There is no doubting the heart and soul of the Lima Bears boys’ basketball team.
Unfortunately for the District 11-12 C Tournament’s ninth-seeded team their size on a height chart doesn’t match the mass of the muscle that beats inside their chests.
That is why in Wednesday’s final boys play-in game at the Maroons Activities Center in Butte, the eighth-seeded Harrison/Willow Creek Wildcats would have enough to hold off the Bears for a 59-37 win and advance to a Thursday quarterfinal against top seed Twin Bridges at 9 a.m.
The Wildcats (7-12) pulled away for a win that took some work in creating thanks to a smart second half of play buoyed by a stellar offensive performance on the interior.
“Lima originally brought atriangle and two matching up with Steven Strong and Garrett Petersen,” Wildcats head coach Jason Roed said. “So we went inside and got it to John Brennan. Once they pulled into a 2-3 we ran our standard set which we are pretty confident with. I thought Lima played really scrappy defense and got us frustrated in the first half, that’s for sure. Their defense was great and we had never seen that before.”
The Wildcats were led by the brawny duo of Brennan (21 points) and Petersen (13 points).
The early moments of the tussle made it apparent that neither team would take no quarter as they both attacked the rim with purpose and defended their hoops with intensity as both teams struggled to hit the bottom of the net.
Lima led 4-2 over five minutes into the first quarter on baskets by Gavin Duck and Stephen Herriott.
Bodies were all over the floor as Wildcats and Bears alike scrapped for every loose ball and rebound in a game that brought the most out of the fans’ vocal chords.
Lima would lead 8-4 after the first quarter as Duck hit a jumper right before the buzzer.
Things remained status quo as the squads continued to attack the other without any sustained offensive success.
The Bears bumped their lead up to 13-6 thanks to some successful free throws as their defense kept the Wildcats to single-digits until a Brennan power move with 3:11 left in the first half made it 13-10.
Then a turnover in the backcourt found its way to Strong and the Wildcat would score to tie the game at 14-14.
As the teams headed into the break, Lima would hold a narrow 18-17 lead.
Two free throws early in the third quarter by Dylan Lehman gave the Wildcats a 19-18 edge.
Brennan used his superior size to create space inside and his post floater made it 25-22 in favor of Harrison/Willow Creek with 4:05 left in the third quarter.
Then Strong hit a three and Garrett Peterson scored in transition to give the Wildcats their biggest lead 30-24 as the time started to run out on the Bears.
Brennan then hit for two quick doubles and suddenly Harrison/Willow Creek was running away with things, 36-24 with 1:45 to go in the third quarter.
The run was propelled by the Wildcats smartly pounding it inside to take advantage of their size advantage and Lima going cold from all points of the hardwood.
Duck would hit a three right before the buzzer to end the Harrison/Willow Creek 17-point run to go into the fourth quarter down 42-27.
One key to the Wildcats building their lead was holding the Mayer-Duck pairing to four total made shots and 14 points through the first three quarters.
In the fourth quarter neither teams’ effort diminished, but both squads didn’t distinguish themselves as the Wildcats held their edge and Lima couldn’t muster a serious threat to the deficit.
A Petersen layup on the break put the Wildcats up 51-31 and the boys of Harrison/Willow Creek were minutes away from a date with the Falcons of Twin Bridges.
Lima was led by Mayer’s 10 points, Duck’s nine points, and the seven points from Chris Sutton.
“We started off with a zone and when we switched to man Dylan Lehman is our shut down defensive player and I threw him on Duck and Tyler VonBergen on Mayer,” Roed said. “Those are our two most intense defensive players on the wing. I do feel confident after the second half on offense and the intensity we showed. Twin Bridges is obviously a great team, but if our offense is as fluid as it was in the second half we could hang with them.”
LIMA 8 10 9 10 - 37
H/WC 4 13 25 17 - 59
Zach Thornton 2 0-0 4, Dee Mayer 2 6-8 10, Gavin Duck 3 2-5 9, Chris Sutton 2 3-6 7, Stephen Herriott 3 1-4 7, Sam Congdon 0 0-0 0. TOTALS 12 12-23 37..
HARRISON/WILLOW CREEK (7-12)
Tyler VonBergen 2 0-0 4, Steven Strong 4 0-0 9, Dylan Lehman 3 3-5 9, Garrett Petersen 6 1-2 13, John Brennan 9 3-6 21, Levi Strickland 1 0-0 2, Brett Petersen 0 0-1 0, Josh Nye 0 1-2 1, Jon Strong 0 0-0 0, Tristan Schedel 0 0-0 0, Jarrod Nye 0 0-0 0. TOTALS: 25 8-16 59.
Lone Peak 40, Sheridan 29
Aiming for a third straight trip to the District 11-12 C tournament quarterfinals, the Lone Peak Big Horns faced a ready-to-go outfit in the 10th-seeded Sheridan Panthers.
With the Panthers assuming control at the end of the first half, the seventh-seeded Big Horns faced the possibility that the Panthers would be ready to pull off the first upset of the Play-In round at the Maroons Activities Center.
Yet, Lone Peak (8-11) found its defensive prowess in the second half, held Sheridan (3-16) to 10 points after halftime and would pull away for a 40-29 win to advance to a Thursday quarterfinal game against second-seeded Ennis at 3 p.m. at the MAC.
“That was a good summary of our season,” Lone Peak head coach Al Malinowski said. “We took some lumps along the way, but we learned from them. At mid-season we may not have been able to come back from a deficit but the experience with three seniors helped and our young kids stepped up. Kids are recognizing that they can step up and contribute and that when they are in there they have to take advantage of their opportunities.”
There was a smooth ebb and flow to the game early as both teams ran their offenses efficiently despite some pretty good defenses on both side.
A Trevor House steal and layup with three minutes left in the first quarter gave the Big Horns an early cushion at 10-6.
Sheridan would score the quarter’s last three points and finish the first eight minutes down 10-9.
A Colter Kenworthy runner early in the second quarter put the Panthers up 11-10.
Both teams grew cold over the next four minutes as they were deadlocked in a 13-13 tie as neither team got many clean looks at the rim.
Sheridan’s Brandon Burke ended a five-minute long scoreless stretch between the squads, with a runner off the left side for a 15-13 Panther lead with just over a minute before halftime.
Shortly after, Seth Green ripped the chords, and Burke scored again as Sheridan was suddenly up 19-13 with the teams headed into the intermission.
At the start of the third quarter, Lone Peak attacked the rim with aplomb and a Haven Morris three-point play off of an offensive putback brought the Big Horns to within 21-18.
With Sheridan up 23-18, both teams went into another shooting rut as Lone Peak tried to put a dent on the deficit but to no avail for over three minutes.
Finally, Tucker Shea got himself free inside and the Big Horn manufactured a twisting lay-up to make it 23-20 with 2:22 left in the quarter.
Moments later, freshman Ben Russell scored off of a Sheridan turnover and the layup cut the Sheridan lead to 23-22 with 1:58 to go in the third.
Then just 40 seconds later a Justin McKillop triple completed the Lone Peak rally, putting his boys up 25-23 as the quarter wound down.
Kenworthy’s basket in the lane tied things at 25-25 but Russell would calmly splash home a three-ball at the buzzer and Lone Peak led 28-25 going into the final eight minutes.
House scored before Grayson Bell rained in the Big Horns’ fifth three on the day and suddenly Lone Peak was up 33-25.
Trailing 35-25, Green got Sheridan finally on the board in the quarter with a runner in the lane at the 3:37 mark to cut the deficit to eight points.
Lone Peak appeared to tense up a bit, but Sheridan could only score once on a Kenworthy deuce as the Panthers’ defense did everything it could to turn the tide.
A Morris follow on a missed free throw by a fellow Big Horn and a House charity toss bumped Lone Peak’s lead to 38-29 with less than a minute to go and the game was essentially put away.
House and Morris split scoring honors with 11 points apiece for the Big Horns, while Kenworthy paced Sheridan with 11 points himself.
Sheridan 9 10 6 4 - 29
Lone Peak 10 3 15 12 - 40
No. 10 SHERIDAN (3-16)
Brant Marsh 2 0-2 4, Eric Browne 0 0-2 0, Brandon Burke 2 0-1 4, Michael Tilstra 1 0-0 2, Colter Kenworthy 5 1-2 11, Seth Green 4 0-0 8, TOTALS:14 1-7 29
No. 7 LONE PEAK (8-11)
Tucker Shea 1 2-6 4, Grayson Bell 1 0-0 3, Trevor House 4 2-4 11, Haven Morris 5 1-3 11, Justin McKillop 2 0-1 6, Cooper Shea 0 0-0 0, Ben Russell 2 0-0 5, Tehya Braun 0 0-0 0, Quinn House 0 0-0 0.
TOTALS:15 5-12 40
Gardiner 75, West Yellowstone 22
A start to the post-season means a chance at a new start and the building of new dreams.
For the West Yellowstone Wolverines, the 11th seed at the District 11-12 C basketball tournament at the Maroons Activities Center, Wednesday’s play-in round was a chance to start over.
But the winless Wolverines faced off against a game and rugged Gardiner Bruins team who wouldn’t tale their sixth-seed lightly and they rolled to a 75-22 win over the boys from West Yellowstone.
Gardiner advances to play third-seed Shields Valley on Thursday at 4:30 p.m. in a district quarterfinal contest.
Gardiner went on a 14-0 run through most of the first quarter before a Micheal Collins trifecta it and pulled the Wolverines (0-19) to within 14-4 with just over three minutes left in the first quarter.
The Bruins (9-9) could have led by more than 19-7 at the end of the first quarter as their dominance on the boards and in the paint translated to a number of missed layups and chippies.
Gardiner came out strong to start the second quarter scoring the first nine points to build a 28-7 lead as their leading scorer Jarrett Kremer set the pace inside and out.
Kremer would finish the first half with 16 points to pace the Bruins to a commanding 41-13 lead at halftime.
Collins led the Wolverines with eight points through the first 16 minutes.
Midway through the third quarter the Bruins eclipsed the 35-point lead barrier and the mercy rule was instituted as Gardiner would pull away and move on to the next round.
Ten different players scored for Gardiner with six scoring at least seven points.
Kremer finished with 19 points, Eddie Rodarte added 11 points, Forest Reinhardt added a 10-point game, and Alex Coy registered nine points for the Bruins.
“Depth will be key for us moving forward,” Gardiner head coach Jordan Featherman said. “We will need contributions one through 12. If you have Bruins on your jersey, we will need a contribution. Today was a very good start for us. Shields Valley next and that’s a big rival. That will be big for these kids.”
Collins finished his day with 10 points.
W. Yellowstone 7 6 7 2 - 22
Gardiner 19 22 21 13 - 75
No. 11 WEST YELLOWSTONE (0-19)
Micheal Collins 4 1-2 10, Asael Vasquez 1 1-2 3, Nick Liszka 2 0-3 5, Sage Parker 0 0-0 0, Tristan Burden 1 0-0 2, Jared Barney 0 0-1 0, Garrett Amado 0 0-2 0, Andrew Watt 0 0-0 0, Austin Mitic 1 0-0 2, Elijah Curtis 0 0-0 0. TOTALS: 9 2-10 22
No. 6 GARDINER (9-9)
Jarrett Kremer 8 2-4 19, Jordan Darr 1 3-4 6, Forrest Reinhart 4 0-0 8, Connor Wines 3 4-4 10, Alex Coy 3 1-3 7, Parker Robinson 3 2-4 8, Nolan Darr 0 0-0 0, Eddie Rodarte 3 5-7 11, Nick Sabo 1 0-0 2, Wyatt Wilkinson 1 0-0 2, Tristan Swainson 1 0-0 2, Seth Tyson 0 0-0 0.
TOTALS: 27 17-26 75