The Victor Pirates looked great for 29 minutes of their opening game at the Class C state tournament. It was the last three minutes that got them as they fell to Westby-Grenora, 64-58.
The Pirates controlled the game for much of the first half. They took an eight-point lead into the half and had control of all aspects of the game. With Randy Miller, Kyle Ball and Corey Deering pulling down the boards and making the shots, the team had momentum on their side. However that was about to change. Ball and Deering each picked up their third foul in the early minutes of the third quarter. They had to back off their tough defense and that was just enough for Brady Olsen of Westby-Grenora to get hot. He had 11 points at the break but broke loose for 24 points in the second half.
Victor still had the lead at the end of the third quarter. During the break, Coach Drew Lewis told his team to ‘give it everything you got, we’ve got eight minutes.’ Even though they were playing cautiously, the Pirates were fouling and that was sending the Thunder to the charity line.
With the clock ticking down, Victor got a little tense and missed a few of the shots they were hitting earlier. Westby-Grenora took the lead for good on a Cooper Olson shot with little more than three minutes remaining. Victor resorted to fouling in the final minute but couldn’t erase the lead. The Thunder won, 64-58.
“Our backbone, our defense gave out,” said coach Drew Lewis. “I think the moment was bigger than us. We just have kind of been able to rely on our defense to win us games. It seemed like that Olsen kid could get to the rim whenever he wanted in the last four minutes.”
Ball finished with 24 points and six rebounds. Deering had 14 points and 11 rebounds. Miller had 10 points and nine rebounds. Ball and Deering paired up for six steals as well.
Westby-Grenora – Brady Olson 35, Cooper Olson 10, Thomas Fjeld 6, Adam Carlson 8, Parker Westgard 5.
Victor – Kyle Ball 24, Corey Deering 14, Matt Kittel 6, Randy Miller 10, Nate Bishop 2, Michael O’Leary 2.
Victor then had to play Melstone in loser out action on Friday. The Pirates dug themselves a deep hole in the first quarter and then had to claw their way back from the 11-point deficit. They took the lead in the third quarter and went on to win, 62-57. Ball was four of 10 from the three-point line and Matt Kittel, who finished with 26 points, was six of 13 from beyond the arc. Nate Bishop pulled down 13 rebounds.
Victor 62, Melstone 57
Victor – Kyle Ball 16, Corey Deering 12, Matt Kittel 26, Nate Bishop 6, Michael O’Leary 2.
Melstone – Jordan Kirby 2, Mark Papp 25, Brayden Wacker 10, Kyle Wilson 11, Austin Dejaegher 9.
The win gave Victor one more chance, on Saturday morning. These games are typically slow and take a while for the teams to get into the basketball mode. Someone forgot to tell Arlee that. The Warriors came out strongly and never looked back as they cruised to an 89-60 win over Victor.
“They didn’t give up,” said Lewis of his team. Victor finished with a 21-6 record. Westby-Grenora finished second behind Roy/Winnifred and Arlee was third.
Arlee 89, Victor 60
Victor – Derrick Cavill 6, Kyle Ball 13, Corey Deering 13, Matt Kittel 15, Randy Miller 7, Austin Lewis 2, Michael O’Leary 2, GP Monta 2.
Arlee – Christian Haynes 11, Rocky Lewis 31, Zack Camel 7, Josh Reed 10, Isaac Camel 7, Zane Ligas 3, Dominic Burland 4, Justin Adams 10, Patrick Big Sam 4, Isaac DesJarlais 2.