MISSOULA -- After Bigfork's harrowing 60-56 victory over Shelby for the State B boys championship, Vikings' coach Sam Tudor posed for several photographs, the last being with his parents.
"My dad (Chip Tudor) was a coach too, and some of things we pass along today I learned from him," Tudor said, nodding towards his father, whose ear-to-ear grin telegraphed how proud he was of Sam.
Western Division champion Bigfork finishes the year undefeated at 25-0, while Shelby, the Northern titlists, wind up at 21-5.
It is the Vikings second title in school history, the first coming in 2014. The Coyotes have now placed third and second the past two seasons.
"I'm just now trying to figure it out," said Tudor, when asked if he could describe his emotions of winning the championship. "I'm elated for the boys, this is a very special bunch. These were two tough teams battling, and I feel for Shelby. Every kid out there - on both sides - put it all out there on the court.
"And it's nice that my wife will finally get some time away from basketball."
As for the game, Bigfork went up 4-0 early on, before Shelby got on the scoreboard at 4-2. As the first period wound down, Vikings’ guard Anders Epperly drains a buzzer-beater from 3-point land. He is fouled on the shot, and the ensuing free throw for a 4-point play makes it 18-10 in favor of Bigfork to start the second.
In the next quarter, Viking Chase Chappius' 3-pointer makes it 22-10 for 12-point lead. Shelby’s TJ Reynolds responds moments later with a bucket to close to 22-14.
Late in the second, Bigfork post Beau Santistevan nets a lay-up, making it 28-19. Then Epperly’s free throw closes out the first half for a 30-21 Vikings’ lead.
Zach Torgerson opens the action after intermission with a Coyote bucket, closing to 30-24. Minutes later, Beau Santistevan, a 6-foot-6 senior post, makes an old-fashioned play, putting the lead to nine, 41-30.
Next Shelby rallies, and a bomb from 3-point land by Logan Leck closes out the third stanza with Bigfork in front by six, 41-35.
The final frame saw the game come down to the waning moments, when several threes from downtown by Aaron White and Logan Watson brought Shelby to within three. But free throws by Santistevan, Colton Reichenbach and Epplerly clinched the Vikings' championship.
Bigfork put three players in double figures, including Santistevan with 18 points, Epperly at 15 and Logan Gilliard’s 12. Clayton and Colton Reichenbach added five counters apiece. Santistevan grabbed a game-high nine rebounds.
TJ Reynolds scored a game high 22 points and grabbed eight boards for the coach Tom Reynolds' Coyotes, while teammate Aaaron White netted 15. Watson tallied nine markers.
Rocky Boy 80, Lodge Grass 70
Rocky Boy's senior standouts Kendall Windy Boy and Ben Iron Eyes have been "Mr. Inside and Mr. Outside" for the Northern Stars all year, and that same duo helped secure a third-place trophy for the program during the State B boys basketball tournament on Saturday.
Iron Eyes, a 6-1 guard, and Windy Boy, a 6-7 post, scored 22 and 21 points, while leading Rocky Boy to an 80-70 win over Lodge Grass in the tourney's consolation finals in Dahlberg Arena. Windy Boy also speared 29 rebounds - which has to be some kind of record - while Iron Eyes was 5 of 7 from three-point land.
North Division champion Rocky Boy finishes the year at 20-5 after the fast-paced contest, and the Southern's No. 2 Lodge Grass winds up 16-10.
"We knew that they like to run, so we wanted to slow them down, control the tempo and get the ball to our two senior leaders," related coach Adam Demontiney, who guided Rocky Boy to its' last state trophy three years ago, during his rookie season at the helm. "We needed to establish Windy Boy on the inside, in order open up our perimeter shooters.
"Kendall and Ben got things going, and then (sophomores) Wyatt Caplette and Frankie Bacon stepped up big time, also."
Rocky Boy led 14-9 after the first quarter, and were up by six late in the second, 31-25, before the Indians went on a 6-0 run to knot the score at 31-all at halftime. Ethan Dust sparked the Lodge Grass rally with four of game-high 28 points.
But then it was the Northern Stars' turn, as they opened up a commanding cushion by outscoring their counterparts 31-16 in the third period, for a 62-47 advantage heading into the fourth. Rocky Boy then held on down the stretch for the 10-point victory.
Rocky Boy outshot Lodge Grass 45-36 percent from the floor. They also held a 56-37 advantage on the boards. Dust was the Indians top rebounder with 11 boards.
The Northern Stars put four hoopsters in double figures, with Caplette and Kordell Small netting 13 and 12 points, respectively. Mylon Blacksmith was the Indians' No. 2 scorer, chipping in 20 points.
After Lodge Grass won its' opening round game over Anaconda on Thursday, coach Gordon Real Bird, Jr., stated that his team "believe we belong here," and Demontiney agreed.
"They (Lodge Grass) are a great team," the Rocky Boy skipper said.
Lodge Grass 83, Joliet 67
Four players scored in double digits, as Lodge Grass punched its' ticket to the consolation finals with an 83-67 win over Joliet in the consolation semifinals. Elijah Rogers led the way with 20 points, followed by Mylon Blacksmith's 16 counters, and Robert Pretty On Top and Ethan Dust, at 15 and 13, respectively.
Taylor Rowlison poured in a game-high 25 points for the J-Hawks, ahead of teammates Ry Olson with 19 markers, and Brett Robinson's 18. Dust and Olson shared the rebounding honors at 11 boards apiece.
The Indians will enter the third-place tilt at 5 p.m. in the Dahlberg Arena with a 16-9 record, while Joliet finishes at 14-13.
Rocky Boy 70, Colstrip 56
Rocky Boy will join Lodge Grass in the conso finals, after ending Colstrip's season with a 14-point victory.
The Northern Stars were paced by Kendall Windy Boy and Kordell Small, who tossed in 23 and 22 points. Ben Iron Eyes added 15 markers.
Joel McRae and Isaiah Williams led the Colts at 15 points apiece.
Rocky Boy improves to 19-5, while Colstrip finishes with a fine 22-3 mark.