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State B boys: Missoula Loyola, Wolf Point, Malta, Bigfork march into semis

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Posted at 10:42 AM, Mar 09, 2023

GREAT FALLS — The Southern B division went 0-4 on Thursday at the State B tournament setting up a pair of North vs. West showdowns in Friday's semifinals. Wolf Point, Missoula Loyola, Malta and Bigfork each earned wins. Columbus, Lame Deer, Red Lodge and Lodge Grass will head to the consolation bracket.

Missoula Loyola 83, Lodge Grass 56

The Missoula Loyola juggernaut wasn’t slowed in the first round of the State B tournament, topping Lodge Grass 83-56 in the first game of the day in Great Falls.

Ethan Stack finished with 31 points, six rebounds and three assists. He scored a scorching 27 of those points in the first half on 12-of-15 shooting.

Loyola (23-1) scored the first eight points of the game and pushed the lead to 17-2 before the Indians answered with five in a row. But the Rams relentless pressure forced Lodge Grass into 11 turnovers and a poor shooting morning (30.9%).

Reynolds Johnston joined Stack in double figures with 11 points. Lance Littlenest led the Indians with nine points while Chance Prettyontop and Myron Little Light each scored eight.

The Rams will move on to the State B semifinals where they will face the winner of Columbus and Wolf Point, Friday at 3:30 p.m.

Lodge Grass will try to stay alive in the consolation bracket on Friday morning.

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Wolf Point 65, Columbus 62

For the second time in four days, the Wolf Point boys hit a buzzer beating three pointer to keep their hopes of a state title alive.

On Monday, Kelby Bauer hit a long three as time expired to top Fairfield in a Northern B challenge game.

And on Thursday it was Cade Stafne who hit a triple from the corner as the clock hit zero to lift the Wolves to a 65-62 win over No. 1 seed Columbus at the State B tournament, sending their bench into a jubilant celebration.

Julian Benson led all scorers with 27 points and 11 rebounds. He had 20 points in the second half. Kelby Bauer and Kraven Silk each added 10 points. Bauer also recorded five assists and four steals.

Cash Kramer from Columbus hit a three with 9.6 seconds left to tie the game at 62. The Cougars focused their defensive energy on Benson on the final possession, but the Wolf Point senior found Stafne wide open in the corner for the game winner.

Hayden Steffenson led the Cougars with 22 points and six rebounds. Mason Meier added 17 points in the loss. Michael Curl notched seven points, 10 rebounds and five blocks.

Wolf Point, the No. 2 seed out of the North, will move on to face Missoula Loyola in the semifinals. Columbus takes on Lodge Grass in loser out action Friday morning.

The Wolf Point Wolves react after winning on a buzzer beater

Malta 68, Lame Deer 49

All five Malta starters scored in double figures and the Mustangs coasted to a 68-49 victory over Lame Deer in the first round of the State B tournament.

Stockton Oxarart led all scorers with 16 points. Bohdi Brenden had 12 points, Jared Eggebrecht and Treyton Wilke each had 11 and Eli Hanson dropped in 10 to help the winning side. Eggebrecht also had nine rebounds and Brenden had six assists.

Malta built a 40-22 halftime lead before Lame Deer rallied in the third quarter to cut the lead to eight. But Malta poured it on in the fourth, pushing their lead as high as 25 points.

Kendall Russell led Lame Deer with 14 points and 10 rebounds, Moses Sanders added 13 in defeat.

Malta will advance to the semifinals to face the winner of Bigfork and Red Lodge at 5 p.m., while Lame Deer moves to the consolation bracket.

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Malta coach David Costin.

Bigfork 55, Red Lodge 48

Bigfork topped Red Lodge 55-48 in the first round of the State B tournament, meaning the Southern B division went 0-4 on Thursday.

The Vikings outlasted a game Rams squad that was making its first appearance at state since 1985. Bigfork on the other hand, won back to back titles in 2018 and 2019 and are consistently one of the top Class B teams each year.

Bigfork was led by Nick Walker with 14 points and seven rebounds. Bryce Gilliard added 10 points and the Vikings shot 24-for-50 from the floor (48%).

Meanwhile Red Lodge, the No. 2-seed out of the South, was led by Thomas Buchanan with 14 points and nine rebounds, Walker Boos and Owen Reynolds each scored 11 points.

The game featured 11 lead changes, nine ties and was tight until late in the fourth quarter when the Vikings built a nine point lead, which proved enough of a cushion to hang on form the win.

Bigfork will face Northern B champion Malta in the semifinals, Friday at 5 p.m.

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Bigfork's Isak Epperly (3) converts a layup against Red Lodge.