BUTTE — There were 1:46 left in the Class C state championship.
Coming out of a timeout, Arlee’s Greg Whitesell motioned towards his teammates, reminding them of something. One minute and 46 seconds was the exact same ‘good’ time for a drill they did, called ‘17’s.’
It was a reminder. And over those final 106 seconds, the Warriors were able to pull away from Manhattan Christian, beating the Eagles 66-58 for their second-straight title.
“I was just telling those guys it was one more of those, we’ve got one more to do,” Whitesell said. “It paid off, I guess. I’m speechless. It’s all glory to God.”
Despite an early surge from the Eagles, the Warriors seemed to have control of the game most of the way through. A deep, arching three-pointer from Will Mesteth off a beautifully executed play at the very end of the second quarter put an exclamation point on the first half.
The deep, arching shot put Arlee up by seven at halftime.
Mesteth and Phillip Malatare each had 18 points for the Warriors, who finish the season at a perfect 26-0.
“Every time (Mesteth) hits a three, it motivates us,” Malatare said. “It gets us going. Every time we can strike a three, put one in, it boosts our energy.”
The Eagles managed to keep the game close and went on runs during the third and fourth quarter that got the game to within a single possession. Manhattan Christian, however, could never quite get the stop or momentum shot they needed to take the lead.
Caleb Bellach led the Eagles with 27 points on 9-of-25 shooting. Matthew Amunrud was the only other Eagle in double figures.
“Gosh, those are a good group of boys,” Arlee head coach Zanen Pitts said of Manhattan Christian. “It’s a phenomenal program.”
It was an emotional and meaningful win for the Warriors, who recently made a video that went viral raising awareness for suicide, which has rocked their community.
“For us to raise awareness about suicide, it’s amazing for us to be able to use our platform to speak about it,” Whitesell said. “We’re trying to talk about something that really doesn’t want to be spoken about and that’s amazing.”
MELSTONE 46, SCOBEY 39
The scene outside Melstone’s locker room after the Broncs 46-39 win over Scobey in the third-place game was one of hugs, happy tears and smiles.
The team’s mascot, Boomer, took up a good portion of the cramped hallway outside the Broncs’ locker room in the Butte Civic Center. Then, suddenly, 6-foot-5 forward Beni Jankovits and 6-foot-8 center Carson Hein appeared in the hallway and movement became completely impossible.
Jankovits, who scored 17 points, including a critical old fashioned three-point play with under 30 seconds left, just looked around in amazement.
“I can’t describe what I feel right now,” Jankovits, a foreign-exchange student from Hungary, said. “I’ve never played in a tournament like this, with so many people. The crowds huge. I like it.”
For the Broncs, it was a bit of revenge as well.
Scobey and Melstone played in the first game of the tournament, a controversial win for the Spartans.
With 1.3 seconds left in that contest, Brody Grebe shot a free throw, it missed, and Scobey was awarded the ball with one second left after officials determined the buzzer sounded before the clock had ran out.
The Spartans then converted a miracle three-pointer as time expired. It was a tough way to lose.
“We had to beat Scobey twice, but we got it done,” Melstone head coach Jason Grebe said. “After getting let down, they could have climbed in a hole and felt sorry for yourself. But they didn’t, and they stood up like men, they wanted it.
“They proved to them we could beat them twice and we proved to them we’re going to get hit in the jaw, get hit below the belt, and come back with more at you.”
In Saturday night’s third-place matchup, it was again a back-and-forth affair that rarely saw either team lead by more than a single possession. Melstone led most of the game, but the Spartans took a two-point lead in the middle of the fourth-quarter following back-to-back three-pointers from senior guard CJ Nelson.
Nelson finished with 15 points on 5-of-14 shooting and struggled to find his range in the first half of the game. He was the only Scobey player in double figures.
Despite the punch, Melstone battled back, however, behind clutch baskets from Brody Grebe and Jankovitis over the final four minutes of the game.
Grebe finished with 14 points. His head coach and father choked up when he started to talk about him.
“I just told Brody, ‘you’re the toughest kid I know,”’ Jason Grebe said. “Kid’s tough. I don’t know a kid that can do so many things… he perseveres, when you think you’re going to get him down, you’re not going to hold him down.
“He’s gonna get up and then he’s gonna kick your butt.”
MELSTONE 53, PARK CITY 51
Up by nine points to begin the fourth quarter, Melstone looked like it wasn't going to have much of an issue getting into the Class C third-place game against Scobey.
Park City decided to make things difficult, going on a 15-7 run early in the fourth quarter to make it a two-point game. The Broncs, however, played excellent defense over the final minute of the game to preserve the win, taking the game 53-51.
Brody Grebe scored 21 points on 7-of-11 shooting, but hit just six of his 13 foul shots. Free throws were part of the reason the game closed toward the end as Melstone made 17-of-32 as a team.
Park City was 12-of-15 from the charity stripe.
Talon Johnstone had 18 points to lead Park City, while Connor McNeil added 12 more. The Panthers struggled from the field, hitting just 28.3 percent of its shots from the field.
Melstone was 17-of-33 (51.5 percent) from the field for the game.
The Broncs' win sets them up for a rematch with Scobey in the consolation finals. Melstone and the Spartans met in a first-round game, which Scobey won after a controversial decision to add a second on the clock after an inadvertent buzzer allowed them a chance for a game-winning shot, which they hit.
SCOBEY 64, FAIRVIEW 59.
CJ Nelson had 18 points, five rebounds and four steals as Scobey took the first consolation semifinal of the Class C State basketball tournament by beating Fairview, 64-59.
A tightly contested game throughout, Fairview led by as many as seven points in the first half. The Spartans were able to cut into the lead, however, and finally took a lead they wouldn’t relinquish in the third quarter on a Nelson free throw.
Nelson finished 10-of-16 from the line and was fouled twice on three-point attempts.
Up by five with under 40 seconds left, the Spartans missed four-straight free throws during a stretch late in the game. Fairview wasted two possessions, but the were finally able to get a three-pointer to go down with 25 seconds left.
After splitting a pair of free throws, Fairview had one last chance to tie the game. The Warriors turned the ball over and then Fairview’s Carson Cayko was assessed a technical foul for throwing the ball into the stands out of frustration.
Cadan Handran recorded a double-double for the Spartans with 13 points and 10 rebounds. Riley Linder was also in double digits with 10 points.
Cody Asbeck had 17 points to lead Fairview. Josh Herron had 16 points, eight rebounds, and a monster dunk in the first half for the Warriors. Cayko (13) and Alex Schriver (11) were also in double digits.
Fairview is eliminated from the tournament while Scobey moves to the third-place game against either Park City or Melstone.