Joliet falls short of reaching State
As close as 11 seconds away from a trip to State and then 12 hours later the season was over for the Joliet J-Hawks. That’s how close Joliet head coach John Nelson and the team came to moving on. It made for a very sentimental ending of the season.
Joliet started the tourney strong in a 50-46 narrow victory over Colstrip on the first day and were among the favorites to move on to State.
The semifinal one point 62-61 loss to Lodge Grass was the beginning of the end.
Joliet had a lead in the second quarter, but most of the game was a back and forth affair.
J-Hawk Matt George had a huge steal in the waning seconds and scored to put Joliet up by one with only 11 seconds remaining in the game. All they had to do was make a big defensive play and they would have punched a ticket to State.
Instead Lodge Grass made a tough shot with just three seconds left in regulation and pulled away with the win after a half-court heave by Taylor Rowlison missed.
“That was tough to deal with,” said Nelson. “We didn’t shoot free-throws well in the second half and that was the difference.”
After the loss, Joliet was tasked with playing Whitehall the next morning in a loser-out game.
After a tie going into halftime the J-Hawks entered the final period up by two before being outscored 18-11 and giving up a 51-46 loss to Whitehall and with it Joliet’s chance at playing at the State tourney.
No one understands the pain more than first year coach John Nelson and the seniors who won’t get another chance to redeem themselves.
“This was my first boys basketball team,” said Nelson. “I couldn’t have asked for a better group. They worked their tails off all year long and brought home the first basketball trophy since we’ve been in Class B with a district title.”
The J-Hawks will lose five seniors for next year. Ty Olson, Wyatt Kramer, Matt George, Logan Mydland and Justin King will all graduate this year, but Nelson believes the boys left a strong foundation for next year’s team to build upon.
“Those five leave some big holes to fill and I will miss them a lot,” said Nelson. “Great group of leaders and a great group of kids.”
Joliet def. Colstrip 50-46
Colstrip 10 8 18 10 — 46
Joliet 9 13 13 15 — 50
Colstrip: Kellen Bighead 5, Payton Means 13, JT Baer 1, Joel McRae 4, Kobee Bigback 11, Isaiah Williams 12.
Joliet: Wyatt Kramer 13, Brett Robinson 10, Taylor Rowlison 3, Rylan Olson 2, Ty Olson 20.
Lodge Grass def. Joliet 62-61
Whitehall def. Joliet 51-46