Bound and determined
The Vikings defeat the Savage Heat 62-43 in the District 14-C challenge game to earn a spot at the Western C Divisional Tournament for the first time since 2006
The large crowd from Saturday that had filled the upper bleachers at the Ronan Event Center had dwindled down to a couple hundred and no longer drowned out the sounds of the game, but the Vikings made sure to silence any of the echoes of their past frustrations at the district tournament.
The Vikings showed no let down after a 50-47 championship-game loss to Arlee Saturday and controlled Hot Springs – the team that ended their season last year – from the onset, cruising to a 62-43 victory in the District 14-C challenge game Monday night.
With their third victory over the Savage Heat this season the Vikings will advance to the Western C Divisional Tournament for the first time since 2006. The Vikings were the second seed at that tournament, after losing to Alberton 38-37 in the District 13/14-C Tournament championship game.
“It’s big for these guys because they worked hard. They worked hard and they remember the feeling when we went into the locker room and we couldn’t send Sharbono and Hoyt to divisionals,” Charlo coach Mike Brown said. “So we were bound and determined not to go through that again with this group of seniors.”
Viking guard Chance Firestone, one of four senior starters, can still remember how he felt after ending the season with a 54-51 overtime loss to Hot Springs at the district tournament last year.
“It gave us the motivation to get there this year. We wanted to get the seniors to divisionals so bad just so they could get the chance to experience it and we ended up coming up short,” said Firestone, who averaged 15.3 points a game in his final district tournament. “It’s a good feeling to make it this year,” he added.
After the heartbreaking loss to the Warriors Saturday, Firestone said that the team wanted to get off to a fast start against the Savage Heat.
“We just wanted to really make sure we let Hot Springs know we were here to play,” said Firestone, who finished with 18 points and five rebounds.
With the score tied at four in the first quarter, the Vikings went on a 10-0 run in the final five minutes of the quarter and took a 14-4 lead into the second quarter. The Savage Heat opened the second quarter on a 7-0 run to cut Charlo’s lead to 14-11 with 5:36 left to play in the first half, but after a timeout a 3-pointer by Dillon Delaney, who finished with 10 points, sparked a 6-0 Vikings’ run to put an end to the Savage Heat’s only threat in the game.
“We didn’t quit. The boys didn’t quit ... In the year’s before we’d get to that point and somebody would drop their head and come back to the bench upset,” Brown said of the Savage Heat’s run. “Once I called the timeout, everyone came over and said ‘let’s just regroup, dig in and get back to work,’ I didn’t even have to say anything.”
In last year’s season-ending defeat, the Vikings only went 22-for-58 (25.5) percent from the field. Monday, the Vikings shot 40 percent from the field, connecting on 26 of their 65 shots. They also dominated the glass, outrebounding the Savage Heat 39-23.
Viking senior Chance Rosenbaum finished with 14 points and a team-high eight rebounds. He also had the job of shadowing Reiley Winebrenner, the district’s leading scorer, after Chico Stipe got in foul trouble. Rosenbaum held Winebrenner to only 10 points, with four of them coming in the fourth quarter when the game was out of reach.
“It was Chance Rosenbaum,” Brown said, when asked how the Vikings stopped Winebrenner. “I looked at Chance and said are you up for the challenge and he said ‘I can stop him’ and he told me he didn’t want to come out until Reiley came out ... I mean this team’s got a lot of heart and we are just now starting to get the game to go along with it.”
In the championship game against the Warriors, a team that had defeated the Vikings three times earlier in the season, the Vikings took a 37-26 lead on a 3-pointer by Firestone at 1:26 in the third quarter, but the Warriors ended the quarter on an 8-0 run and only went into the final quarter only trailing 37-34.
Warrior guard Kasey Bridgewater tied the game with a 3-pointer on Arlee’s opening possession and the Warriors went on to win 50-47.
Rosenbaum and Delaney led the Vikings with nine points apiece.
Firestone finished with eight points before fouling out with about a minute to play and the Vikings trailing 45-43. Warrior guard Jesse Pfau hit both his free throws to put the Warriors up 47-43. On the Vikings’ next possession Garrett Herron hit a 3-pointer to pull the Vikings within one, but that’s as close as the Vikings would get.
The Vikings didn’t dwell on the loss, instead they shifted their focus on Hot Springs.
“I think the boys thought that in the Arlee game that we should of won it, so we didn’t look at it as losing, we looked at it as just running out of time,” Brown said. “I told them ‘this game here, let’s not let the clock be a factor let’s go win it ... And they played hard. I’m proud of them.”
The Vikings shot 56 percent in a 69-40 thrashing of Noxon in the semifinals Friday night. The Red Devils beat the Vikings in the semifinals last year and had beaten them in their first meeting this season.
In the best game of his career, Firestone finished with 20 points in 21 minutes. Stipe and Rosenbaum each finished with 15 points. Houston Blevins added eight and Chance Frame finished with six.
The Vikings will play Sheridan to open the divisional tournament. The game will start at 5 p.m. Thursday at the Maroon Activities Center in Butte.
Charlo 69, Noxon 40
Charlo 18 13 29 9–69
Noxon 7 9 7 17–40
CHARLO - Chance Firestone 20, Chico Stipe 15, Chance Rosenbaum 15, Houston Blevins 8, Chance Frame 6, Dillon Delaney 3, Garrett Herron 2.
NOXON - Banks Stocking 13, Jordan Eichert 11, Tyrell Wilkinson 6, Travis Tammaro 4 B. Piazzola 4, Jesse Linderman 2.
Arlee 50, Charlo 47
Charlo 8 13 16 10–47
Arlee 11 13 10 16–50
CHARLO - Chance Rosenbaum 9, Dillon Delaney 9, Chance Firestone 8, Chico Stipe 7, Chance Frame 6, Houston Blevins 5, Garrett Herron 3.
ARLEE - Kyle Felsman 15, Jesse Pfau 12, John Sansavere 10, Trae Burland 6, Kody Morigeau 4, Kasey Bridgewater 3.
Charlo 62, Hot Springs 43
Hot Springs 4 12 15 12–43
Charlo 14 11 20 17–62
HOT SPRINGS - Cody Hoff 12, Reiley Winebrenner 10, Trevor Bras 3, Tylor Fisher 1, Michael Brooks 9, Zack Malinak 7.
CHARLO - Chance Firestone 18, Chance Rosenbaum 14, Houston Blevins 7, Chico Stipe 6, Chance Frame 4, Dillon Delaney 10, Garrett Herron 3.