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The Heart Butte Warriors basketball team had a tough loss in their opening game at the Northern C Divisional Tournament in Great Falls last week, coming in just three points short on a 58-55 score. And while that put them into the loser-out bracket, they came back with a 70-39 romp over Sunburst on Friday, followed by an 83-59 win over Big Sandy. Looking at Chester-Joplin-Inverness in the next to last game, they held their opponents to single digits in two periods to post a 75-49 victory.

Their last game was against Winnett/Grass Range, and things looked good for the Warriors after the first half found them in front by seven points. A slow third quarter, however, allowed WGR to eek out a 55-51 win for third place, edging Heart Butte out of state competition this year.

“We finished in the top 16 out of 84 Class C teams again,” Coach Kellen Hall said. “One key element this team lacked was experience with only three guys having been in this District and Divisional tourney atmosphere. Knowing that, I believe we faced the challenge pretty good.”

Heart Butte and Chinook were tied at 34 points when halftime came, but Chinook was able to score just enough more than the Warriors to edge them out. Riley Reevis was a leader throughout the tournament, scoring 24 against Chinook in the first game. Frankie Calf Boss Ribs scored nine, Joe Murray eight, Thomas Young Running Crane and Marcus Rutherford five, and Jude Reevis with four points.

Heart Butte had little difficulty with Sunburst, outscoring them by 17 at halftime and adding to the margin by game’s end. Frankie Calf Boss Ribs led with 13 points, followed by Riley Reevis with 12, Thomas Young Running Crane and Joe Murray 11, Marcus Rutherford seven, and Casey DeRoche and Vincent Berthelson with two points.

Big Sandy put up a stronger fight, but still came up nine points short at halftime and 24 short when the final buzzer sounded. Riley Reevis was the leader with 21 points, followed by Thomas Young Running Crane with 20, Joe Murray 14, Marcus Rutherford 12, Jude Reevis six and Casey DeRoche with a point.

It was more or less the same story against CJI with the Warriors holding them to single digits in two quarters. Riley Reevis led with 25 points, followed by Joe Murray with 13, Frankie Calf Boss Ribs 11, Marcus Rutherford nine, Jude Reevis six, Forrest Calf Boss Ribs four, Thomas Young Running Crane three, and Casey DeRoche and Vincent Berthelson with two points.

Heart Butte had a great start against Winnett-Grass Range, gaining three and four points in the first and second quarters. But a slow third period was followed by a fourth quarter in which the Warriors were unable to overtake their opponents. Joe Murray led with 19 points, followed by Riley Reevis with 12, Marcus Rutherford nine, Thomas Young Running Crane five, Jude Reevis four and Frankie Calf Boss Ribs with two points.

“For a rebuild year - for the fifth year out of six that I’ve been in Heart Butte is not bad,” Coach Hall said. “I know our rebuild years are different than most, but it takes a while for a kid to learn the system and this team gained much knowledge all season. One major thing I’m super proud of is this team had a few guys that were counted out by other adults in other places and we gave them a second chance. When it comes to life, opportunity is so important, and these guys made the most of their second chance opportunity.

“I’m proud of these young gentlemen for what they accomplished because their off-season hard work paid off. I want them to know that with opportunity some want it to happen, some wish it to happen, and others make it happen, so make the best of your opportunities like you did so this year.”

With the 2021-22 season at a close, Coach Hall is saying farewell to three seniors.

“I’ve only ever coached three kids for all four years of their high school career, and I just gained a fourth in Marcus,” Coach Hall said. “Farewell to a trio of dynamic Seniors - Marcus Rutherford, Joe Murray and Frankie CalfBossRibs! Three great leaders, three great ball players, three ultimate Warriors! Thanks to all the players on their sacrifices! Way to bring your Piikuni people together and give them some-thing to be prideful about.”

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