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After trading the lead twice in the early going in Dahlberg Arena, and trailing 6-5, the Northern Stars went on a 14-0 run, to take a 17-6 first quarter advantage, and a 19-6, 13-point bulge early in the second. The rest of the way saw the Wolves hold a slight edge, 50-48, but Rocky Boy's early performance held up.

The Northern Stars improve to 18-4 on the year, and will meet Western champ Bigfork in Friday's 6:30 p.m. semifinals. Three Forks, which slips to 20-5, takes on Joliet in an elimination bout at 12 p.m.

"Solid defense, get the ball out running (on fast breaks) and get it to the big guy (Windy Boy) on the other end," related Rocky Boy coach Adam Dimontenay, describing his club's keys to success. "Three Forks worked the ball good, so we had to keep from over rotating, and contest every shot. And Windy Boy's five blocks inside were a factor.

"Kordell (Small) had great game, and one of our reserves, Frankie Bacon, came through for us. But just an overall good performance by everyone."

The Wolves closed the gap to four points, 26-22 at halftime, but it was as close as they'd get. In the high-scoring third, The Northern Stars surged back ahead by 10, and were up 50-40 heading in to the final frame.

Four players reached double figures for Rocky Boy, led by Kordell's 18 points, followed by Ben Iron Eyes with 15, Windy Boy's 14, and Bacon at 12. Windy Boy had a double-double with 14 rebounds.

The Wolves' Michaiah Hauser poured in a game-high 24 points. Colter Miller also shined for coach Terry Hauser's TF hoopsters, posting his own double-double, at 11 points and 14 boards. Teammate Corey Yecny was next with six counters.

Shelby 51, Colstrip 45

Northern Division champion Shelby overcame a 15-point deficit to outlast Colstrip, No. 3 from the South, 51-45. The Coyotes were led by Aaron White and TJ Reynolds, who fired in 19 and 18 points, respectively.

Shelby improves to 23-6, while the Colstrip slips to 21-2, after only its' second loss of the year.

The Coyotes will meet Lodge Grass in Friday's late semi's at 8 p.m. Colstrip will tangle with Anaconda in an elimination contest at 1:30.  

The Colts led 13-10 after the first quarter, and built their cushion to 27-12 midway through the second period. But then the Coyotes started clawing their way back in the game, closing the gap to 27-18 at halftime, and 38-37 by the end of the third.

Logan Watson's bomb from 3-point land early in the final frame gave Shelby a 42-40 edge and a big spark, followed by White's lay-up at 54 seconds left to go on top 47-44 for what turned out to be the deciding points.

"That's why we call him 'Hollywood,'" grinned Coyotes coach Tom Reynolds, referring Watson's clutch trey. "You know, these guys have been in a lot of battles, and they never give. At halftime we said to ourselves, OK, we got the nerves out. Now let's just keep believing in ourselves."

The coach talked about the gritty play underneath of his son, TJ, whose double-double included game-highs of 15 rebounds and four blocked shots.

"That's been his M.O. all year, he set the school record with 21 boards in a game," the senior Reynolds recounted.

For Colstrip, under coach Joe Egan, Isaiah Williams and Joel McCrae tallied 13 and 12 points, respectively. Teammate Payton Means collected eight rebounds.

Bigfork 67, Joliet 38

During the opening game of the State B boys basketball tournament, Bigfork center Beau Santistevan baptized the tourney with a dunk, the Vikings sped out to a 32-9 first quarter lead over Joliet, and Bigfork remained undefeated after the 67-38 win.

The Western Division champion Vikings improve to 23-0, while advancing to the 6:30 p.m. semis on Friday versus Rocky Boy. Joliet, the No. 4 seed from the south, slips to 13-12, and will play Three Forks at 12 p.m. in elimination action.

Santistevan, a 6-foot-7 senior, shared the team high of 18-points with Logan Gilliard. Bigfork put four players in double figures, with Chase Chappuis and Anders Epperly next at 15 and 10 points, respectively. The J-Hawks were paced by Ry Olson's 24 points, and Taylor Rowlison at 11.

Bigfork led 42-19 at halftime, and 55-25 after three quarters.

"Every team at state is tough, and I've seen (Chase) Rowlison score 25 points in a hurry, so we maintained our intensity into the fourth quarter," answered Vikings' coach Sam Tudor, when asked the team's mindset up by 23 at halftime. "It was an overall great performance and I'm especially happy for Anders and Beau."

Tudor pointed out that Santistevan, who posted a team-high seven rebounds and a game-high three blocks, has dunked the ball "several time" this year.

"Beau is a diamond in the rough, and he's a great leader," the Vikings' skipper said. "He can play at the next level."

Coach John Nelson's J-Hawks were not without their bright spots, highlighted by Ry Olson's Alley-Oop bucket. Olson and Terin Fyke paced Joliet under the glass with eight rebounds each.  

Lodge Grass 72, Anaconda 66

In a battle of No. 2 seeds, the South's Lodge Grass outlasted Anaconda from the West by six points, despite a 34-point night Braxton Hill, the Copperhead's all-time leading scorer.

In the last game of the night which started nearly an hour late of schedule, Lodge Grass was up by 14 halfway through the fourth, before Anaconda came back to within two, on Hill's bucket to make 68-66 with 5.5 seconds left. But the Indians sank four free throws on two personal fouls and a technical to clinch the win.

Lodge Grass (15-8) will take on Shelby in the semi's, while Anaconda (18-6), last year's state runner-up, faces Colstrip in a loser-out tilt. 

The Indians led 27-20 after the first period, 40-31 at halftime, and 50-45 heading into the finale.

Mylon Blacksmith poured in 27 points for the winners, followed by Elijah Rogers and Ethan Dust, at 12 and nine points. Next after Braxton for coach Bill Hill's Copperheads was Trent Mikalotas with 16 markers.

"These guys are battle-tested, our record is not that great because we've played some good teams all year," said Indians coach Gordon Real Bird, Jr., who was a member of Lodge Grass's last state championship, in 1990. "But my players are confident, and we believe that we deserve to be here."

Curt Synness is on Twitter @curtsynness_IR and can be reached at or