NO BULL: Fort Benton Repeats
Longhorns stampede their way to back-to-back 9C boys crowns
Last updated 2/22/2021 at 8:13am
Two of the best teams in not just the District 9C Boys Basketball Tournament, but in all of Class C met Saturday night at the Havre High gymnasium for the 9C championship game.
No. 1 seed Fort Benton was looking to win the tournament for the second year in a row and No. 2 seed Chinook aimed to reclaim the title after winning it the three years prior to last year.
But, thanks to a 57-40 win, Fort Benton came out of the night adding to their legacy by repeating.
"It feels so great, carrying on the legacy of seniors from last year," said Fort Benton junior Devin Bird. "I'm just happy to be a part of it. That's how we feel, just carrying the torch."
While Fort Benton head coach Tyler Pasha is excited with the victory, he is also excited about what the repeat means for the potential of the program's future as a heavyweight in the 9C.
"It's pretty bright," Pasha said. "I'm excited about our young kids because they're getting minutes that are valuable not just for this year and later in tournaments but next year, too."
The Longhorns got their offense going early in the first quarter, especially Hayden Diekhans who exploded with 14 points in the opening frame as he was able to get to his spot on the floor.
"My coach told me all year to get to 15 feet and you'll be successful so that's what I did," Diekhans said.
The Longhorns finished the first quarter with an 18-10 lead and controlled the game throughout. The Sugarbeeters did make a run to make it a six-point deficit late in the third quarter but the Longhorns held them off. The last chance the Sugarbeeters had came in the fourth quarter with three minutes left as they trailed by 10. However, the Longhorns finished the game on a 9-2 run to secure the victory.
Diekhans finished the game with 22 points as he shot 8-for-15 from the field. Bird chipped in 14 points on 6-for-11 shooting. Overall, the Longhorns shot 46.8 percent from the field and 50 percent from the free-throw line.
The Sugarbeeters shot 40 percent from the field but struggled at the free-throw line as they went 5-for-15. Three players led Chinook with 11 points. Toby Niederegger and Oskar Pula both shot over 50 percent from the floor on their way to 11. However, Chinook star player Ethan Bell shot 5-for-17 from the floor to get to 11. Since Chinook's other star Reese Elliot was limited by injury, the Longhorns could focus on Bell defensively.
"We could really focus on Ethan," Pasha said. "He's going to get shots, and so they needed to be tough shots over the top of a contested hand."
Fort Benton hopes to continue its strong season as the Longhorns head to the Northern C Divisional Boys Basketball Tournament in Great Falls. The Longhorns, the defending Northern C champions, will play a game with a start time of 8:30 p.m., so Pasha hopes that he can prepare his team for the late start against tough competition.
"That's going to be tough just playing that late, and we got to make sure that we're ready to go," Pasha said. "It's going to be a grind all the days that we're there because everybody wants to make it to that last weekend."
Chinook is also heading back to the divisional tournament, so Chinook head coach Mike Seymour is ready to get back to work after the championship game loss.
"Now it's another tournament," Seymour said. "We got Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday to prepare and go back to work and then we go into the tournament ready to go."
Fort Benton (17-1) will play the 8C consolation winner Winnett-Grass Range Tuesday at 8:30 p.m. Chinook (14-3) will play Heart Butte from the 10C Thursday at 1 p.m. Both games will be held at the Great Falls Four Seasons Arena.
Kings of the Corral
Fort Benton 57, Chinook 40, 1st
Chinook 10 13 11 6 - 40
Fort Benton 18 14 12 13 - 57
Chinook - Wylee Simenson 0, Ethan Bell 11, Damon Hannum 0, Flint Annis 0, Benton Elliot 0, Toby Niederegger 11, Reese Elliot 6, Braxston Inman 0, Ethan McLeod 1, Oskar Pula 11, Jackson Nordboe 0.
Fort Benton - Devin Bird 14, Landis Arganbright 0, Jace Thompson 3, Jaxen Dehaven 0, Nick Marias 7, Hayden Diekhans 22, Sam Smith 0, Cody Evans 7, William Ulery 4, Jackson Schmele 0, Andrew Ballantyne 0.