Pirates battle overtime for third-place state trophy
MISSOULA — Despite not winning the game that mattered, the Polson Pirates proceeded to win three straight games to give them a third place finish at the State A tournament.
The Pirates lost their first game of the tournament to Billings Central on Thursday, March 4, which eliminated their chances of playing in the championship game. The Pirates led the entire game until the final quarter when Billings Central surged past Polson. Polson’s Payton Lefthand and Jeremiah North Piegan challenged their opponents’ defense by scoring a combined 20 points, but their efforts were not enough. Billings Central outscored the Pirates by 10 points in the final minutes of the game and continued to win 47-43.
The Pirates, looking to redeem themselves, took on Hamilton the following night in a loser-out game and won by a mere point, 51-50, which set them up for a Saturday, March 6 morning game against Hardin.
Both teams were fighting for a chance to play in the third place game. The Pirates were down in the first quarter, but it was Polson’s Matthew Rensvold who took control of the rest of the game. Rensvold had nine rebounds and 20 points in the game, which helped top Hardin 64-50. Lefthand also contributed in the win with 14 points and Tanner Wilson added 13.
Their win against Hardin put Polson in the Consolation Championship game Saturday night against Havre.
The contest didn’t disappoint. The game was tied at 54-54 in the final minutes of the fourth quarter. Rensvold had a defensive stop that sent the game into an intense overtime. The game went back and forth until it came down to which team was better from the free throw line.
Polson’s Julian Jones was the deciding factor when he made three free throws and a steal in the final minutes of overtime. Rensvold and North Piegan each had 18 points and Lefthand tossed in 11 to help the Pirates push past Havre 66-65. The Pirates ended their season with 19-6 record and also had their best showing at state in the last six years with their third-place finish.
Billings Central 47, Polson 43
Polson 51, Hamilton 50
Polson 64, Hardin 56
Havre 65, Polson 66 - OT