The Manhattan Christian boys basketball team still has yet to lose to a Class C opponent.
They Eagles continued their domination with a 61-46 win over Twin Bridges in the Western C Divisional Tournament semifinals on Friday afternoon.
Manhattan Christian (22-2) coach Jeff Bellach said he thought his team excelled in the paint during the second half.
“We have some pretty good big guys and the idea was to get to the rim,” Bellach said. “I feel like we did a really good job of that tonight. I feel like we have some kids who can knock down the three ball, but that was more our focus tonight to get to the rim.”
Manhattan Christian will face Arlee in the championship game at 6:30 p.m. Saturday. Twin Bridges will play Gardiner in the consolation semifinals at 9 a.m. at the Butte Civic Center. The loser of that game will be out of the tournament, while the winner advances to the consolation finals at 3:30 p.m.
The Falcons trailed the Eagles by just eight points at the start of the fourth quarter.
Manhattan Christian opened the scoring, and the Falcons ran into foul trouble. Senior Cooper Christensen, who has been vital in the post for Twin Bridges all season, fouled out and the Falcons struggled the rest of the quarter.
Twin Bridges went more than three minutes without a field goal to begin the final period. Senior Wesley Harshbarger scored both of the Falcons' field goals in the quarter, but the Eagles built up their 15-point win from the free-throw line in the final minutes of play.
Manhattan Christian was led by senior James Ramirez with 15 points. Fellow senior Joey Lodine dropped 14 points and grabbed 14 rebounds.
Falcons (17-5) coach Josh Keller said he was proud of his team’s efforts.
“They came out and they battled,” he said. “(Coach Jeff) Bellach is such a good coach. His team is so good. They’re a great, great team. I was just proud of my kids. They just battled. They got down and battled. They never gave up.”
Senior Kyle Frye, who knocked back four 3-pointers during the game, drained a trey to start the third quarter. But the Falcons answered back with their own trey from sophomore Clay Wolfe to pull within one.
Then Christensen’s foul trouble began.
During a scramble under the hoop, Christensen was called for his third foul. On the next play, he was hit with his fourth.
The towering duo of Ramirez and Lodine began attacking the rim after Christensen was pulled, combining for 11 points to build a 47-37 lead.
A trey from freshman Bryce Nye cut the Falcons' deficit to 50-42 heading into the fourth.
Manhattan Christian went on a 9-2 run in the first quarter to help build an early 12-point lead.
But Twin Bridges chipped away at the lead in the final four minutes of the half. The Eagles' final field goal of the quarter came from junior Ryan Busch with 4:10 remaining before the break. A 3-pointer from Nye and a late bucket from Christensen helped Twin pull within one at the break.
Leading the Falcons was Harshbarger with 17 points and three assists. Nye chipped in 15 points.
Manhattan Christian and Arlee will meet for a third time in a rown in the Western C championship.
“We won it two years ago over Arlee, and last year we played Arlee but couldn’t get past them,” Bellach said. “We still got to go to state., but this year I feel like we have a really good chance. The guys are excited to get back.”
ARLEE 71, ENNIS 64
The Mustangs gave the Warriors a scare in the final two minutes, but couldn't close the gap in their semifinal matchup.
Ennis will play Plains in a loser-out game at 9 a.m. on Saturday.
Arlee’s Isaac Fisher gave Arlee a 66-60 lead with a late free throw, before senior Jake Knack cut the lead to four.
But Ennis got into foul trouble in the final minute, and junior Will Mesteth hit a jumper to secure the win for Arlee.
The Warriors were led by Tyler Tanner with 24 points, and the Mustangs were led by Knack with 23 points.
PLAINS 69, LINCOLN 57
The Horsemen had big first and third quarters to squeak out a win over the Lynx.
Plains senior Ryan Ovitt put up 19 points and Lincoln senior Logan Fuit added 20 points, respectfully.
GARDINER 85, VALLEY CHRISTIAN 82
After a tight first half, the Bruins outshot the Eagles in the third quarter to hold on for the win.
The Bruins put up 27 points in the third quarter before holding off a late rally for the win.
The Bruins were led by Bryson Stermitz with 24 points, and Mason Woods led the Eagles with 25 points, respectfully.