At Deer Lodge last Wednesday, the Twin Bridges Falcons and the Arlee Warriors were finally able to play their Western C challenge game after two reschedulings on account of inclimate arctic weather more typical of the heart of winter than the cusp of spring.
The first frame was a see-saw affair that went back and forth, Arlee emerging with a one point edge entering the next period.
During the second quarter, Twin Bridges was able to exploit over rotation by Arlee defenders attempting to shut down Falcon shooters, making an extra pass to their open comrade who then connected with a twine twitching tally. By the time of intermission, the Warriors found themselves trailing by a half dozen.
Arlee made some defensive adjustments at halftime that included matchup changes to counteract gaps in coverage that the Falcons had been able to capitalize upon.
The strategy payed off dividends with the result that the Warriors cut the deficit in half to pull within a single possession entering the final frame, then flipped the script by taking over the lead, at one time extending it to a multi-possession 47-40 edge at one juncture.
Cody Tanner come off the bench to play a key roll during the final frame, scoring all ten of his points.
“(Cody) just came in there and was dialed in,” head coach Zanen Pitts said. “He’s a Tanner, and all Tanners know how to score.... you could see he had the touch after he knocked down his first shot.”
Greg Whitesell drew a lot of attention, coupled with Isaac Fisher and Lane Johnson also turning in big games, which allowed Tanner to exploit seams in the Falcon defense.
But Twin Bridges was far from finished. The Falcon would carve into the deficit, then senior Daniel Kruer would knock down a game tying trey that knotted the score at 51 apiece with five seconds remaining.
With the ball in Arlee’s hands for the final shot, Warrior Darshan Bolen would be fouled with 1.3 seconds remaining, making one of his pair of free throws to account for the margin of victory, 52-51.
Pitts commented, “Dar’s one of our best free throws shooters. ... His mechanics were perfect, and the shot was money.”
In assessing the game, Pitts said, “Our boys never quit. It’s hard to say who wanted it more, but the ball was in our hands last. ... Our guys were able to lock down at the end and able to capitalize on every possession.”
The win catapults the two-time defending champion Warriors onto the state C stage in Billings, where they will take on the Scobey Spartans in game two on Thursday, March 7, at 2 p.m.
Western C Divisional Challenge
Arlee 52, Twin Bridges 51
Isaac Fisher crested the triple century (300) point plateau for season scoring, while Lane Johnson crested the sextuple century (600) point plateau for varsity career scoring.
14C Arlee (22-2), 12C Twin Bridges (24-2)
Arlee 14 8 13 17 – 52
Twin Bridges 13 16 9 13 – 51
ARLEE – Isaac Fisher 8 0-0 16(5r,1a,1s,3b), Cody Tanner 4 1-1 10(1r,1a,1s,1b), Lane Johnson 4 2-2 10(4r,3a,2s), Greg Whitesell 3 0-0 6(5r,6a,1s,1b), Zach RunningCrane 1 1-2 3(2a), Darshan Bolen 1 1-2 3(2r,1s), Lane Schall 2(6r,1a), Billy Fisher 2(2r,1s), Levi Fullerton (1r).
TWIN BRIDGES – Bryce Nye 13(7a), Jake Hughes 13, Daniel Kruer 9, Charlie Kruer 8, Nate Konen 5, Tate Smith 3, tmTB(16r,9a,5s,1b, 20-41, 3-6, 51).
3FGs – A 1-13 (C.Tanner 1-4), TB 8-18 (Hughes 3-4, C.Kruer 2-5, Smith 1-1, Nye 1-3, D.Kruer 1-5). (W27Feb19challenge)