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GREAT FALLS - Loyola Sacred Heart had 27 minutes of solid basketball in the books Thursday at the State B boys' basketball tournament. Then the bottom fell out.

Shelby's Chase Ballantyne scored all of his 16 points in the second half and teammate Matt Flesch keyed a closing 19-2 run with nine of his own as the Coyotes surged past the Rams 55-49 at Four Seasons Arena.

Chase White added a game-high 18 for Shelby, which takes a 16-9 mark up against Huntley Project in Friday's 8 p.m. semifinal. The Red Devils (21-3) held off Wolf Point 59-53 in the other first-round game.

Shelby 55, Loyola Sacred Heart 49

It was another difficult loss for the Rams, which didn't dress post player Cade Cross (foot injury), had Everett Johnston in foul trouble and still built leads of 14-3, 27-14 and 39-25 in the first three quarters.

They led 47-36 on a Pat Jensen jumper with 5:03 left, but their next eight possessions netted them just two free throws.

Seven turnovers helped fuel Shelby's comeback, as did 3-pointers from White and Ballantyne. The latter, after White made a steal and missed but tapped the rebound out, knotted the game at 49-all with 1:50 left.

The Rams committed another turnover, and White promptly set up Flesch for the go-ahead bucket with 51 seconds left. It was 51-49, the Coyotes' first lead.

That the Rams' Peter Shaughnessey missed a mid-range jumper with 30 seconds remaining wasn't remarkable; that it was Loyola's first field goal attempt since 5:03 was. White and Flesch each hit two free throws in the final 27 seconds to cap the scoring.

"We were in the same boat we were last week," said a disappointed Scott Anderson, Loyola's veteran coach. "Couldn't handle the pressure."

The Rams lost an 18-point second-half lead in their Western B final against Florence. This one was just as tough.

"Turnover after turnover," Anderson said. "All we have to do is play catch and get to the free-throw line. It's too bad. I think this group could've made a run at it."

The 6-foot-7 Jensen had 14 points, but the rest of the Rams' big three didn't fare as well. Johnston fouled out in less than 13 minutes with 6 points, though Tanner Grimstad helped fuel Loyola's hot start.

That the Rams couldn't sustain it down the stretch bothered Anderson more than his zone defense, which saw Ballantyne hit four 3-pointers in the second half.

"It was our offense, not our defense," he said.

Carter Bermingham supplied a couple 3-pointers and had five rebounds and six assists for the Rams (19-6), who have a 2 p.m. loser-out game against the Wolves.

Shelby 9 5 20 21 - 55

Loyola 16 11 14 8 - 49

SHELBY - Matt Flesch 6-7 4-7 16, Chase White 5-17 5-6 18, Matt Alford 0-1 0-0 0, Chase Ballantyne 5-12 2-4 16, Kellen Clark 0-0 0-0 0, Jordyn Irvin 2-6 0-0 5, Brennan Hayes 0-1 0-0 0, Dane Alford 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 18-45 11-17 55.

LOYOLA SACRED HEART - Pat Jensen 6-11 2-2 14, Everett Johnston 3-4 0-1 6, Tanner Grimstad 3-3 1-4 7, Peter Shaughnessey 2-6 3-3 7, Carter Bermingham 3-9 0-0 8, Brandon Haggarty 1-5 0-0 2, Kevin Dougherty 1-1 1-2 4, Shiloh Kerr 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 19-41 8-13 49.

3-point goals - Shelby 8-27 (Ballantyne 4-9, White 3-13, Irvin 1-4, Hayes 0-1), Loyola 3-11 (Bermingham 2-7, Dougherty 1-1, Jensen 0-1, Shaughnessey 0-1, Haggarty 0-1). Rebounds - Shelby 24 (Flesch 7), Loyola 31 (Bermingham 5). Total fouls - Shelby 14, Loyola 15. Fouled out - Johnston. Assists - Shelby 14 (White 4), Loyola 14 (Bermingham 6). Blocks - Shelby 5 (Hayes, Ballantyne, Flesch, D.Alford, Clark), Loyola 1 (Shaughnessey). Steals - Shelby 8 (three with 2), Loyola 6 (3 with 2). Turnovers - Shelby 13, Loyola 17.

Huntley Project 59, Wolf Point 53

Like Loyola, Project had a blistering start, but the Red Devils also were able to dodge the bullets at the end.

Kris Castro sandwiched 3-pointers around an old-fashioned three-point play to put the Red Devils up 16-4 early, and they led 37-22 early in the third quarter on a T.J. Harris free throw.

From there, things tightened up. Alex Barr hit a pair of fourth-quarter threes to draw the Wolves to 49-45 with 3:24 left, and Jordan Moran's bucket inside cut the gap to 55-53 with 56 seconds remaining.

From there, Casey Waldhauser and Harris hit single free throws to give the Red Devils a little breathing room. In between, Harris drew an offensive foul from Wolf Point's Jesse Driftwood.

Harris hit 10 of 12 free throws to finish with 17 points. Taylor Dees also was big, scoring a game-high 19 - he had nine in the third quarter to delay Wolf Point's comeback plans - and grabbing 12 rebounds while giving up six inches to the 6-8 Moran.

"If you look at the game on paper, to control the boards by 14, that's huge for us," said Project coach Mark Branger. "He (Dees) is a kid that thrives on competition. The higher the competition the better he plays. He hit those outside jumpers; he was deadly at the free throw line. He had a great game."

Driftwood had 12 points for Wolf Point (19-6). Barr added 11 and Moran 10.

Castro, who battled foul trouble, had 12 of his 14 points in the first half.

Wolf Point 11 11 13 18 - 53

Huntley Project 20 11 14 14 - 59

WOLF POINT - Jesse Driftwood 5-7 2-2 12, Mikel Weeks 2-7 0-0 4, Jordan Moran 3-7 4-9 10, Walker DeWitt 1-5 6-6 9, Zach Zilkoski 3-11 0-0 7, Alex Barr 4-10 0-1 11, Martin Weeks 0-1 0-0 0, Jacob Bauer 0-0 0-0 0, Adison Renz-Speed 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 18-48 12-18 53.

HUNTLEY PROJECT - Spencer Clampitt 0-2 2-2 2, Kris Castro 4-7 4-6 14, Taylor Dees 7-14 5-5 19, T.J. Harris 3-10 10-12 17, Casey Waldhauser 0-1 2-6 2, Casey Stark 0-2 0-0 0, Zach Tallon 1-2 2-2 5, Zack Wohlfeil 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 15-38 25-33 59.

3-point goals - Wolf Point 5-13 (Barr 3-5, DeWitt 1-1, Zilkoski 1-5, Driftwood 0-1, Ma.Weeks 0-1), Project 4-7 (Castro 2-2, Tallon 1-1, Harris 1-3, Clampitt 0-1). Rebounds - Wolf Point 20 (Mi.Weeks 5), Project 34 (Dees 12). Total fouls - Wolf Point 24, Project 17. Fouled out - DeWitt, Zilkoski, Driftwood, Clampitt. Technical fouls - Barr, Waldhauser. Assists - Wolf Point 6 (DeWitt 2), Project 10 (Harris 5). Blocks - Wolf Point 7 (Barr 3, Zilkoski 2, DeWitt, Moran), Project 1 (Harris). Steals - Wolf Point 5 (DeWitt 2, Moran 2), Project 4 (4 with 1). Turnovers - Wolf Point 12, Project 15.

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