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Scobey's Jason Wolfe reflects on 1997 State C tournament

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Posted at 10:50 AM, Mar 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-09 18:26:16-04

GLASGOW -- Scobey boys basketball head coach Jason Wolfe is no stranger to adversity.

Now in his 18th year leading the Spartans, Wolfe has led Scobey to seven State C tournaments, winning in 2011 and placing third in 2017 and 2019. But Wolfe’s most memorable state tournament experience came as a player for Scobey back in 1997.

Scobey was fresh off winning the 1996 State C title in blowout fashion over Gardiner and was entering the 1997 State C tournament unbeaten and in search of another title. Mother Nature had other plans for the Spartans, though.

A massive snow storm nearly kept Scobey from having a chance to defend its title at all.

“My senior year was in 1997. We had a huge snow storm up here and were scheduled to play the first game of the tournament,” Wolfe recently told MTN Sports. “We got snowed in, so we actually were late. We were scheduled to go out the day before. They flew five starters down so they could be there on time for the game.”

The Spartans had initially planned to head to Billings on Wednesday, but after being held back by the blizzard they took off by bus at 5 a.m. on Thursday morning. The Spartans set out early Thursday morning behind snowplows, but it took several hours to reach Wolf Point. Private planes were then arranged to take coach Dave Selvig and the Scobey guys down to Billings.

By the time they had arrived in Billings it was nearly game time. Seeley-Swan would await the Spartans at the Metra to open the State C tournament.

“It was tough. We got into Billings on a flight, then we basically had enough time to go drop our bags off at the hotel and go to the gym, so we didn’t have a chance to prepare like we normally would,” Wolfe said.

Scobey’s short-handed team nearly pulled out a victory in the first round against the Blackhawks, but Seeley-Swan's Matt Schneiter hit a 3-pointer with less than 20 seconds left to send the game to overtime. Schneiter also made the game-winning free throw with just seconds remaining to hand Scobey its first loss of the season, 52-51, after the Spartans had won their previous 24 games.

Wolfe and the Spartans showed their resiliency, though, as they battled all the way back through loser-out action to face Seeley-Swan in the consolation game. Scobey wasn’t going to let Seeley-Swan keep it from bringing home a trophy.

With Scobey trailing in the third quarter, a pair of 3-pointers by Wolfe sparked a 13-2 Scobey run to give the Spartans a seven-point lead going into the final quarter. Wolfe had a game-high 18 points to lead Scobey to the third-place trophy over Seeley-Swan, 60-50, and gave the Spartans a win over every team it faced.

“It was tough,” Wolfe said of the state tournament. “We came out and lost in overtime that first game to Seeley-Swan. Fortunately, we were able to battle through the back door and beat them for third.”

As a player, Wolfe was part of a state championship team and a third-place team. As a coach, he’s brought home hardware on three separate occasions.

The Spartans are getting set to embark on the 523-mile trip to Missoula for this weekend’s State C tournament. It appears the weather will cooperate for Wolfe and his Spartans this time around, but he has the experience to fall back on should Mother Nature fight back this weekend.

Scobey will open up the State C boys basketball tournament against Belt on Wednesday at 6 p.m.