Playing in Dillon against Dillon is tough for any team but when it’s the divisional championship, the environment is downright hostile. The hometown crowd packs the house and then there are all the banners on the walls noting the school’s past accomplishments. The Stevensville Yellowjackets came into the championship game feeling confident and looking to punch their ticket to the state tournament in Butte this weekend.
Freshman Jesse Sims struck first for Stevensville with a short jumper but that would be two of only seven points the ‘Jackets scored in the first quarter. The Dillon defense stifled both the inside and outside game for Stevensville. In addition, Dillon shot and made nine of nine free throws in the first quarter while Stevensville hit one of two. The physical play continued in the second quarter where Dillon built up a 20-point lead.
Josh Schultz hit a couple of treys in the third quarter to give the ‘Jackets a little momentum. Stevensville pulled within 12 points a couple of different times in the quarter but couldn’t close the gap any more than that. Dillon went on to win, 66-50.
“I thought the second half was better. We didn’t get the job done,” said coach Keith Chambers. “We still have a chance and that’s all you can ask for.”
Stevensville played Corvallis who finished in third place, in a challenge game on Monday night in Hamilton. Results were not available at press time.
Dillon 66, Stevensville 50
Stevensville – Jared Schultz 8, Zach Gavlak 7, Jesse Sims 11, Josh Schultz 22, Tyler Gavlak 2.
Dillon – Austin Williams 10, J.T. Linder 8, Ben Folsom 14, Chevy Reed 10, Wes Knox 13, Troy Scott 6, Caleb Gillis 2, Boyd Jenne 3.
Butte Central handed Stevensville their first loss of the season early in January 21st so in addition to earning a berth in the championship game, the Yellowjackets wanted to avenge that loss. They came out strongly with Zach Gavlak establishing himself underneath in the inside game.
“It was two really good teams putting it all on the line,” said Chambers.
A charge by Austin Kelling and a couple of missed shots slowed down the ‘Jacket’s momentum. Butte Central’s Kale Guldseth hit a field goal and then Keegan McCarthy hit a trey to pull the Maroons within two as time was running out in the first half. Tyler Gavlak retaliated with a bank shot off the glass at the buzzer to give the ‘Jackets a four point margin. Stevensville maintained the lead throughout the third quarter but never by much. Josh Schultz hit a long two pointer to put Stevi up by four. Brady Tippet hit one of two free throws and then McCarthy field goal to pull Butte Central back within one point at the end of three quarters. With just over a minute remaining in the game, Tyler Gavlak passed to his brother, Zach, under the basket. Zach hit the short jumper to give Stevi a four point lead. Stevensville hung on to win, 37-34.
Stevensville 37, Butte Central 34
Butte Central – McCarthy 16, Hollow 4, Kaspheric 6, Simkins 2, Tippett 1, Kale Guldseth 5,
Stevensville – Jared Schultz 4, Zach Gavlak 10, Jesse Sims 6, Josh Schultz 13, Tyler Gavlak 4.
Corvallis and Hamilton tangled in their first game of the tournament and then met again in the consolation game on Saturday. Hamilton opened their tournament play with a plan to stop Corvallis and get the initial win of the tournament according to Coach Toby Stack. Although Corvallis had an early lead, the persistent defense by the Broncs chipped away at the lead. Hamilton shot 30 free throws in the game and made 28 of them in the 61-54 upset win. Brad Palin had 26 points for Hamilton.
“The kids brought into the defense plan,” said Stack. “It was about getting that initial win.”
Hamilton 61, Corvallis 54
Hamilton – Jeremy Johnson 5, Brad Palin 26, Eli Rodgers 9, Reese Isherwood 7, Seth Mason 2, Denny Hoselton 4, Josh Bauder 8.
Corvallis – Stuart Landis 6, Colby Henderson 4, Beau Maus 11, Riley Bradshaw 18, Chase Walker 8, Jansen Jessop 7.
With the win, Hamilton advanced to the semi finals where they met up with Dillon. Dillon got out to a quick start in that game and quickly pulled away to an 11-point lead. Hamilton didn’t give up but couldn’t catch the Beavers. Palin led the Broncs with 10 points.
“We had to put together four good quarters against Dillon who may be the best team in the state (in Class A),” said Stack. “I thought the kids came out and fought with them.”
Corvallis had to take on Butte Central Saturday morning to keep their state tournament dreams alive. The two teams were neck and neck throughout most of the game before Corvallis senior Beau Maus hit a trey to tie the game at 31 all. Chase Walker hit a shot from inside the paint to give the lead to the Blue Devils. Although the Maroons took the lead once more in the fourth quarter, the tough defense of the Blue Devils created a turnover and gave the Blue Devils the 47-45 point win.
“Our defense was solid,” said Coach Dave Bradshaw. “Beau got a couple of big baskets and that was huge.”
While Corvallis was keeping their season alive, Hamilton was taking on Anaconda in loser out action also. Palin had 21 points for the Broncs in their 54-38 victory.
The wins by the Broncs and the Blue Devils set up another match in the consolation game. The Blue Devils knew if they won, they would be able to challenge either Dillon or Stevensville for a chance to advance to state. That knowledge may have given Corvallis the edge. Corvallis jumped to an early lead and then went on to win, 52 to 40. Riley Bradshaw had 18 points to lead Corvallis. Colby Henderson added 17 points and Maus had 13 points. Palin finished with 11 points for Hamilton.
Hamilton finished with a 5-17 record.
Depending upon who won the challenge game Monday night, Corvallis or Stevensville will take on Columbia Falls, the No. 1 seed from the Northwest A conference, at 6:30 pm Thursday night in Butte at the Civic Center.