RONAN – The boys semifinals at the Western B tournament looked like great match-ups. Then they became epic.
Bigfork survived in double overtime against Anaconda, 58-57. Then Missoula Loyola ran away late from rival Florence, 53-45. Now the Vikings and the Rams will meet in the championship Saturday night.
The first semifinal featured the undefeated Vikings, and the defending divisional champion Copperheads. Bigfork has not lost all season, but they had their hands full.
Anaconda used a big second quarter to take a 26-18 lead. Bigfork came back to tie the game at 41 entering the fourth. Then the two teams traded buckets back and forth. Copperheads star Braxton Hill hit a three-pointer late to tie the game 50-50, sending the game to a first overtime.
Anaconda held the late lead this time, but Bigfork guard Anders Epperly hit a driving layup through traffic with three seconds left to tie the game again at 56. And the Vikings and Copperheads went to a second overtime.
Neither team did much offensively in the final OT. Epperly scored a layup to put Bigfork up 2. Anaconda hit one of two free throws late to climb within one. In the final seconds, Anaconda inbounded the ball under their own basket. Trent Mikalatos came open for a brief moment in the lane, but his shot was blocked by Beau Santisteven, and time ran out as Bigfork raced the ball to the other end of the court.
Logan Gilliard led the Vikings with 21 points. Hill paced the Copperheads with 24.
The second semifinal didn’t last as long, but two rivals still provided plenty of drama. Florence and Loyola had split the two regular season match-ups.
The Falcons started with a great first half, building a 29-21 lead by the end of the second quarter. But Loyola had erased the deficit by the end of the third, taking a 36-35 lead.
Florence did hold a lead with over two minutes to go, but Loyola’s Jacob Hollenback hit a three-pointer to tie the game. And Joey McElroy gave the Rams the lead shortly after that. Loyola pulled away to make the final margin bigger than the game felt.
McElroy led the Rams with 15. Marcus Zeiler of Florence scored a game high 24.
Bigfork and Loyola will tipoff in the championship at 6:30 Saturday night.
In earlier loser-out games, Thompson Falls crushed Troy 68-29. Deer Lodge took out Eureka 55-41. Deer Lodge will now meet Florence, and Anaconda will face Thompson Falls in loser-out games both starting at 9:00 AM Saturday.