The Mission Bulldogs withstood a late 3-point barrage from the Thompson Falls Bluehawks to snare their first home win in nearly two years.
After building a 20-point lead, the Bulldogs watched as Bluehawk Brandon Wakefield almost single-handedly erased three quarters of their good work, connecting on six 3-pointers in the final six minutes, but the Bulldogs survived Wakefield’s red-hot shooting and held on for the 52-50 victory, which was their first win at home since beating the Bluehawks 51-45 in February of 2008.
Against a team he loves playing, Bulldog senior Jorren Gies went off for a game-high 23 points, 14 rebounds, and seven steals. After Wakefield connected on his sixth 3-pointer of the fourth quarter to cut what once seemed an insurmountable Bulldog lead to 51-50 with 22 seconds to play, Gies pushed the Bulldogs' lead to 52-50 with a free throw and then made a block and secured the rebound on the defensive end to seal the victory.
“It’s the best feeling ever. The last time was two years ago and it was the same ... You got to love it, to pay them back a little bit,” said Gies, who was on the Doghouse court last year, when Thompson Falls kept a full-court press on for most of the game in a 77-40 blowout. “After the last couple of free throws, I couldn’t stop smiling,” he added.
The Bulldogs took a 41-23 lead into the fourth quarter and pushed the lead to 20 points on a Gui Silva layup to start the quarter. Silva, the Bulldogs’ senior guard, finished with 11 points on 4 of 7 shooting and scored six of Mission’s 11 points in the fourth quarter.
After missing on his first 10 attempts from the field, Wakefield hit 3-pointers on consecutive trips down the court to make it 45-31 with just more than five minutes to play.
The Bulldogs seemed well in control, even after the back-to-back treys, but then started turning the ball over and missing foul shots. The Bulldogs committed 13 turnovers in the second half after only turning the ball over four times in the first 16 minutes. They went 3-for-12 at the line in the fourth quarter, when they had a chance to ice the game. In a clinic of what not to do with a lead in the fourth quarter, the Bulldogs also kept fouling the Bluehawks and giving them a chance to score with the clock stopped. Gies was called for two offensive fouls in the second half and Bulldog center Jake Durglo was sent to the bench with his fifth foul with just less than four minutes to play. Durglo finished with 10 points and 13 boards.
“Our inexperience showed up,” is how Mission coach Lloyd Phillips explained the final eight minutes. “The basket got real huge for Wakefield. I think that’s more 3’s than he made in his career. He lit us up. He looked like all-world tonight.”
As frustrating as it was for Phillips on the sideline in the fourth quarter, he thinks the narrow victory will make the Bulldogs a better team.
“It’s probably better for us, that it went down this way because now we have things we can address,” Phillips said.
The final eight minutes also couldn’t erase what the Bulldogs did in the first 16 minutes, holding a talented Bluehawk team to 16 points to go into the break with a 10-point lead.
“The bottom line is that we almost held them to 10 points in the first half and for as many weapons as those guys have, that’s not an easy thing to do,” Phillips said.
The crowd-pleasing victory came on the heels of a 67-41 conference loss to the third-ranked Horsemen in Plains Friday. The Bulldogs were only trailing 12-10 with less than three minutes to play in the first quarter, but the Horsemen went on an 11-0 to finish the quarter. Plains also went on an 8-0 run at the end of the third quarter to put the game out of reach.
“For 25 minutes last night, we played those guys even,” Phillips said.
Gies led the Bulldogs with 11 points on 4-of-8 shooting. In what Phillips calls his “best game of the year,” Silva finished with nine points and four rebounds.
The loss to Plains made the victory over Thompson Falls that much bigger.
“We’re trying to get to .500 and that’s a big deal. You don’t want to lose two in a row and you never want to lose at home,” Phillips said.
The Bulldogs (4-6, 2-3) will travel to Ronan to play the Chiefs Saturday. The Chiefs beat the Bulldogs at home 49-43 Dec. 19.
“We don’t match up well with their speed ... and coach Woll knows these kids as well as I do,” Phillips said.
Plains 67, Mission 41
Mission 10 12 10 9–41
Plains 23 16 14 14–67
MISSION - Riley Charlo 2, Jorren Gies 11, Austin McDonald 4, Gui Silva 9, Jake Durglo 6, Lane Wheeler 2, Spencer Ahlborn 2, Lakota Matt 2.
PLAINS - Kyle Hermiston 6, Dillon Fryxell 11, Brian Green 15, Bryce Benson 11, Trent Thompson 14, Carson Lilja 5, Andrew Baker 1, Tanner Ostrom 4.
Mission 52, Thompson Falls 50
T. Falls 6 10 7 27–50
Mission 13 13 15 11–52
THOMPSON FALLS - Chalis Wilson 7, Garrett Reinschmidt 5, Brandon Wakefield 20, Will Dalby 12, Mike Wood 6.
MISSION - Jorren Gies 23, Austin McDonald 4, Gui Silva 11, Jake Durglo 10, Josh Durglo 4.