The Cut Bank Wolves began the homestretch of their regular season this past weekend with games against Rocky Boy and Harlem.
Friday the Wolves welcomed the eighth ranked Rocky Boy Stars. This was a very action packed back and forth contest the whole night. Cut Bank struggled to contain Rocky Boy senior Blake Cantrell early in the first quarter. Cantrell scored 11 of the Stars’ 15 points as the Wolves trailed 12-15 after the first quarter.
Cut Bank settled in defensively in the second quarter and did a much better job rebounding the basketball and keeping Cantrell out of the lane.
“Dayne Barbie and Coalter Littrell continue to work hard on the inside. We put a huge emphasis on getting our post players involved this week and they both did a great job,” said Coach Josh Larson.
Barbie, Littrell, and Cody Racki combined for 7 offensive rebounds in the first half alone. A couple of late three-pointers by the Stars resulted in a 25-31 deficit for the Wolves at half-time.
Cut Bank continued to hang tough throughout the third quarter. Senior guard, Hayden Harrell, took on the task of slowing down Cantrell. “Hayden made the switch himself in the second half to guard their best player. He did great keeping him in front and making him take tough shots.
On the other side, Devin Gobert held one of Rocky Boy’s best players to just one point in the contest. We are starting to improve as a team defensively and I’m really proud of all of these guys,” praised Larson. Justin Crowe hit two big shots to cut the Stars’ lead to just one point heading into the fourth quarter. Cut Bank’s defense took over in the fourth quarter as their full-court press caused numerous Stars turnovers.
“We really started to force some turnovers in the fourth quarter. Littrell was all over the place and that led to some huge layups for us late,” stated Larson. Solid defense and good free throw shooting gave the Wolves a 54-52 victory.
“This is big for us. We’ve been getting closer and closer to one of these big wins and we feel that this will go a long ways in getting us over the hump,” stated Larson.
Harrell’s 25 points led the Wolves. Following him were Gobert 16, Crowe 7, Littrell 4, and Dillon Gray 2.
Saturday the Wolves rode the wind to Harlem for a non-conference game against the ninth-ranked Wildcats. Harlem’s pressure got to the Wolves early and often leading to easy baskets. Cut Bank settled in a little bit in the second quarter and kept themselves in the game, trailing 26-35 at the half.
“They punched us in the mouth early and we had a hard time getting into our offense. I thought we did a decent job of battling to keep ourselves in the game after a rough start,” commented Larson.
Any hope the Wolves had was quickly taken away by the shooting of the Wildcats in the third quarter. Harlem hit an astounding eight 3-pointers in the third quarter alone to push their lead to 69-45 at the end of the third quarter.
“They got hot. They got really, really hot and we struggled to locate any contest shooters,” said Larson.
Littrell and Barbie continued to play hard and did a great job when they got the ball down low. “It was really nice to see those two play well in the post. If we can get them going and get them the ball more consistently we will be tough to beat come tournament time,” concluded Larson.
Harlem’s fourteen 3-pointers led them to a 93-57 win. Harrell once again lead the team with 14 points. Littrell and Barbie had their best scoring nights of the year with 13 and 12 points respectively. Rounding out the scoring were Gobert 7, Dawson Vasboe 6, Crowe 4, and Gray 3.
Cut Bank has a two-game home stand this weekend as they welcome Browning and Choteau to town Friday and Saturday nights. Tip-off is slated for 8 p.m. and 5:30 p.m., respectively.