter, but a basket and two free throws by Tim Rosette brought the lead back to 14. With just 30 seconds remaining, Neal Rosette added a free throw for the Bears, giving them the 15-point win.
Foul trouble forced most of the Turner starters to the bench late in the third quarter and throughout the fourth, something Box Elder coach Bobby Small thought was key to his team's win.
"That was a big help for us," he said. "They lost two kids down the stretch that really hurt them and helped us."
Two Turner baskets to open the third quarter, one by David Jones and the other by Michael Van Voast, started the Tornado comeback. But the lead was still 18 points in favor of Box Elder.
Then a run that spanned two minutes of play in the middle of the third quarter cut the lead to 10 and forced Box Elder to take a timeout.
Small said his team began to panic so he used the timeout to calm his players down and remind them they still had the lead.
"We were trying to force things," he said.
The six-point run was sparked by two free throws by Van Voast, a basket and a free throw by Brandon Simons, and a steal and a lay-in by Jones.
Coming out of the timeout, Chad Parker scored three straight points. But just when it seemed Box Elder may start to pull away again, Turner baskets by Robert Van Voast and Simons cut the lead to nine going into the fourth quarter.
Midway through the fourth quarter, the Bears started to stall, forcing the Tornadoes, who were already in foul trouble, to foul. Box Elder made six of 11 free throws in the fourth quarter for the difference in the game.
"They made a helluva comeback," Coach Small said. "You can't take anything away from Turner. They are scrappy, they play hard. They made a great comeback."
Small said another big difference in the game was his team's dominance in the first half.
Box Elder out scored Turner 28-6 in the first quarter, led by eight points from Neal Rosette, six each from Tim Rosette and Kyle Parker, and four by Tim Parker and Chad Parker.
Turner scored its first basket at the 6:54 mark, but didn't score again until 1:06 remained in the quarter. Despite Box Elder retaining its tough full-court press, the second quarter scoring was even at 10 points apiece.
"I thought we played a heck of a first half," Small said. "We shot the ball really well. The first half was a big difference. We played extremely well in the first half. I think we just relaxed too much once we got that lead."
Turner Michael Van Voast 10, Mathew Klindworth 2, Robert Van Voast 9, Morgan Klindworth 2, David Jones 9, Brandon Simons 9.
Box Elder Neal Rosette 15, Dane Haley 2, Tim Parker 5, Kyle Parker 9, Chad Parker 7, Tim Rosette 14, Dustin Flying 2, Charlie Swan 2.