BILLINGS – Sam Leep put Manhattan Christian in control, and Caleb Bellach brought them home.
Leep scored a game-high 26 points — 20 in the first half — and Bellach scored five straight after Fairview had pulled even with the Eagles in the fourth quarter, in Manhattan Christian’s 54-48 win Thursday in a State C boys basketball opening-round game at Rimrock Auto Arena.
Fairview wasn’t intimidated by the undefeated favorites, taking a three-point lead in the second quarter. Leep caught fire shortly afterward, finishing the first half with 20 of the Eagles’ 27 points as Manhattan Christian grabbed a 27-24 lead.
The Eagles then scored the first eight points of the third — six from Leep — to take their biggest lead at 35-24. But Fairview slowly chipped away, eventually tying the game 43-43 after three Alex Schriver free throws with just less than three minutes to play.
That’s when Bellach came to life. The star senior scored on and-1 runner and converted the free throw, then followed a miss moments later to put Manhattan Christian up 48-43. The Warriors never had a shot to tie or take the lead again.
Schriver led Fairview with 19 points, while Cody Asbeck added 17 and Josh Herron chipped in 10.
Manhattan Christian, which has been the State C runner-up each of the past two years, advances to Friday’s 8 p.m. semifinal against Melstone. Fairview will play Hays-Lodgepole in a loser-out contest Friday at 2 p.m.
Melstone 87, Hays-Lodgepole 55
The Grebe family had Thursday’s state tournament opener under control from tipoff.
Melstone head coach Jason Grebe patrolled the sideline while Brody and Bryce did some of the heavy lifting on the way to an 87-55 quarterfinal win over Hays-Lodgepole. The Broncs led wire to wire and by as many as 34 in the third quarter.
Back-to-back 3s by Bryce Grebe, only an eighth grader, put the Broncs up 8-2 early and they never looked back.
— MELSTONEBRONCS (@Melstone_Broncs) March 8, 2019
Brody Grebe scored 14 points and corralled 10 rebounds in the first half as Melstone bolted to a 40-18 lead at the break. Brody would finish with 26 points and 11 rebounds while passing Mike Chavez for second place on Montana’s all-time high school scoring list, according to Jason Grebe. Brody needed only five points and took care of those early on. According to Jason Grebe, Brody now sits at 2,501 career points.
The Broncs increased their lead to 64-35 after three then cruised to the finish for a semifinal ticket. Shayden Cooke scored 19 for Melstone. Bryce Grebe and Thomas Dejaegher had 10 apiece.
Gilbert Snow led Hays-Lodgepole in scoring with 13 points followed by Kennet BlackCrow Jr. with 12.
Melstone advances to Friday’s 8 p.m. semifinal against Manhattan Christian, the State C runner-up each of the past two years. Hays-Lodgepole faces Fairview in a loser-out contest Friday at 2 p.m.