Have you ever heard of a little thing called “Hi-Line Magic”?
Coach Mike Seymour pulled the proverbial rabbit out of his hat on Thursday morning when the Chinook Sugarbeeters defeated 10C District Champion Sunburst in overtime, 39-38. Trailing by four points, 36-32 with just under two minutes left to play in regulation the team from Chinook clawed their way back and forced an overtime with the Refiners.
They didn’t force an overtime with magic, but with grit, determination, and a heavy dose of lengthy bigs. Trailing by four Chinook’s Cord Schneider scored on a move from the block and the Beeters found themselves down just two, 36-34 with 1:10 left.
After an empty Sunburst possession, the Beeters tied it up at 36-all when Isaac Bell split the two-guard defense of the Refiners and hit a layup in the lane and 19 seconds on the clock. For an 11 AM game in the Four Seasons it was a dandy.
In the overtime the Sugarbeeters capitalized on Sunburst turnovers and Cord Schneider stole the ball away at half court with just four seconds on the clock.
With time winding down, Schneider was off in a race against time. Fans across the gym darted their eyes from the scoreboard to Schneider and from Schneider to the scoreboard. Right before the horn was set to blow Schneider was fouled and earned the 1-and-1 opportunity at the free throw line.
There wasn’t a seat in the place that had anyone sitting back comfortably as Schneider went to the line. Stepping to the stripe, Schneider’s attempt barely crept over the front of the iron before rattling around and to give Chinook the 39-38 lead.
As his second attempt missed and the Sugarbeeters secured the rebound the horn finally sounded and the “Hi-Line Magic” was complete for Coach Mike Seymour and company.
And why shouldn’t Chinook be the beneficiary of “Hi-Line Magic” here at the Northern C Tournament.
With a darn tough draw entering the Four Seasons Arena the Beeters had to face the No. 3 seed out of the 8C DGS, who entered their District Tournament second in the conference last weekend, in the play-in game Wednesday night.
I’m not sure the defensive strategy was to let Rhet Woodhall score a tournament-high 32 points in the opening game of the Boys Northern C but it worked out. With great play by his slew of underclassman who play like they’ve got all the experience in the world when it’s called for the Beeters bested the Bearcats 63-58.
I saw these Beeter boys play last January up in Fort Benton calling a game for KRYK radio in Chinook. My thoughts on the Chinook youth was something like, “Man these kids are going to be really good in one or two years.”
Well I guess my timeline was off.
The Sugarbeeters are good now. With size at 6-6, 6-4, and 6-4 in the post and the benefit of youth being on their side these Chinook kids are a delight to watch. With rim protecting bigs who can swat away shots in the lane and guards who know how to keep control of the game when chaos surrounds them.
Chinook is proof that maturity isn’t inherently dependent on age. Sometimes the young buck can make a play that makes a crafty veteran envious and that was what a team chock full of sophomores did time and time again in the Four Seasons Arena.
So maybe it isn’t magic. Maybe it’s good coaching.
But to be the kind of team to win a play-in game against DGS where you are the underdog Wednesday night and to turn around and knock off a No. 1 seed out of the 10C Thursday morning isn’t an everyday occurrence.
So, next time you bump into Coach Mike Seymour go ahead and check his sleeves.
There might just be a few aces up them.
Sean Ryan broadcasts Class C tournament basketball games for KINX 102.7 FM in Great Falls.