Vikings end decade-long drought at divisionals
BUTTE — The Charlo Vikings let any chance of playing at the state tournament slip through their fingers, committing 34 turnovers in a 54-35 season-ending loss to Twin Bridges. But attaining a hard-sought after goal and picking up the first Viking victory at the Western C Divisionals in more than a decade is something they will be able hold onto for a long time.
After opening the Western C Divisional Tournament at the Maroon Activities Center in Butte Thursday with a disappointing 58-47 loss to Sheridan, the Vikings rebounded by ending the Gardiner Bruins season with a 66-53 redeeming victory Friday.
“They were bound and determined not to go home that night. They didn’t want to go home. They showed the heart of a good championship-style team. We just didn’t get it done,” Charlo coach Mike Brown said.
Viking forward Chance Rosenbaum, one of four seniors on Charlo’s starting lineup, led the Vikings to their first divisional win since 1999, scoring 24 points.
“He was a beast. He was an absolute beast. I kept telling him they don’t have an answer for you, so we’re going to keep feeding you,” Brown said.
The Vikings did keep feeding Rosenbaum and all the Bruins could do was foul him. Rosenbaum went 10-for-11 at the free-throw line and was 7-for-8 at the line in the fourth.
The Vikings jumped out on the Bruins early hitting three 3-pointers in the first quarter to take a 17-1 lead. Senior guard Chance Firestone scored seven of his nine points in the one-sided quarter, hitting his second 3-pointer with just less than two minutes to play to give the Vikings a 15-1 lead. Firestone finished the scoring in the quarter with a layup after a Viking steal.
The Bruins didn’t make a field goal until the 4:35 mark in the second quarter – a 3-pointer by Devon Kennedy to make it a 26-5 game. The Bruins ended the half on a 10-2 run and went into the break only trailing 28-15.
Chico Stipe and Houston Blevins put an end to the Bruins’ threat in the third quarter. After being shut out in the first half, Stipe, the lone underclassman Charlo starter, scored eight of his 12 points in the quarter and Blevins scored six of his 11 points in the quarter. All of Blevins points came from the free-throw line. The senior went 6-for-8 at the line in the quarter. The Vikings finished 24-for-33 (73 percent) at the line.
Playing in their first divisional game since 2006, the Vikings went 11-for-21 at the line and only shot 34 percent from the field, connecting on 16 of their 48 shots, with many of their misses coming from point-blank range in a 58-47 loss to open the tournament Thursday.
“We let that one get away from us. I thought we had a better team, we just didn’t play the better game,” Brown said.
After a 3-pointer by Firestone, who finished with seven points, cut the Panthers’ lead to 37-36 with 6:36 to play, the Vikings only made 3 of their next 12 shots from the field and the Panthers ended the game on a 21-11 run. The Panthers had pushed the lead to 44-36, when Chance Frame scored two of his team-high 13 points with a put-back. Stipe cut the Panthers’ lead to 44-40 with 2:16 to play on a layup, but that was as close as the Vikings would get. The Vikings next field goal wouldn’t come until there was less than 30 seconds to play – a 3-pointer by Dillon Delaney to make it a 54-47 game. Delaney finished with six points on two 3-pointers.
On Saturday, the Vikings ran into a determined Twin Bridges team that was coming off an overtime loss to Shields Valley. With an antagonizing pressing and trapping defense the Falcons forced the Vikings to commit 34 turnovers and took them out of their game plan.
Trying to use their size-advantage on the much smaller Falcon lineup, the Vikings’ frontcourt scored all 10 of the Vikings’ first-quarter points and Charlo went into the second quarter only trailing 12-10.
In the second quarter, the Falcons started trapping the Viking guards when they crossed halfcourt, which kept the Vikings from going inside. After scoring 10 points in the first quarter, the Viking big men of Blevins, Rosenbaum and Frame only scored seven the rest of the way with Rosenbaum scoring five of them to finish with seven points. After scoring six points in the first quarter, Blevins finished with just eight points, he put back an offensive rebound at 1:15 in the third quarter to cut the Falcons’ lead to 36-26. The Falcons scored the last four points in the quarter and went into the final frame with a 14-point lead.
The Falcons’ trap forced the Viking guards outside and denied them a chance to get the ball to the big men.
“When they went to their trapping defense it forced our guards way outside and made them make a real long pass to get it inside and they were quick enough to get there and get a steal,” Brown said. “It was a smart move by their coach. I think he got me on that one.”
The pressure defense of the Falcons also kept the Viking guards off their game. The Vikings didn’t make a 3-pointer until there was less than three minutes to play, when backup Chris Incashola drained a trey to make it 53-35.
Brown said every timeout he would tell the guards to become more offensive minded and start shooting the ball.
“I just think it was one of those nights where it wasn’t there for us, but I’m proud of them because they played hard all the way until the end,” Brown said.
No Viking finished in double figures with Stipe leading the way with nine points.
The Vikings entered the season with one goal; to make it to divisionals. Through the ups and downs of the season, Brown said his seniors never loss focus of this goal
“They achieved the goal we set out for ... The senior leadership is the reason we made it. They pulled us all together as a team. I told the juniors they have big shoes to fill,” Brown said.
Sheridan 58, Charlo 47
Charlo 13 8 10 16–47
Sheridan 8 13 12 23–58
CHARLO - Chance Firestone 7, Houston Blevins 4, Colt Nagy 1, Chance Frame 13, Chico Stipe 9, Chance Rosenbaum 7, Dillon Delaney 6.
SHERIDAN - Mike Buyan 9, Levi Broklse 2, Brad Lueke 3, Kenneth Schandlemeier 3, Josh Bodda 13, Casey Crippen 19, Mark Boyd 9.
Charlo 66, Gardiner 53
Charlo 17 11 22 16–66
Gardiner 11 4 15 23–53
CHARLO - Dillon Delaney 5, Tra Ludeman 2, Chico Stipe 12, Chris Incashola 1, Chance Firestone 9, Chance Rosenbaum 24, Houston Blevins 11, Chance Frame 2.
GARDINER - Dustin Sperano 5, Ben Broadhead 16, Devon Kennedy 10, Eddie Johnson 2, Jacob Bateson 3, Michael Bent 7, Kyle Laubach 7.
Twin Bridges 54, Charlo 35
Twin Bridges 12 14 14 14–54
Charlo 10 7 9 9–35
TWIN BRIDGES - Ethan Nordquist 9, Jake Schmit 16, Robert Walsh 2, Tyler Lott 7, Cody Pierson 10, Tanner Eggers 3, Paul Peterson 1, Jacob Vial 2, Tony Degel 4.
CHARLO - Chico Stipe 9, Chance Firestone 6, Chance Rosenbaum 7, Houston Blevins 8, Chance Frame 2, Chris Incashola 3.