BUTTE — Manhattan Christian and Arlee are set for a rematch of the 2017 Boys’ Class C State Championship game.
The Eagles shut down Park City in the second half along the way to an 74-50 win in the semifinal game. Last year, the Warriors beat Manhattan Christian by four points. Throughout this season the Eagles motto has been “unfinished” and they’ll have a chance to complete the goal of a state title on Saturday evening.
“I’m just so proud of the boys for getting back. We left last year hungry to get back,” Manhattan Christian head coach Jeff Bellach said. “That’s stuck with them all year long.”
Caleb Bellach scored 35 points on 12-of-24 shooting to lead Manhattan Christian against the Panthers. The Eagles hit 10-of-22 three-pointers and were dominate from behind the arc throughout the evening.
Manhattan Christian went on a 14-2 run over the final 3:45 of the first half to gain separation and Park City never got any closer.
“I think we were playing a little tight,” Bellach said. “All of us were, myself included. I think we just had to relax a little bit, but give credit to them. They play hard, they get after it on defense and they’re physical.
“It took us a little bit to adjust but I’m proud of the way the boys handled it.”
ARLEE 76, SCOBEY 71
Down 10 points after the first quarter to Scobey in the Class C state tournament semifinals, the defending champion Arlee Warriors weren’t worried.
They might be sick, like guard Phil Malatare, who played every second, despite throwing up during one timeout. Or they might be sore, like Greg Whitesell, who played through quite a bit of pain in his leg.
The Warriors are mentally tough and it helped lead them to a 76-71 win over the Spartans.
“We kept talking, ‘Greg, you don’t have a leg right now, separate it, separate the leg, you don’t feel the pain,’ ‘Phil, you are not sick, separate it, mentally separate those things from your body,”’ Arlee head coach Zanen Pitts said. “And they did. We’ve talked about with them for years. It’s something we’ve all been brought up with, separating the pain, separating the emotion.
“Getting it away from you so you can focus on the task at hand and so you can execute down the stretch.”
Down by six at halftime, the Warriors outscored the Spartans by 18 points in the third quarter. Scobey was able to respond in the final minutes of the game — cutting the lead to three with under 30 seconds left.
Arlee, however, just wouldn’t let the win slip away. Malatare dropped 28 points on 11-of-18 shooting while also grabbing 13 rebounds and dishing out four assists. Will Mesteth added 18 points and Greg Whitesell had 14.
The Warriors missed the front end of two one-and-one’s late and up by a single possession, but were able to get an offensive rebound on the first and then held on defense after the second.
CJ Nelson led Scobey, who suffered its first loss of the season, with 22 points. Arlee remains undefeated and will play in the state title game.
“I just wanted to coach from the beginning and be a good AAU coach for my son and now I’m here,” Pitts said. “It’s pretty cool. It’s a surreal opportunity. We’re bringing it tomorrow. That game we just had, we don’t talk about it the minute we leave the locker room.
“We talk 100 percent about the team that we’re going to play.”
FAIRVIEW 61, HEART BUTTE 47
Carson Cayko seemed to come out of nowhere.
There were just 4.4 seconds left in the first half of Fairview’s loser-out game against Heart Butte, who were trying to inbound the ball. Cayko snatched the ball away as it was thrown in and, without hesitation, put up a three-point shot that hit nothing but the bottom of the net.
Instead of going into halftime down nine, Fairview trailed by just six. The Warriors would come out of halftime on a tear and beat Heart Butte 61-47.
“Being down six is a lot better than being down nine is a lot better, for sure,” Fairview head coach Ryan Kopp said. “It gave us a little bit of confidence going into halftime, a little bit of fire. He’s been our emotional leader all season and for him to step up and hit a shot like that, it was really important for us.”
Heart Butte was able to keep Fairview at distance for most of the first half and behind Riley Spoonhunter’s seven points in the first 16 minutes, it looked like they had control of the game.
Fairview, however, held the Warriors to 28.6 percent from the field in the second half of the game.
Fairview hit 14-of-23 shots in the second half and hit all four of its three-point attempts.
“I went a little deeper in my bench than I normally do and played Braiden Taylor. He gave us a little more size so we were able to get a little better matchups,” Kopp said. “Our rebounding was a bit better down low too, with a little bit bigger guys in there.”
Heart Butte, which entered the tournament 24-0, makes a quick exit. Riley Spoonhunter ended with 12 points, while Shylon Spoonhuner ended with 11.
Cayko ended with 18 for Fairview, while Josh Herron (13), Cody Asbeck (11) and Alex Schriver (11) were also in double digits.
MELSTONE 37, BELT 20
Yesterday, the Melstone boys basketball time had a cruel ending to its first-round Class C state tournament game, losing to Scobey in on a last second shot set up by a controversial clock decision.
On Friday afternoon, in a loser-out game, there was no sign of that disappointment and the Broncs led from start to finish.
"Our kids, from yesterday, were full of emotion and wanted to play hard," Melstone head coach Jason Grebe said. "Yesterday hurt us, it was like a knife drove in us.
"We should be playing Saturday night in any instance and I told them don't pout, but take it out on the next team."
From the tip, it was obvious the Broncs were locked in. Melstone had just nine turnovers during the game and made crisp, smart passes as they were patient and looked for a good shot.
The Broncs shot 42.4 percent from the field for the game, while holding the Huskies to 8-of-34 from the field. Belt made just two of its 17 three-point attempts.
Brody Grebe had 15 points to lead all scorers and nearly had a massive dunk. Keagan Stroop and Kaimen Evans each had five points to lead the Huskies.
Neither team was in much of a hurry throughout the game and both were content to play a slower-paced game.
"Once we got a little lead I said hey, we don't need a run-and-gun, we need possessions and time and rest," Grebe said. "We're going to have a lot of games going on in the next two days, so we needed to rest on offense.
"I don't care if we put up 35 as long as we beat them by one."