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Chiefs put on a nail-biter while Maidens defeat Lady Pirates

RONAN – Competition, commemoration and camaraderie were all part of the Friday evening activities in the busy Ronan Event Center. Inside a packed and loud gymnasium, Ronan and Polson were pitted against each other for the final matchup of the regular basketball season.

The host Ronan Maidens won the opening girls’ game over the visiting Polson Lady Pirates by a score of 55-13, while the Polson Pirates won against the Ronan Chiefs by a final score of 59-50.

The Maidens set the tone early by establishing an 11-point lead over the Lady Pirates in the first quarter. The Maidens had a 35-5 lead as both teams headed into the locker room at the break. In the third quarter, the Maidens outscored the Lady Pirates 14-6. The Maidens sealed-the-deal for a 55-13 home win. The victory snapped a twogame losing streak for the Maidens who move to 6-8 on the season.

“Our girls are starting to figure out team basketball both on the defensive and offensive sides,” said Maiden head coach Steve Woll. “We just try to get a little better every day as individual players and as a team.”

Leading the Ronan girls in scoring was senior Tiana Ulutoa with a gamehigh 13 points followed by Jaylea Lunceford and Regan Clairmont who each chipped in with 10 points.

For the Lady Pirates, Mossy Kauley was the top scorer with six points.

Between the doubleheader, the new members of the Ronan Athletic Wall of Fame were celebrated. Their photos and names can now be seen on the wall.

Joining the Chief and Maiden athletes on the “Wall of Fame” were Phillip “Frenchy” Roullier (1929 All-state basketball), Alexander “Sam” Clairmont (1929 All-state basketball), John Cornelius (1931 state track champion) and Ralph Salomon (1948 state track champion).

Also finding places on the wall was the 14-0 1935 girls basketball team who finished the season as the Lake County and Western Montana champs. The Chiefs' 1960 state basketball champion team was added along with members Jim Hurt (1960 All-state basketball), Harold Fullerton (1960 All-state basketball / East-West Shrine Game), Leonard “Lenny” Schacher (1960 All-state basketball) and coach Art Previs (1960 Class B - Coach of the Year).

Other inductees included Dennis Webster (1964 East-West Shrine Game / All-state basketball), Richard “Dick” Schroer (1950 East-West Shrine Game), Kenneth Schroer (1956 East-West Shrine Game), Dan Corcoran (1957 East-West Shrine Game), George White, Jr. (1960 East-West Shrine Game), Roy Loman (1966 East-West Shrine Game) and Dick Barber (1953 Allstate track champion).

Following the Wall of Fame induction ceremony, coaches and assistants from both the Ronan and Polson boys and girls squads teamed up with prep and college basketball coaches across the nation by participating in the Coaches vs. Cancer Suits and Sneakers initiative.

“A lot of people in the area have been affected by cancer. It’s a terrible, terrible disease,” said Ronan Chief head coach Mitchell Wassam. “Although this is considered a rivalry game, we just wanted to show the community that we could come together as one for a cause bigger than basketball: the game of life.”

Since its inception over 25 years ago by the American Cancer Society, the nationwide event was started with the purpose of unifying basketball coaches and their teams together for one common cause which is to raise awareness and help save lives from cancer.

According to the American Cancer Society’s website, the coaches wearing of sneakers is to remind people of the important role that screening, physical activity and nutrition play in reducing the risk of cancer.

On Friday, during a brief ceremony, fans were encouraged to stand and acknowledge those who have been affected by cancer by joining the players and coaches in a moment of silence while holding up signs with the names of loved ones who have battled or that are currently in the fight with the dreaded disease

In the boys game, Polson demonstrated hot shooting early, leading the Chiefs 14-8 at the end of the first quarter. While battling back tying the score multiple times in the second quarter, the Chiefs at one point even led the Pirates by as much as four points before a late Polson scoring surge gave the Pirates a 34-31 lead to end the first half.

Heading into the final minute, what had been as much as a seven-point lead for the Pirates through most of the third and fourth quarters had all but evaporated.

Down 51-50 with less than 30 ticks on the clock, a missed jumper by the Chiefs would have regained the lead, however, the subsequent rebound and score by the Pirates put them up 53-50 with only 8.8 seconds left in the game.

An untimely and unfortunate technical foul by the Chiefs put the Pirates at the free throw line where they put the win on ice for the 59-50 final.

“I thought our guys played with great effort,” said Wassam. “I was proud of the way they busted their butts. We had a few short lapses where we gave up some offensive rebounds and squandered some opportunities around the rim, but ultimately we were able to execute for the most part and we did some really good things.”

On the evening, Pirate Trevor Schultz led all scorers with a game-high 14 points, while Randy Finley paced Ronan with 12 points and Chief Dallas Durheim chipped in with 11 points.

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