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Sunburst’s Cody Smith takes it strong to the hoop against Simms at the District 10C Tournament in Great Falls.

The Refiner boys basketball squad went 3-1 at the 10-C District Tournament in Great Falls last weekend on their way to a third place finish. The local cagers will now head to the Northern C Divisional Tournament held at the Four Seasons in Great Falls this weekend. The Refiners will open the tournament Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. against Winnett/Grass Range.

Last week at districts, the Refiners opened with the Simms Tigers and led 14-11 after the first quarter. The Refiners turned up the defense in the second stanza and took a 28-19 lead into the half. Sunburst was outscored 18-9 in the third quarter and the Tigers tied up the game at 37-37 going into the final stanza. Sunburst got back on track and hit some clutch free throws to take the 56-49 victory.  

“It was a good opportunity for us to learn how to handle tight games and push through some adversity early in the tournament, which would come in handy later,” said head coach Nate Aschim. 

Stanley Jarvis led a trio of Refiners in double figures with 14 points followed by Mike Buckley with 13 and Lane Lerum with 10. Cody Smith scored seven points, Cade Hanson chipped in six and Jaden Koon and Dylan Smylie each tallied three. 

Friday the Refiners took on Heart Butte in a semifinal battle and fell behind 13-3 after the first quarter. The Refiners settled down and scored 11 points in the second quarter but still trailed 22-14 at the half. Sunburst cut the Warrior lead to four in the third quarter before Heart Butte came storming back with a big run to close the quarter and take a 38-22 lead going into the fourth. Sunburst cut the gap to eight but would get no closer as they fell 56-47. 

“We were way too passive in the first half and that allowed Heart Butte to get settled in,” said Aschim. “We came out of the locker room decently in the third quarter, but didn’t close the quarter out well and fell too far behind to make a comeback. Credit the Warriors for getting us out of our offensive rhythm early and never really letting us get back into the game.”

Jarvis and Smylie each hit double figures with 15 and 12 points, respectively, to lead the offense. Smith added eight points, Buckley chipped in six while Koon, Cody Hanson and Lerum each tallied two. 

The loss sent the Refiners into a loser-out contest Saturday morning with Cascade and both defenses seemed to have slept in a bit as the Badgers took a 19-18 lead after the first quarter. Sunburst put together a 20-point second stanza and led 38-28 going into the half. The Refiners came out strong in the third quarter and extended their lead to 52-40 with eight minutes to play. Cascade cut the Refiner lead to four but Sunburst hit some clutch shots to hold on for the 65-61 victory. 

Smith tallied 19 points to lead the offense followed by Jarvis with 16 and Buckley with 13. Smylie put up nine points, Lerum scored four and Koon and Cody Hanson each added two points. 

The win put the Refiners in the consolation game with Power and a trip to divisionals on the line. The Refiners took a 7-6 lead after the low scoring first quarter. Buckley scored two and-ones in the second stanza to fire up the Refiners and they took a 27-11 lead into the half. Unfortunately, the momentum shifted to the Pirates as they outscored Sunburst 15-6 in the second stanza and cut the lead to 33-26 going into the fourth. Sunburst scored 18 points in the fourth quarter and avoided a Power rally to take the 51-41 victory. 

“This was a fantastic team win with a ton of different people contributing on both ends of the floor,” said Aschim. “We hit some free throws and took care of the ball to seal off a victory against a very good team. Overall, it was a fun weekend for us. Our guys showed up to every game and played their butts off. I was extremely proud of how we bounced back from a pretty disappointing loss on Friday night to really come with a lot of energy Saturday and survive. It showed a lot of character from our guys, and that makes a coach dang proud.”

The win punched the Divisional ticket for the Refiners and they will open the tournament against Winnett/Grass Range Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. 

“Any chance you get to play at the Northern C is a great experience and we hope to get down there and make some waves,” said Aschim.

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