BUTTE -- In order for one area team to survive Friday at the Class A boys' basketball state tournament, one had to fall.
And it was Polson who emerged victorious against Hamilton at the Butte Civic Center in a loser-out matchup.
Matthew Rensvold scored 16 points and grabbed eight rebounds, leading the real Polson boys’ basketball team to a 51-45 win over Hamilton in a loser-out game of the State Class A Tournament on Saturday.
Polson turned in a subpar performance in a loss to Billings Central in their opening game on Thursday but bounced back the way the team knew it could.
“We just didn’t play very well yesterday,” Rensvold said of Thursday’s 57-37 loss to the Rams. “It was nerves, probably more than anything. We had a talk about it (Thursday) night and we were going to come out and play well the whole game.”
Both teams turned in a performance that was worthy of the state tournament but the Pirates happened to have one more run in them.
Polson took a two-point lead into the second half and came away with a 37-33 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
An 8-2 run by Hamilton, capped off by Hunter Omlid’s 3-point basket with 4:25 to play tied the score at 41. Carter Kearns put the Broncs in front moments later with a pair of free throws but the Pirates fought back.
Tanner Wilson hit a 3 with 1:37 to play that put Polson back in front for good. The Pirates closed out the game by hitting key free throws.
“We had to play hard and win,” Rensvold added. “We couldn’t let them dictate the game. We knew they were going to hit 3's but we knew we had to get inside because we were bigger than them.
“We needed to go out there and get a win for our confidence and for everybody to be confident going into (Saturday).
Tanner Goligoski scored 13 points, and Kearns added 10 to lead the Broncs in what turned out to be their final game of the season.
Jaydon Bautista also scored in double-figures for the Pirates, closing out the game with 14 points.
Belgrade 68, Hardin 67
Dawson Fowler scored 19 points and Easton Page came off the bench to add 15 as the Belgrade boys’ basketball beat Hardin, 68-67, in a loser-out game of the State Class A Tournament, Friday afternoon at the Butte Civic Center.
“My main goal is to do it for the seniors,” Fowler added. “I wanted to win at the state tournament for them. And I want to be the bad guy. I want to knock these other teams out and go as far as we can.”
The Bulldogs were led by Left Hand, who returned late in the fourth quarter. He finished with 21 points and 11 rebounds. McCormick also had 21 points for Hardin.
Trey Layman also had a double-double for the Panthers, who will draw Laurel on Saturday. Layman finished with 10 points and 10 defensive rebounds.
Billings Central 47, Laurel 43
Jet Campbell hit key 3-point baskets and finished with 20 points to lead Billings Central to a 47-43 win over Laurel.
The Rams will face Dillon, a team they lost to in last season’s Class A finale.
Dillon 53, Butte Central 39
The Dillon boys basketball team extended its unbeaten streak — extending back to January 2016 — by toppling Butte Central, 53-39.
The Beavers plays in the state championship game at 8 p.m. Saturday, while the Maroons are bumped to consolation play against Polson at 9:30 a.m. If Butte Central wins, it will advance to the third-place game at 6:30 p.m.
Beavers coach Terry Thomas said Dillon got off to a great start offensively.
“Our guys did a really nice job of moving the basketball from one side of the court to the other,” he said. “Then, when we got a chance to take it up to the basket to see if we could get a good shot, we did. Then to get a good start like that allowed us to play the defenses that we wanted, and it gave us a little rhythm to the game.”
Dillon (23-0) shot 63 percent from the field and was 5 for 9 at the 3-point arc. Troy Andersen led the Beavers with 20 points, while Tanner Haverfield chipped in 14 points.
The Maroons were led by McCloskey and Heaphy with nine points apiece. Johnston added three steals and two assists. Butte Central shot 40 percent from the field and grabbed 15 rebounds.
It will be the fourth consecutive year Dillon plays for the state title. The Beavers placed second twice, and then beat Billings Central for last year's title. Dillon has four state titles since 2007.
Butte Central will play Polson in Saturday's early loser-out game at 9:30 a.m.