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Defending champion Hawks fly past the North Star Knights


Last updated 2/17/2023 at 8:48am

Havre Daily News/Kason Clark

North Star's Carter Campbell, right, is defended by Chester-Joplin-Inverness' Nate Nelson during a District 9C boys tournament game Thursday at the HHS gymnasium. The Hawks beat the Knights and will play in tonight's semifinals.

The first step in defending their Distinct 9C championship had little resistance for the Chester-Joplin-Inverness Hawks.

On Thursday afternoon, the Hawks took apart the North Star Knights, 69-32 in a 2023 9C boys first-round game inside the HHS gymnasium. The win pushed CJI (15-4) into tonight's semifinal game, and one win away from having a shot to repeat as 9C champions.

"I thought we played really well defensively," CJI head coach Joe Horel said. "Offensively, once we got past those first-game jitters, we got it going. So it was a good first game."

It really didn't take the Hawks long to get past those jitters.

Blake Harmon and Karson Pulst combined for nine points in the first quarter to give the Hawks a commanding 14-2 lead.

North Star was able to get its offense going in the seconds stanza, with Gavin Clawson getting a bucket inside and Garrett Spicher connecting from the outside as well. Still, it wasn't enough, as Pulst stayed hot, and CJI's transition game was too much for North Star to handle. The Hawks would outscore the Knights 20-12 in the second period to lead 34-14 at halftime, and while the Knights kept it a little closer in the third quarter, they still trailed 44-21, with CJI tacking on 20 points in the fourth to win going away.

CJI shot a stellar 44 percent form the field, while defensively, they forced North Star into 22 turnovers, and also won the battle of the boards 35-32. Pulst finished with 16 points, including four triples, while Braden Mattson added 13 points and seven rebounds.

North Star (7-12), meanwhile, shot just 26 percent from the floor, with Clawson and Gavin Spicher each scoring eight points. Lawson also added eight rebounds, while Garrett Spicher had seven points and Carter Campbell scored five, with one 3-pointer. North Star looked to stay alive this morning with a loser-out game against Chinook.

Meanwhile, it's on to the semifinals for the third straight year, where tonight, the Hawks play Big Sandy in a much-anticipated showdown at 5:30.

"They'll be a very good offensive team," Horel said of tonight's game. "So we've got to play hard defensively, we've got to go out and execute."

CJI 69, North Star 32

North Star 2 12 7 11 - 32

CJI 14 20 10 20 - 69

North Star - Carter Campbell 5, Parker Hansen 2, Garrett Spicher 7, Gavin Spicher 8, Dirk Wolery 2, Gavin Clawson 8.

CJI - Ryland St. John 8, Nate Nelson 6, Karson Pulst 16, Braden Mattson 13, Blake Harmon 9, Adam Grammar 6, Ty Backen 2, Elijah Sanders 2, Patrick Dahlin 2.

3-pointers: Pulst 4, Campbell 1, Garrett Spicier 1; Fouls: CJI 16, North Star 15; Fouled out: None.


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