Upset-minded Chiefs focus on divisionals run
It sure wasn't the way they'd hoped to close out the regular season, but the Ronan Chiefs will hope to grind on it a bit, learn from it a lot, and then forget about it.
The Chiefs worked hard but couldn't stop the juggernaut Saturday night in Polson as the Pirates ran away with an 88-50 win in Linderman Gym. The Pirates didn't miss much, shooting 59 percent from the floor and putting up 55 points in the first half alone.
The Chiefs actually started well, building a 14-8 lead in the first four minutes of the game. Kevin Wroblewski scored twice early, then Jerod Tanner continued the run with a steal and a layup and a free throw before Justin Dusty Bull connected on a jumper.
But Polson kept pushing the ball inside to post Tyler Krell, who scored often and didn't miss much. When the Chiefs collapsed to help defend against Krell, the Polson shooters started reeling off jumpers.
After Ronan's 14-8 lead with four minutes to go in the first quarter, Polson rattled off 19 unanswered points. And the run was on as Polson hit for 28 more in the second quarter to take a 55-24 lead at the half.
The second half was just as frustrating for the Chiefs. Though they scored 18 in the third, Polson hit for 19 points and the Pirates cruised to the 88-50 win.
"They didn't shoot well against Columbia Falls (on Thursday night) and that worried me," Ronan head coach Steve Woll said of the Pirates. "They are the best offensive team in the conference and they took out their frustration on us, that's for sure. And when it rained it poured."
The Chiefs didn't shoot that poorly, going almost 41 percent from the floor. But a hot-shooting Polson team overshadowed Ronan's offensive effort. And when the Chiefs did get a chance to make a little run back, turnovers killed them.
"Our book says we had 17 turnovers, but it seemed like 1,700," Woll said. "Every turnover was magnified ... There were wide open people to throw it to or we'd throw it out of bounds."
Dusty Bull led Ronan with 17 points, while Tanner hit for 12 and Wroblewski netted 11.
Woll noted that his team did have 15 assists, with Tanner earning six and Lucus Black dishing out five.
Now the Chiefs will try to put the loss behind them and focus on one game at a time at divisionals.
Ronan, now 2-6 in conference and 6-12 overall, will open this weekend's Northwestern A Divisional tournament with an 8 p.m. game against Whitefish. The tournament will be hosted by Glacier High School in Kalispell.
"Hopefully, we can bounce back and get after Whitefish," Woll said. He said his team will get some work in at practice and come in with a positive approach to the tournament. "Obviously, we need to get back on the defensive end. We had a nice run of five out of six games. We just want to get back to doing what we do best and get after it."
Columbia Falls and Polson will be the teams to beat at divisionals, but neither one is unbeatable. Woll told his players he likes their position heading into the tournament.
"I told them it's about whoever handles the distractions best ... divisionals is a whole different week," Woll said. "It will be a good challenge for us, but I don't think anybody will want to play us. We're pretty dangerous and we've got nothing to lose. We get to just go in and play hard and everybody else has to play not to lose."
Polson 88, Ronan 50
Ronan 14 10 18 8–50
Polson 27 28 19 14–88
RONAN - Jerod Tanner 12, Gordon North Piegan 2, Marcus Hungerford 5, Lucus Black 1, Justin Dusty Bull 17, Kevin Wroblewski 11, Colten Cheff 2.
POLSON - Vince DiGiallonardo 12, Kyle Bagnell 21, Ian Laimbeer 4, Sheldon Fisher 11, Tim Rausch 2, Louis Mohr 14, Will Davey 2, Tyler Krell 22.