The Cut Bank boys basketball team split their conference matchups over the weekend to move their conference record to 2-4 on the season.
Friday the Wolves hosted the Shelby Coyotes. Cut Bank got off to a hot start behind senior guards Hayden Harrell and Devin Gobert. “It was by far our best start of the season. I was really happy with our defensive effort as well as our rebounding in the first half,” said coach Josh Larson.
The Wolves jumped out to a quick 10-2 advantage early on in the game. Shelby battled back, however, and Cut Bank held a slim 15-12 lead after one quarter. A late foul on Gobert put the star guard on the bench for the entire second quarter, but the Wolves defense held strong.
“I can’t say enough about how well Cody Racki, Coalter Littrell, and Dayne Barbie played defensively in the first half. They did a great job containing Shelby’s 6’9” Rhett Reynolds and rebounded the ball very well,” stated Larson. Shelby’s Logan Leck caught the hot hand and gave Shelby a 28-24 advantage at the half.
The tide would turn heavily in favor of the Coyotes in the third quarter as the Wolves only scored five points the entire quarter. Shelby’s stingy defense and Logan Leck’s continued hot hand caused trouble for the Wolves.
“They made some adjustments at half-time that really changed the course of the game for us. I didn’t do a very good job at all in countering those and it cost us in the third quarter,” said Larson.
Leck caught fire again in the final quarter and Reynolds finally got going and the Coyotes pulled away 70-47.
Leck finished with a game high 34 points to lead all scorers. Cut Bank was led by Harrell with 18. Rounding out the scoring for Cut Bank was Gobert 14, Dillon Gray 6, Justin Crowe 3, and Littrell, Racki, and Barbie with 2 each.
Saturday the Wolves jumped on the bus to Great Falls for a first ever meeting with the Mustangs of Great Falls Central. This was a fast-paced game from the tip as both teams were eager to push the ball up and down the floor.
Harrell and Gobert again got the team going early offensively to help the Wolves keep it close as they trailed 16-18 after one quarter. Cut Bank’s defense settled in and they were able to get a few easy buckets in transition in the second quarter to hold a narrow 33-31 lead at the half.
Defense was the key in the third quarter as Harrell and Dawson Vasboe each grabbed two steals that led to Cut Bank points. Harrell did a great job at the point guard position and tallied 14 points in the third quarter alone to push the Cut Bank lead to 48-40 heading into the last quarter.
The Mustangs would not go away, however, and continued to battle. “They have some very solid kids. They are big, strong, and very athletic,” stated Larson. Cut Bank had an answer for each Mustang run and made their free throws down the stretch to win 61-55.
“I’m proud of these kids. It’s always nice to win, but it’s really nice to win and grind out a close game. I really get the feeling we are close to getting over the hump,” concluded Larson.
Harrell had a career-high 36 points. Following him were Gobert 21, Crowe 3, and Racki 1.
The Wolves get two home games this weekend as they host Fairfield and Conrad. Tip-off is 8 p.m. on Friday and 5:30 p.m. on Saturday.