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Pirates place third at State A Tournament for second year in a row

Char-Koosta News

State Class A Tournament final pairings

• Thursday, March 9
Opening Round
Dillon 60, Hardin 55
Butte Central 48, Belgrade 38 
Billings Central 57, Polson 37 

Laurel 57, Hamilton 48
• Friday, March 10

Loser out
Belgrade 68, Hardin 67, loser out
Polson 51, Hamilton 45, loser out
Dillon 53, Butte Central 39
Billings Central 47, Laurel 43 

• Saturday, March 11
Loser out
Polson 62, Butte Central 52
Belgrade 57, Laurel 46
Polson 54, Belgrade 47
Dillon 59, Billings Central 45

BUTTE — The Polson Pirates, for the second year in a row, played basketball at the Saturday night championship rounds. And for the second time in two years they took home the third place trophy. It obviously was not the trophy the Pirates wanted but in the final assessment it is one they will cherish in the long run. After all the rest of the Class A teams in the state except the top two wouldn’t mind being in the Pirates’ sneakers at the end of the day.

Each team starts the season with dreams and goals of a state championship and all know there will be only one in each of the four classes when all is said and done.

Billings Central 57, Polson 37

The Pirates dream of a championship trophy was quickly snuffed in their opening round game against the Billings Central Rams. The Pirates stumbled out of the gate and never really regained their footing or aim. Pirate coach Randy Kelley said the Pirates never got in their game groove.

“It was just a lack of execution on our part,” he told the Montana Standard. “We didn’t communicate very well on defense in the first half we got boxed out on a couple of their screens and stuff, and that was just a lack of communication. Offensively, we never got in a rhythm. I think we had 19 turnovers in the game and you can’t do that in a state tournament.”

The Pirates lack of offensive rhythm was apparent early; they managed only 11 first half points and trailed the Rams 14 (25-11) at the half. The Pirates exceeded their first half output in each of the third and fourth quarters, scoring 13 points in each for a 26-point half output. However the Rams countered that with 32-second half points. It all added up to a Rams 57-37 victory and a move on to the semifinals.

“It’s very frustrating,” Kelley said. “I’m at a loss for words. I was at a loss for words at halftime. I thought we lacked effort, really. I thought our effort was not there and that’s on me. I’ve got to get the kids ready to play and I’m not happy with the showing.”

The loss sent the Pirates game the loser-out game against the Hamilton Broncs. They would fare better and their trophy quest would regain traction.

Tanner Wilson led Polson with 15 points and Matthew Rensvold had 10.

Peyton Hanser led Billings Central with 15 points and Chrishon Dixon had 14.

Polson 51, Hamilton 45
The Pirates shrugged off their not-so-satisfying opening round outing against Billings Central and regained their focus in the Friday loser out game against the Hamilton Broncs.

The game was close throughout but it was the Pirates who hit the crucial buckets at the right time. They scooted out to a 19-14 first quarter lead that Hamilton countered with a 12-9 second quarter run to make the halftime score 28-26 in Polson’s favor.

It was a droughty third quarter for both teams with Polson outscoring the Broncs 9-7 to add a couple points to their lead. The teams entered the fourth with Polson up 4 (37-33).

The Broncs opened the fourth with an 8-4 run that knotted the game at 41-41 near the half of the final quarter. However the Pirates responded with a 10-4 run to close out the quarter and put them on the heavy end of the 51-45 victory.

“We had to play hard and win,” star front-liner Matt Rensvold told the Standard. “We couldn’t let them dictate the game. We knew they were going to hit 3s but we knew we had to get inside because we were bigger than them.”

The win bolstered their confidence and it remained high the rest of the tournament, and sent them to the Saturday morning loser out contest against Butte Central. And it was a game that tested their confidence.

 Matthew Rensvold led the Pirates with 16 points; Jaydon Bautista had 14 points and Tanner Wilson 9.

Tanner Goligoski led Hamilton with 13 points and Carter Kearns had 10 points.

Polson 62, Butte Central 59 (ot)
The game was very close through out the first half with the Maroons taking an 11-10 first quarter lead that the Pirates answered with a 10-8 second quarter output that put them up 20-19 at the half.

The Maroons came out of the break with guns a smoking and canned 20 points to Polson’s 12 to regain the lead and go into the fourth up 39-32. The Pirates, realizing the cost of a loss, upped their game and went on 20-13 fourth quarter run to tie the game up at 52-all at the buzzer and send the game into overtime. The Pirates outscored Butte Central in the overtime period and won the game by 3 points (62-59).

The loss ended Butte Central’s season; the Polson win earned them a consolation game match against Belgrade that evening.

Tanner Wilson led the Pirates with 23 points; Jaydon Bautista had 19 and  Matthew Rensvold 10 points.

Nate McGree led the Maroons with 13 points; Tanner Kump had 11 and Matt Simkins had 10 points.

Polson 54, Belgrade 47
The Pirates owned the first half with a 13-6 first quarter and that combined with a 16-4 second quarter gave them the halftime lead at 29-10. Both teams canned 9 points in the third quarter and Polson was on top 38-19 going into the final stanza. The Panthers exploded for 28 points in the fourth quarter that got them within 4 points with just over a minute to go. However the Pirates 16-point output was enough to keep them at bay and walk off the court with a 54-47 win, and the third place Class A Tournament trophy. And as every hoopster knows it’s better to go home with some extra baggage than empty handed and thoughts of what could have been.

Matthew Rensvold led the Pirates with 17 points and 11 rebounds; Jeremiah North Peigan 15 points and Jaydon Bautista had 8 points,

Dawson Fowler led Belgrade with 17 points and Trey Layman had 12.

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