Horns hook Tornadoes

Fort Benton holds off Turner in an exciting 9C tourney game


February 15, 2018

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson

Fort Benton's Damon Bird goes up for a layup during a District 9C tournament game against Turner Wednesday at the HHS gymnasium. The Longhorns won, advancing to tonight's semifinals. For more 9C coverage, see Pages A7 and A8.

A year ago, both the Fort Benton Longhorns and Turner Tornadoes were young teams building for the future. That future was on display in the opening round of the District 9C boys basketball tournament Wednesday afternoon in Havre, as the Longhorns and Tornadoes waged a great battle.

In the end, Fort Benton prevailed with a 70-63 win, in what was one of the best games of the day by far in the HHS gymnasium. Fort Benton's victory pushed the Longhorns into tonight's semifinal where they'll take on top-seeded Chinook.

"You have to give it to Turner," Fort Benton head coach Tyler Pasha said. "They wanted this game today. And at times, I thought they wanted it more than we did. It was a really tough game, where both teams played well."

Both teams played well indeed.

In a back-and-forth first quarter, Fort Benton star Garrett Diekhans threw down a one-handed fastbreak dunk, giving the Longhorns an early 13-5 lead. But behind the hot shooting of Cody Welsh, Turner ripped off a 9-0 run and trailed just 19-17 after eight minutes.

The past slowed some in the second stanza, and the Longhorns went into halftime leading 29-23. But nothing was slow about the final 16 minutes.

Eddie Harmon scored eight straight points for the Tornadoes, helping them tie the game up at 33-33. However, Diekhans answered with six straight of his own and the Horns led 42-37 heading into the fourth quarter.

And it was a wild fourth quarter. Fort Benton started the stanza on a 10-2 run, and it appeared the Longhorns were turning the game into a blowout. Harmon also fouled out, which hurt Turner's chances even more. But with under two minutes left, Tracer Helig scored a quick five points, and the Tornadoes were only down 60-54. But, that's as close as Turner would get as Welsh would foul out, too, and Fort Benton was able to make some key free throws to ice the game.

"It was a really competitive game, and that's good for a first game of the tournament," Pasha said. "I thought our guys fought through a lot of adversity today, and it was big for us that Turner's two studs fouled out. Turner played a great game, but our guys just fought hard for it."

Both teams certainly fought hard in the final eight minutes, where Fort Benton outscored Turner 28-26. Both teams shot the ball at better than a 40 percent clip, too, and Fort Benton got a massive lift from Diekhans, who poured in 30 points and pulled down 10 rebounds. Hayden Diekhans added 15 points and Logan Giles scored 11. Turner (8-11), which played Big Sandy this morning to stay alive, got 20 points and 12 rebounds from Harmon, while Welsh and Shane Kimmel each scored 16 and Helig added 10.

The Longhorns (10-9) are now tasked with taking on Chinook, a squad no 9C team has been able to beat so far this season. But just last Saturday, Fort Benton did take the Beeters down to the wire, and Pasha said his team certainly has a chance in tonight's semifinal, which tips off at 7.

"We played them tough the last game," Pasha said of the Beeters. "But they're the number one team in our district for a reason. They're really good, they're huge inside, so we have to do a really good job of boxing out and taking care of the boards. And we need to finish around the rim when we get those chances. They're a really tough team, so we have to come out and be ready to execute."

Fort Benton 70, Turner 63

Fort Benton 19 10 13 28 – 70

Turner 17 6 14 26 – 63

Fort Benton – Damon Bird 7, Hayden Diekhans 15, Logaan Giles 11, Andy Giles 7, Garrett Diekhans 30. Totals: 24-58 18-30 70.

Turner – Austin Welsh 1, Cody Welsh 16, Shane Kimmel 16, Eddie Harmon 10, Tracer Hellig 10. Totals: 22-51 14-20 63.

3-pointers: Damon Bird 1, H. Diekhans 2, G. Diekhans 1, C. Welsh 2, E. Harmon 1, Hellig 2. Fouls: Fort Benton 16, Turner 25. Fouled out: A. Welsh, C. Welsh, E. Harmon.

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson

Turner's Eddie Harmon, left, goes high for a shot during Wednesday's 9C boys game in Havre.


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