Chiefs rally for 36-35 win over Columbia Falls; can’t slow down Hamilton

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Ronan High School boys’ basketball coach Mitchell Wassum has developed a reputation for turning his team around in the second half of the season. Last year, Wassum, whose Chiefs upset Browning and played Polson in the Montana High School Class A Northwest Championship game, will look to play with frenetic energy.

Wassum has also developed a reputation as a motivator. No one on the 2017-18 Ronan team will soon forget his infamous team meeting in Frenchtown that not only saved the season but was the catalyst towards making a run to qualify for the state tournament.

The Chiefs are blessed with the talent to be able to not only compete with any team in the Northwest A, arguably one of the most competitive conferences in all of the state of Montana, but also defeat them. Thus far, the Chiefs have had mixed results.

After Ronan fell to Hamilton 82-53, Wassum and his crew turned around and defeated his alma mater with a 36-35 victory over Columbia Falls.

Hamilton, one of the top-rated teams in early media polls, made a name for themselves on the football field. They’ve brought the brand of physicality that made them successful on the ground and translated it to the hardwood. They made the Chiefs play left-handed for the majority of the game, but they still couldn’t contain the Chiefs’ star-player Anthony Camel. Camel poured in 21 points, and the only other player on the Chiefs to score in double figures was Jacob Gatch.

The Chiefs then slugged it out with Columbia Falls and got a much needed 36-35 victory over the Katz headed into the break.

During the break, Wassum will get a chance to work further on developing his team’s depth. Wassum’s side has been traditionally 10-deep, and this year will look to be no different as Ronan prepares for the start of Northwest A Conference play.

The Northwest A is loaded with talent. From teams like Browning, who are one the top-rated teams in every basketball poll, to Polson, Libby and Columbia Falls, there is no comfortable night, but Wassum should have his club prepped for the tough road ahead headed into the break.

Ronan 36, Columbia Falls 35

Ronan (1-2,1-5), C-Falls (0-1,1-5)

C-Falls 13 9 7 6 – 35

Ronan 8 9 5 14 – 36

COLUMBIA FALLS – Drew Morgan 13, Dillon Shipp 7, Dillon Wanner 4, Sam Hovde 4, William Dyon 3, Danny Henjum 2, Logan Bechtel 2.

RONAN – Anthony Camel 21, Randy Finley 5, Zarec Couture 4, Bubba Bush 2, Leonard Burke 2, Kubba Detwiler 2. (Fr21Dec18)

Hamilton 82, Ronan 53

NWA Ronan (0-5), SWA Hamilton (5-1)

Ronan 9 7 25 12 – 53

Hamilton 19 22 20 21 – 82

RONAN – Anthony Camel 21, Jacob Gatch 12, Levi Trahan 6, Terrell Stump 6, Randy Finley 4, Bubba Bush 2, Leonard Burke 2.

HAMILTON – Tanner Goligoski 28, Carson Rostad 14, Hunter Omlid 13, Trey Searle 7, Camron Rothie 6, Drew Brackman 6, Tyler Burrows 4, Josh Dickemore 2, Austin Drake 2. (Tu18Dec18)

— John Heglie contributed to this article.

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