WORDEN - Colstrip sophomore Caleb Cole couldn't wait for Tuesday night's game against Huntley Project.
After the Colts fell to the Red Devils in overtime, 52-50, at home on Jan. 15, Cole had one thing on his mind: revenge. He got that Tuesday, as his game-tying 3-pointer with 17.2 seconds left forced overtime, where he made Colstrip's only field goal to give the District 3B-leading Colts a 55-53 road victory over Huntley Project, which leads District 4B.
"I've been so hungry for it. I've been really hungry, our team has been hungry," Cole said. "We didn't take it as a loss, we took it as a lesson and moved on from it."
In a game that was back and forth throughout, Project began to grab separation between the third and fourth quarters. A 43-40 Red Devils lead after three quarters grew to 49-42 with 3:24 to play after Noah Bouchard hammered home a one-handed jam, but Colstrip kept with its game plan.
Trailing 51-48, a wild sequence ensued. Project milked nearly a minute off the clock before turning the ball over. In transition, Colstrip's Logan Vocu threw an errant pass giving the ball back to the Red Devils. Project, though, turned it right back over, leading to Cole's pull-up 3-pointer to tie the game.
"I got nothing to lose, you know?" Cole said of his game-tying shot. "Honestly, our team is out here working every day. We practice and push each other, push ourselves to be the best."
Colstrip then took almost a full two minutes off the clock in the overtime period before Cole's basket gave the Colts the lead for good. A pair of free throws from Kyler Burton gave Colstrip a four-point lead with less than 15 seconds to play. Bouchard made it a two-point game, but the Colts were able to run the remaining time off the clock without having to inbound the ball.
There were lulls in the game where Colstrip struggled to score, but the Colts deployed relentless ball pressure with their 1-3-1 and 1-2-2 trapping defenses that kept them in the game. Colstrip closed the game on a 13-4 spurt.
The two sides traded baskets in the first half, with Colstrip building a six-point advantage, 27-21, just before halftime. Project came roaring back to tie it at 29 at the break and carried that momentum into the third quarter to grab a 43-40 advantage. Project's biggest lead of the game was seven.
Cole had a team-high 23 points to lead Colstrip. Bouchard led all scorers with 28 points and also ripped down 11 rebounds.
"This brings us a lot of confidence. We're a young team, only two or three seniors on the team," Cole said.
Colstrip will play Lame Deer on Thursday, while Huntley Project is slated to face Shepherd the same night, though that game is up in the air after Shepherd's Tuesday games with Roundup were canceled due to COVID-19.