The riddle remains, but the game's in the books.
Missoula Loyola's boys claimed their third District 7-B basketball win Tuesday night with a 60-31 victory over Darby on a night when the visitors from the Bitterroot got off just 20 shots.
"We're trying to slow things down. It's something we're going to have to do all year is try to make people play at our pace," said Darby coach Dave Paisley, whose Tigers dropped to 0-3 in league and 0-6 overall.
Senior Brian Holden scored 16 points and two other Rams had 11 in a disjointed game in front of a sparse crowd at Sister Rita Activity Center. Loyola (3-0, 3-2) outrebounded the undersized Tigers 33-18 and forced most of Darby's 28 turnovers, but the snail pace on one end made it hard to find rhythm on the other.
Darby attempted three shots in both the first and third quarters, and seven each in the other two. The Tigers made nine baskets (and 13 free throws) all night, and missed the only 3-pointer they tried.
Versus man, trap, press and zone - the Tigers' approach in front of a sparse crowd at Sister Rita Activity Center was the same. It involved long sequences of passes and dribbles, most of them on the perimeter, with Paisley, in his first year at Darby, imploring "patience, PATIENCE."
"They were so odd to play against. They didn't attack," said Loyola coach Scott Anderson, whose Rams will face a vastly different look Wednesday night when they travel to Class A Stevensville.
"We were trying to pick up the pace a little bit. You've got to get something out of it for tomorrow," Anderson said. "It's frustrating. You can get some bad habits out chasing the ball to half-court. A couple of those kids Stevensville has will be scoring 30 in a heartbeat if you get out there too far."
Loyola led just 8-4 after the first quarter, then started pulling away. Holden, a smooth 6-1 senior who scored 20 in three of the Rams' first four games, tallied a couple of times on fast breaks and another on a slash to the hoop. Connor Zins scored back-to-back hoops to launch Loyola on a 12-3 run that bumped the lead to 23-10 by halftime.
Travis Schallenberger, who had four steals, scored for Darby on a rare early shot to start the second half. But eight of the Tigers' next nine possessions were cut short by turnovers, and the other resulted in two missed free throws.
Darby didn't hit another two-pointer until its first time down in the fourth quarter. By then it was 41-19.
Loyola's biggest player, 6-4 senior Kyle Schaff, came alive in the fourth period with seven of his 11 points. He had two early baskets off offensive rebounds.
Sophomore Adam Hollenback hit two of the Rams' three 3-pointers and also scored 11.
"Mad as I was, the kids were trying to do the right things," Anderson said.
Darby's Dillon Oliver, a 6-foot-2 sophomore, asserted himself in the second half and wound up with nine points. Five of his game-high eight rebounds came in the final period.
"He's played well all year," said Paisley. "He had 18 against Deer Lodge, and he's maturing right in front of our eyes."
Guard Noah Stout created problems for Loyola on defense with his quickness, and scored eight points. Junior Brad Theissen also made things happen. Six of his eight points came on as many shots from the line, earned with athletic slashes.
Loyola, which hit 47 percent of its field-goal attempts (24-for-51) but only 9 of 23 free throws, reached the 60-point mark for the first time this season. The Rams own conference wins over Valley Christian and Florence, as well as Darby. All three came at home.
"Their inside pressure is dynamite," Paisley said of the Rams. "They do a good job of putting pressure on you wherever you're at on the court. When you compare them to Deer Lodge, they're not in the same class as far as talent goes, but they get after you and they play hard."