Brandon Johnson drives to the basket after stealing the ball in the championship game against Loyola. Florence won their fifth consecutive championship on Saturday. Jean Schurman photo
A put back shot by Brady Pickering at the buzzer gave the Florence Falcons their fifth consecutive District 6B championship. Florence had the lead for much of the fourth quarter, forcing Loyola to play catch up. With less than 40 seconds remaining and behind by three points, Loyola put up a trey to tie the game. That shot was blocked. Florence’s Brad Schaff grabbed the ball but was tied up and a jump ball called. The ball went back to Loyola. Their go-to guy, JJ Anderson sent a long ball to the bucket for three points and a tied game. There was 5 seconds left.
After a quick time out to set the play, Levi Clagett inbounded the ball to Brandon Johnson who passed it to Schaff underneath the basket. Schaff put the ball up but it rattled out. Pickering was right there and tipped it back in as the buzzer sounded. Florence, by two.
“We’ve had a lot of close games this year,” said first-year coach Boone Nelson. “They have learned not to quit.”
Nelson said he had expected this game to be a close one. “Loyola’s a good team, tough to stop. Brandon Johnson did a great job slowing Anderson down.”
Florence will meet Troy, the No. 4 seed from District 7B at 1pm on Wednesday in Hamilton at the Western B Divisional.
Florence 38, Loyola 36
Florence – Travern Smith 13, Levi Clagett 9, Brad Schaff 9, Ryan Mangun 2, Brandon Johnson 3, Brady Pickering 2.
Loyola – JJ Anderson 17, Zach Hollenback 7, Matt McHugh 4, Danner Linhart 2, Tony Madsen 2, Kevin Swanson 2, Strother Cooper 2.
Florence defeated Deer Lodge, 48-34, in the semi final game on Friday. The Falcons got off to a slow start but took the lead at the end of the first half. The two teams battled but a big quarter by Levi Clagett and Brad Schaff powered the Falcons to the win. Schaff had five points in the quarter. Clagett finished with 19 points.
Florence 48, Deer Lodge 34
Deer Lodge – Tristen Clark 10, Andrew Pierson 2, Jake Simpson 6, Logan Doiron 4, Derek Walker 5, Cade Benjamin 2, Dakota Crowe 2, Kahel Lowery 3.
Florence – Ryan Mangun 8, Brad Schaff 6, Levi Claggett 19, Brandon Johnson 2, Travern Smith 6, Jake Christopherson 3, Brady Pickering 4.