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Pirates lose double-overtime heartbreaker to Broncs

POLSON — The Polson Pirates had their hand on the door knob and the door was almost closed, but the Hamilton Broncs jammed a big old hoof in the opening and kicked it back open by winning a double-overtime thriller 90-88.

Polson had a 13-point lead early in the fourth quarter and looked to cruise to a comfortable win over Hamilton last Friday night in Linderman Gym. After a quiet first half, Pirate guard Kyle Bagnell was hitting lights out and on his way to a career-best 39 points. Teammate Vince DiGiallonardo was hitting early, putting up 22 points from his point guard position.

But, suddenly, Tyler Pigman led his Bronc teammates to a huge comeback down the stretch, including a bucket underneath on an inbound play at the buzzer to tie the game 77-77 and force the first overtime.

Both teams managed five points apiece in the first overtime, then six apiece in the second overtime until Hamilton's Jeff Embree scored on a layup in the final seconds to give the Broncs the 90-88 win. 

It was a game of two halves for Polson, with the Pirates jumping out to a 39-26 lead at the half on the heels of some great outside shooting. Polson hit nine threes over the first 16 minutes, led by DiGiallonardo with five of them and two apiece from Cody Fisher and Zach Camel. 

"We shot the ball really well in the first half. They sat in a zone and thought they'd focus on Kyle (Bagnell) and pretty much let everyone else shoot," Polson head coach Brad Pluff explained. "Eventually they had to go man and that's when Kyle got most of his points in the second half."

Bagnell shot 12-for-28 from the floor, including three treys, and hit 13 of 20 free throws. 

Polson shot well and got plenty of opportunities on the offensive end. But the Pirates' defense was porous and that will be the focus of practice this week as they get ready for the final three weeks of the regular season. 

"We gave up 30 in the fourth ... that's definitely a concern," Pluff emphasized. "On Monday we'll just get back to the basics on defense and try to figure out where we're at. Unfortunately we've got Columbia Falls coming up (Friday) so we don't have much time. But, we know we've got a problem and, hopefully, we'll fix it."

It didn't help that Polson played without guard Tim Rausch, who was on another baseball trip. But the Pirates have been missing even more experience with Louis Mohr and Sheldon Fisher out for weeks, who will return this week. 

"We're playing a lot of young kids ... they played as well as I thought we could ask them, but they're having to notch it up pretty high. Having Louis Mohr and Sheldon Fisher back this week will help," Pluff said. "They are both juniors and would have played a bunch of minutes had they been available. Depth-wise we're going to be in way better shape from here on out. The biggest concern is we've lost the last four out of five games. Team chemistry is a concern, but shaking up the lineup might help, so adding Louis and Sheldon should help shake things up a bit."

On Saturday night, perhaps predictably, the Pirates were flat and fell to Stevensville 63-39. Polson's offense struggled, but its defense struggled even more to get out on Josh Schultz, who drilled long-range jumpers to the tune of 29 points.

Stevensville was up 15-7 after the end of the first quarter and ran away with the lead against a tired, short-handed Polson squad. Rausch was still gone, post Tyler Krell picked up two quick fouls and sat most of the first half, and Polson lost Fischer in the second quarter with a sprained ankle.

"It is tough playing back to back games and the early game after a tough loss. It's tough to rebound from that," coach Pluff said. "I was afraid that would happen to us, especially with Cody (Fischer) getting hurt early. Kyle didn't get a lot of rest and it just zapped him. They had some spurts early and that really hurt. We just ran out of gas."

DiGiallonardo had 11 points and Bagnell finished with 10 to lead the Pirates scoring. Polson's weary legs showed on defense, too.

"We lost track of the Schultz kid. That could be part of our defensive issues we have ... but he's just a good shooter, too. He's a good solid player and they did a good job of getting him open. He only missed one field goal, 10-for-11. That's unheard of for a high school guard," Pluff noted.

Now the Polson boys will try to regroup, refocus and rejuvenate. 

After four solid days of practice, the Pirates will hope to rebound on Friday night, but it won't be easy. They'll be on the road playing against the top-ranked team in the state as the Pirates try to upset the Columbia Falls Wildcats on their home floor.

"It should be a good game," coach Pluff offered.

Summary

Hamilton 90, Polson 88, 2OT
Hamilton 10 16 20 31 5 8–90
Polson 12 27 18 20 5 6–88

HAMILTON - Zach Stoeger 11, Brad Palin 11, Cody Lewis 5, Jeremy Powell 2, Beau Maus 13, Graham Silcher 16, Tyler Pigman 22, Jeff Embree 10.
POLSON - Vince DiGiallonardo 22, Kyle Bagnell 39, Ian Laimbeer 2, Zach Camel 10, Cody Fischer 6, Will Davey 2, Derrick Rathe 3, Tyler Krell 4.

Stevensville 63, Polson 39
Stevi 15 19 19 10–63
Polson 7 14 10 8–39

STEVI - Brenden Jones 3, Austin Keling 6, Josh Haynes 2, Josh Shultz 29, Caleb Vance 8, Tyler Gavlak 11, Price Miller 4.
POLSON - Vince DiGiallonardo 11, Kyle Bagnell 10, Zach Camel 3, Cody Fischer 4, Will Davey 3, Derrick Rathe 2, Tyler Krell 6.

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