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State AA boys
Missoula Sentinel’s Kendal Maier shoots over Josh Benjamin of Billings Skyview during a first-round game at the State AA tournament Thursday in Billings. Photo by PAUL RUHTER/Billings Gazette

BILLINGS - Day 1 at the State AA boys' basketball tournament saw dominating performances by both Great Falls CMR and Missoula Sentinel on Thursday at MetraPark.

The defending champion Rustlers and Spartans both caught fire early in their first-round contests and will now meet in Friday night's semifinal round. CMR won 62-37 over an over-matched Kalispell Flathead, while Sentinel dumped Billings Skyview 65-41.

The third-ranked Rustlers began play on the boys' side of the bracket by making 60 percent of their shots in the first half. Reigning tournament MVP Josh Huestis led the charge for CMR with 19 points, nine rebounds and four blocked shots.

The Rustlers raced out to a 23-9 lead in the first quarter and made 12 of 20 shots in a first-half blitzkrieg that ended with CMR holding a 34-18 advantage. The Braves shot 43 percent from the floor in the opening half, but couldn't keep pace with the Rustlers.

"If anybody is better than them, then that's a pretty good basketball team," Flathead coach Fred Febach said. "Once the dam burst, it was tough to put your finger in the hole and hold them back."

Sentinel was just as productive, shooting 54 percent from the floor in its opening half, while limiting the Falcons' top two players - junior post Danny Little and senior guard Rylan Shaw.

"That was our game plan, holding down their big two," said Kendal Maier, the Spartans' senior point guard. "I think we did a pretty good job of doing that."

Sentinel finished with four players in double figures, while Little and Shaw combined for just eight points.

The Spartans (14-7) and Rustlers (19-3) meet Friday at 6:30 p.m. in the first boys' semifinal game.

"They're an awfully good team," Sentinel coach Craig Matosich said of the Rustlers. "Right now we're just going to enjoy this one. I'll wait until after dinner to start discussing CMR."

The Braves (12-9) and Falcons (13-9) meet in a loser-out game Friday at noon.

CMR 62, Flathead 37

The 6-foot-8 Huestis scored eight of his points in the third quarter, including a quick six during an 11-0 run at the start of the third quarter, as the Rustlers put away the Braves.

"We came out fired up," said Huestis, who had 11 points and six boards by halftime. "Every game is do-or-die."

Sophomore Russ Morin, Huestis' frontcourt teammate, added nine points and nine boards for CMR, which thoroughly won the rebounding battle, 44-26. Senior Jordan Harper had eight points, including a pair of 3-pointers.

The Rustlers finished the game shooting 57 percent. Flathead's shooting trailed off after halftime, both in percentage and attempts. The Braves made 39 percent of their shots.

"Once you hesitate as a shooter," Febach said, "you're done."

Flathead junior guard Joe Pistorese had seven of his team-best nine points in the first half. Karl Ingram scored all eight of his points and had two stuffs in the second half.

"We knew going in that this would be a tough, physical matchup," Febach said. "But we get to bounce back and see how we play (Friday)."

Flathead 9 9 2 17 - 37

CMR 23 11 19 9 - 62

Flathead - Dean Stimpson 0-1 0-0 0, Tanner Salois 0-9 0-0 0, Matt McLean 0-1 0-0 0, Ian Gillespie 0-2 0-0 0, Karl Ingram 4-8 0-1 8, Joe Pistorese 2-10 5-7 9, George Sherwood 3-7 0-0 7, Mike Vanarendonk 3-8 0-2 6, Shea Schroeder 0-1 0-0 0, Connor Tice 1-2 1-1 3, Scotty Keller 0-0 2-2 2, Jeremy Grosswiler 1-2 0-2 2. Totals: 14-51 8-15 37.

CMR - Kurtis Parsons 3-3 1-3 9, Jake Bleskin 3-8 0-3 6, Greg Oswood 2-3 0-0 5, Payton Skawinski 0-3 0-0 0, Bryan Graupmann 0-1 0-0 0, Jade Klette 1-2 0-0 2, Jordan Harper 3-7 0-0 8, Josh Huestis 9-14 1-2 19, Tyler Stanich 1-2 0-0 2, Cody Clausen 1-1 0-0 2, Gavin Hagfors 0-2 0-0 0, Russ Morin 4-4 1-4 9. Totals: 28-53 2-9 62.

3-pointers: Flathead 1-18 (Stimpson 0-1, Salois 0-4, Gillespie 0-1, Pistorese 0-5, Sherwood 1-3, Vanarendonk 0-4) CMR 4-11 (Parsons 1-3, Oswood 1-1, Skawinski 0-2, Harper 2-4, Huestis 0-1). Rebounds: Flathead 26 (Vanarendonk 7), CMR 44 (Morin 7). Assists: Flathead 2 (Ingram 2), CMR 14 (Skawinski 4). Turnovers: Flathead 7 CMR 14. Blocks: Flathead 2 (Ingram, Vanarendonk), CMR 4 (Huestis 4). Fouls: Flathead 11, CMR 13. Fouled out: None.

Sentinel 65, Skyview 41

Maier had 16 points to lead a balanced scoring effort by the Spartans, who advanced to the semifinals for the second time in three years.

Sophomore Riley King tossed in 15 points, including a pair of 3-pointers, and senior Zack Wagenmann and junior Ben Roberts added 12 points each for Sentinel, which led 29-21 at halftime.

The Spartans, and in particular Wagenmann, did a good job of limiting Little to just one field goal attempt. The 6-7 future Montana State hoops player made his only attempt with 43 seconds left in the third quarter.

"We have a kid named Zack Wagenmann and he's our unsung hero," Matosich said. "He defends so dang well, and he did a good job on Little."

"We knew Zack was a capable post player," Skyview coach Toby Hill said. "Dan didn't have a good night, and part of that was because of Zack. He was the aggressor out there."

The Spartans lead ballooned to 51-29 when Wagenmann opened the fourth quarter with a dunk. Roberts had a big dunk off a steal in the first quarter, which gave Sentinel a 22-10 advantage in the early going. The Spartans finished with nine steals.

"We were very undisciplined," Hill said. "We gambled a few times and they made us pay. They deserve to win."

Connor Smyle hit five 3-pointers en route to 15 points for the Falcons.

Sentinel 22 7 20 16 - 65

Skyview 10 11 8 12 - 41

Sentinel - Robby King 0-0 0-0 0, Zach Murphy 0-0 0-0 0, Connor Woodill 1-41-2 3, Zack Wagenmann 5-7 2-6 12, Kendal Maier 4-12 7-10 16, Ben Roberts 4-8 3-5 12, Nathan Jewett 0-0 0-0 0, Brad Corntassel 0-0 1-2 1, Trevor Olson 0-2 0-0 0, Riley King 6-14 0-0 15, Alex Bray 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 23-50 14-25 65.

Skyview - Connor Lebsock 0-1 0-0 0, Connor Smyle 5-13 0-0 15, Dallin Stott 0-1 0-2 0, Matt Furhman 0-2 0-1 0, Josh Benjamin 3-6 0-0 8, Jake O'Brien 2-5 1-2 5, Haakon Nordrum 0-1 3-6 3, Ryan Shaw 2-11 2-4 6, Matt Davis 1-4 0-2 2, Danny Little 1-1 0-0 2, Tommy Little 0-0 0-0- 0. Totals: 14-45 6-17 41.

3-pointers: Sentinel 5-15 (Maier 1-5, Roberts 1-1, Ri. King 3-9), Skyview 7-20 (Lebsock 0-1, Smyle 5-10, Benjamin 2-4, O'Brien 0-2, Shaw 0-3). Rebounds: Sentinel 38 (Roberts 7, Ri. King 7). Skyview 34 (Nordrum 6, D. Little 6). Assists: Sentinel 8 (Roberts 2, Olson 2, Ri. King 2). Skyview 9 (Shaw 4). Turnovers: Sentinel 8. Skyview 15. Blocks: Sentinel 2 (Wagenmann, Worden). Skyview 1 (Stott). Steals: Sentinel 9 (Maier 3). Skyview 6 (Nordrum 2, Davis 2). Fouls: Sentinel 14. Skyview 20. Fouled out: None.

 

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