The Cut Bank boys basketball team went 2-1 at the 1B District Tournament at Willie DeGroot Gym last weekend and will be the district’s No. 2 seed at the divisional tournament next month at Shelby.
The Wolves were the No. 3 seed going into the tournament. They opened with a 57-38 win over Choteau, then edged Rocky Boy 62-61 in the semifinals — in one of the tournament’s best finishes — before falling to district champ Fairfield, 80-43, Saturday night.
The semifinal matchup against the Northern Stars on Friday turned out to be a highlight of the season for the Wolves.
Trailing 61-60, Jaydas Running Wolf inbounded the ball to Chevy Burdeau, who returned the pass to Running Wolf. The sophomore guard headed toward the basket with time running out and made a pretty bounce pass to Peyton St. Goddard under the basket. St. Goddard banked in the winning shot with 2.4 seconds left, sending the hometown crowd and bench into a frenzy.
Rocky Boy’s Joe Standing Rock got off a half-court prayer before the buzzer that hit the rim and bounced up and away from the basket.
Head coach Jordan Running Wolf said the plan on the game-winning play was to draw the defense out with the guards spread out and let Jaydas drive for a final shot since he’s among the team’s best free throw shooters.
“Once Jaydas gets the ball, we’re just sending him to the basket to either get a good look at the rim or draw the foul. … As he drives, Peyton’s man helps in the lane and gives Peyton the angle he needs to get a seal and only God knows how Jaydas saw that hole between three defenders and made a terrific bounce pass. Peyton made the most important basket of the season and probably of his high school career. I couldn’t be more happy and proud of this team after some of the struggles both internal and external they’ve overcome.”
Cut Bank held the lead through most of the first half, though the Wolves never led by more than five points the entire game. They were up 30-28 at halftime.
Tate Monroe connected on two 3-pointers late in the game to keep the Wolves in it. Monroe made three of five attempts from beyond the arc and finished with a team-high 22 points. He also grabbed seven rebounds.
St. Goddard finished with 14 points and eight rebounds, while Running Wolf scored 10 points to go with three assists. Damien Burke had seven points and seven rebounds. Burdeau finished with five points and six rebounds, and senior Preston Bird returned to the court after several weeks off due to a concussion and scored four points.
Cut Bank senior Jackson Black sat out the game after suffering a severe ankle sprain the night before against Choteau.
“Preston getting medically released on Tuesday prior to the tournament was a big boost for us,” Coach Running Wolf said. “I think he’s been out of any physical contact and even as far as running in practice he’s had zero involvement for 23 days. In that time we put in a new offense and the schemes that he hasn’t been exposed to. … Defensively, he’s got a high motor and we’re going to need that heading into divisionals.”
Fairfield 80, Cut Bank 43
The Eagles came out firing from the opening tip and blew out the hometown Wolves to seize the district title.
Three Fairfield players — Brian Ward, Cooper Christiansen and Cole Neal — combined to make five 3-pointers in the first quarter alone as the Eagles jumped out to a 16-0 lead.
Tate Monroe made a break-away layup with 3:35 left in the first period to put the Wolves on the board, down 16-2.
The Eagles shot 57% from the field in the first half and 49% overall. They made nine of 16 3-point attempts (56%). The Wolves shot 28% from the field and made seven of 13 free throws. Cut Bank made five of 20 3-point attempts.
Damien Burke led the Wolves with 11 points. Peyton St. Goddard finished with eight points. Monroe and Jaydas Running Wolf scored seven points each.
Fairfield outrebounded Cut Bank 45-31.
“Fairfield played the perfect game, in my opinion,” head coach Jordan Running Wolf said. “They shot close to 60% for the night. Seems like everything that they threw up went in or they managed to get an offensive rebound out of it. … It’s been a great number of years since Cut Bank was in the (district) championship game. Now we have a couple of weeks to regroup and get healthy.”
Cut Bank will be the No. 2 seed from 1B during the divisional tournament March 2-4 at Shelby. The Coyotes will be the No. 4 seed after losing to Rocky Boy, 56-50, in the third-place game Saturday.
Cut Bank senior Jackson Black, who injured an ankle Thursday, came into the game in the final seconds Saturday night.
“At the end of the game I wanted to honor Jackson’s senior season by letting him go out and get up and down the floor one last time,” Coach Running Wolf said. “He’s meant so much to the team and he’s a big part of our success and I wanted to do right by him in that sense.”
The coach said he expects to have Black back on the court for divisionals. Cut Bank opens the divisional tournament against Poplar, the No. 3 seed from 2B, at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, March 2 at Shelby.
“(Poplar) can shoot the ball, and they play hard,” Coach Running Wolf said. “We’re just looking to go compete and give ourselves the best opportunity to win. We’re going to be diving into a lot of tape in the next two weeks.”
Cut Bank 57, Choteau 38
Tate Monroe and Jaydas Running Wolf each connected on a pair of 3-pointers in the first period as the Wolves jumped out early in their opening-round game against the Bulldogs. Other than a short stint in the game’s first minutes, Cut Bank led the entire game.
Monroe hit five of 10 3-pointers and finished with 22 points. Running Wolf made three of six 3-pointers and added 19 points. Damien Burke scored seven points to go with a team-high eight rebounds. Peyton St. Goddard pulled down seven rebounds in the win.
Choteau’s Dax Yeager led all players with 24 points. He also had a team-high eight rebounds.
District 1B boys tournament
Feb. 16-18 at Cut Bank
Shelby 74, Conrad 36
Cut Bank 57, Choteau 38
Semifinal: Fairfield 59, Shelby 45
Semifinal: Cut Bank 62, Rocky Boy 61
Loser out: Shelby 63, Choteau 45
Loser out: Rocky Boy 66, Conrad 51
Third place: Rocky Boy 56, Shelby 50
Championship: Fairfield 80, Cut Bank 43
Northern B Boys Divisional
March 2-4 at Shelby
Thursday, March 2
Fairfield vs. Glasgow, 1 p.m.
Malta vs. Rocky Boy, 2:30 p.m.
Cut Bank vs. Poplar, 6:30 p.m.
Wolf Point vs. Shelby, 8 p.m.
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