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State C boys: Manhattan Christian, Box Elder to meet for title on Saturday

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Posted at 8:41 PM, Mar 07, 2024

GREAT FALLS — In the Class C boys semifinals, Manhattan Christian topped Lustre Christian 48-42 to punch its ticket to Saturday's State C title game. In the nightcap, Box Elder beat Harlowton-Ryegate 69-43 to set up a matchup with the Eagles on Saturday at 6 p.m. in Great Falls.

Manhattan Christian 48, Lustre Christian 42

The Manhattan Christian boys will play for their third staright State C championship on Saturday, after a hard fought 48-42 win over Lustre Christian in the semifinals.

Eastern division champion Lustre, playing in just their second ever state tournament, scored led 20-16 after the first quarter behind eight points from Cayden Klatt. But the Manhattan Christian defense showed up in the second, holding the Lions scorless in the frame on the way to a 24-20 halftime lead.

“I think (Lustre) was quicker and more athletic than we've seen,” said Manhattan Christian head coach Layne Glaus. “So they got some easy ones against our press. And then we sat back in our halfcourt defense and our guys were disciplined, made them take tough shots and did a good job rebounding.”

Lustre bouced bounced back in the third quarter, outscoring the Eagles 13-10 and trailed just 34-33 entering the fourth. The teams battled back and forth for the first four minutes of the final frame, with Lustre going on top 42-41. But then the Eagles defense stepped up and closed on a 7-0 run to secure the win.

“For us to be good as a team, you got to love each other,” Glaus said. “If we have a group of guys that care about each other and they have each other's back, it's much easier to go through adversity at the end of the game.”

Mason Venema, Manhattan Christian’s lone senior, led all scorers with 15 points and 10 rebounds in the win. Isaac Hoekema added 10 points, while Christian Triemstra recorded nine points and nine rebounds.

Cayden Klatt led the Lions with 11 points, while Johnslee Pierre contributed 10 points and seven rebounds but shot just 5-of-12 from the field a day after scoring a tournament high 30 points in the first round.

“The Lustre kids work extremely hard. So a lot of credit to those guys. And the ball could have bounced either way,” Glaus said. “And yeah, we came out with it. “We had some guys make some huge plays. Isaac and Mason both made big plays down the stretch. Jack (Scott) took a huge charge for us late in the game, which kind of changed the momentum. But overall, I'd say it was a gritty team defensive effort and that got the job done and we got down a couple of times and then strung together some stops.”

Now the Eagles will try to secure a three-peat on Saturday, a feat that hasn’t been done by a boys high school team in Montana since Great Falls CMR did it in 2002.

“And I think it speaks to our team values, our biblical values. And we think those are the foundation of our program. And they're more important than the wins and losses,” Glaus said. “But it's awesome to know that that a group of kids are willing to work their butts off and they're willing to serve each other, and they're willing to have the humility to listen to their coaches and all that time and effort that they put in. You know, it's fun to watch them see that success.”

Manhattan Christian will face Box Elder for a State C title on Saturday. Lustre Christian will face Plentywood in the consolation bracket on Friday at 3 p.m.

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Manhattan Christian pulled out a thrilling 48-42 win over Lustre Christian in the State C semifinals.

Box Elder 69, Harlowton-Ryegate 43

When Box Elder assistant Brandon The Boy exited the locker room after the Bears 69-43 win in the State C semifinals, he turned back to head coach Jeremy MacDonald and said:

“Welcome back, coach. This is what you do.”

MacDonald has the Bears back in the title game for the first time since The Boy was a senior in 2016. And this run is perhaps the Bears most impressive yet.

Box Elder, undefeated on the year, took control of the game in the first quarter going on top 16-8 in the opening frame. Tracen Jilot once again led Box Elder with 21 points, five rebounds and five assists and two steals. Matthias Blackbird added 16 points, including 11 in the second half. Dreyden Anderson and Tuarie Stiffarm-Rosette each scored 11 points.

“You know, that group of juniors, any one of them can get to double digits,” MacDonald said “Obviously Tracen is our main scorer. Tuarie, he's an all stater. But those other four boys, they can they can step up and have big nights, too. Hopefully they got one more in them.”

Kenyan Davis led the Engineers with 17 points and seven rebounds in the loss. Angus Glennie added 14 points and six boards. But Harlowton shot just 30.4% from the floor and had trouble handling the Bears full court pressure, as many teams have.

“Harlowton has a great group of kids, hard workers. They were in the state semis in football and basketball,” MacDonald said. “So that's a special group of young men over there. I'm glad, though, that we got it done tonight.”

Now the Bears turn their attention to the two-time defending champions from Manhattan Christian. The teams will have a day off on Friday, before competing for a title on Saturday at 6 p.m.

“We got a huge task ahead of us. We’ve got the two time defending state champions,” MacDonald said, “We're going to have to play an A-plus basketball game to beat them on Saturday.”

But MacDonald has confidence in his team, which plays unselfish basketball and seems to be peaking at the right time.

“A big part of our program is making other guys better and you do that by playing the game unselfishly. Team basketball is a beautiful thing. I love ball movement and they trust each other,” MacDonald said. “They're moving well without the ball right now. These boys have been playing together ever since they was little fellas. And you could tell that the chemistry is great.”

Harlowton-Ryegate will face Winnett-Grass Range in loser out action on Friday at 4:30 p.m.

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Box Elder rolled to a 69-43 win over Harlowton-Ryegate in the State C semifinals.

Loser out scores

Winnett-Grass Range 47, Melstone 28
Plentywood 63, Harrison 59