It doesn’t often take 44 minutes to decide a ballgame. It also doesn’t often happen that two of the first three games at the state tournament involve a running clock at the end of the first half.
But this is where we are.
As mentioned before, two games of the first day of the State C Boys’ Basketball Tournament were anything but close.
The Arlee Warriors proved they were the real deal in the opening minutes of a 85-46 victory over Culbertson. The win was Arlee’s 23rd in a row and it was out of hand early. Tyler Tanner led the Warriors scoring 16 points, while Philip Malatare added 13, and Brayden Brazill tallied 11. The Warriors jumped out to an early 23-9 lead at the end of one frame and it didn’t get any closer after that. The Warriors look the part of a number one seed here at the State C Tournament and many of the fans in the Four Seasons have already placed the Warriors in the Championship against Box Elder.
The Belt Huskies might have something to say about. The defending Class C State Champions are making struggled shooting the ball at the Four Seasons Arena but were able to outlast an impressive Terry squad, 43-34. Belt’s Koltin Haugrose led the way with 14 markers on just 5-for-15 shooting while Matt Metrione added 12 points. The Huskies finished the contest shooting just 14-for-41 (34.1%) from the floor. It wasn’t an impressive performance by the Belt crew that shot over fifty-percent from the field in the Divisional Championship game against Box Elder. But a win is a win at the State Tournament and it sets up a game against Arlee that is going to demand a much stronger performance than the mid-day shooting slump the Huskies experienced Thursday.
The third contest of the day between resembled the first as it was kind of one-sided. Okay, that might have been the understatement of the year. The Box Elder Bears trounced Reed Point-Rapelje, 83-26, in the first game of the evening session. Brandon The Boy led the way for Box Elder, in a game that was shortened due to the running clock, scoring a game-high 21 points. The Boy shot 9-for-12 from the floor including three from downtown and Pernell Morsette chipped in 13 points on 6-of-10 shooting. The Bears proved comfortable in the Four Seasons Arena as they shot 37-for-64 for the ballgame and 7-for-13 from outside 19’9. Box Elder proved they were the team to beat in this oh so lopsided victory.
The fourth contest of the day was a treat for those that stuck around for it. I’m talking a triple-overtime barn-burner. Heck, more than one barn burned down during that game that took 44 minutes of court time to decide a winner. In the end it was Westby-Grenora that won a contest that would probably end up a 5-5 series split if these two teams were to play 10 times. The Mon-Dak Thunder’s Kevin Rust scored 25 points and Daulton Holecek added 13 markers while going an impressive 9-for-9 at the charity stripe. Manhattan Christian gave it their all in the loss however, as Kyle Frye hit two buzzer-beating three pointers to put more time on the clock for the Eagles. The first Frye triple came off a spectacular inbound play drawn up by Head Coach Jeff Bellach during a timeout with 6.0 second left on the clock. Big man Kevin Blanksma added 19 points for the Eagles who fought to the bitter end of this one. I expect the Eagles to make some noise in the consolation side of the bracket in the days to come.
Tomorrow afternoon loser-out action gets started with Culbertson taking on Terry at 12:30 PM and Reed Point-Rapelje taking on Manhattan Christian at 2 PM.
Then the evening session promises to be a doozy as defending State Champ Belt takes on the impressive Arlee Warriors in the semis for the second consecutive year. Last year’s contest came down to the wire in the game the Huskies won, 67-65, but Arlee led late in the game. The nightcap of Box Elder and Westby-Grenora should be a good one as well as Box Elder looks to rekindle some of the magic that happened two years ago in the State Championship game when the Bears defeated the Thunder, 74-54, in Butte. The two games in the evening session tips off at 6:30 PM and 8 PM.
Well what a day of basketball at the State C Boys’ Tournament. We had blowouts, we had blown leads, and we had some blow-your-mind type plays in four games of basketball.
And Friday promises to be a wild one as well.
Be sure to follow me, Sean Ryan, on Twitter and say hi this weekend at the Class C Tournament.