Laurel boys poised for run at Divisionals

The Laurel boys basketball team is off to Divisionals this week for what seems to be a fun tournament in the making. All five seniors on the team are looking to make an impact in the tournament as these next fews games could be some of their last. Finishing with a 11-6 record (6-4 in conference), the Loco boys feel like they have more to prove. They go into the tournament as the 3rd seed.

They began their season out by traveling to Columbus where they started the season off hot, blowing out Columbus 62-32. After dropping a game against Billings Senior, they traveled to Wyoming to take on Star Valley then faced Sugar-Salem (Idaho) at home, both games ending in double digit victories.

Once back from their road trip to Idaho, the boys lost their next two games against Livingston and Hardin, both class A foes. They seemed to bounce back quickly, as they won their next four games which included three conference wins and a 63-17 win against Columbus, its largest margin of victory all year.

After an up and down season, the Locomotives finished the season on a three game winning steak, winning four of their last five. Their defense has been great to end the year, allowing no more than 40 points per game during that winning streak. Many of the players feel they can make a good run in the divisional tournament. They are locked in and looking to gain a berth to the state class A tournament at Montana State University in Bozeman.

Head Coach Pat Hansen is feeling good going into the tournament. “I feel good going into every game,’ coach explained. “We have a great, skilled group of kids this year. I almost feel like some still haven’t played up to their full potential yet; that’s how talented I think we are.”

Coach Hansen also likes the matchup against Livingston and had a few keys to success for getting the win against them. With all of the size the Park County boys have, Hansen feels limiting transition offense and points in the paint is paramount. “We can’t let them get what they want on offense,” he said. “In the game we played against them, their size gave them an advantage and we need to limit that.” Coach Hansen and his players have been watching film since they found out their matchup.

Senior Dante Filpula-Ankney is feeling confident in his teammates. “If we play with a lot of energy, we have a good shot at going to [the class A state tournament in] Bozeman. We all have trust in each other to make the right plays,” the four-year guard explained. His main source of confidence in his teammates comes primarily from the amount of team chemistry they play with, some having played together since middle school. “Finding the open guy and sometimes making an extra pass is a key to success,” he added.

The Locomotives play their first game of the tournament against Livingston Thursday at 9 a.m., a team they will be looking for revenge against after losing their only meeting this year at home 54-48. “Coming off a long trip back from Wyoming, we were all pretty tired,” explained Filpula-Ankney regarding the early season loss. “That’s no excuse though. We match up well against them and need to get it done Thursday.” Regardless of the score, the Locos will get a day of rest and lace their shoes up again on Friday. A loss would make their second game at 10:30 a.m., while a win would make the game at 3 p.m.

With the way the tournament format is, only four teams will make it to state in Bozeman. Holding the 3rd seed in the bracket, Laurel hopes to hold true to their seed and make it through the tournament.

After losing key seniors last year, this group wants to come out and put on a show for the always rowdy Laurel student section this weekend at the MetraPark Arena in Billings. Many of these players were on the team last year when the boys hoisted the Divisional trophy above their heads and are looking to do it once again.

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Tuesday, April 30, 2019
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Wednesday, May 1, 2019
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Every Wednesday at 5:30 p.m., check www.laurelexchangeclub.org for more info. Find them on Facebook www.facebook.com/laurelexchangeclub . Email them to find out meeting time and to join: clubinfo@laurelexchangeclub.org The club will have a meeting or volunteer activity. Meeting location is Sid's East Side Bar & Grill on first and third Wednesdays of each month. Members and guests eat free.  Volunteer activity on the second Wednesday of each month. Check their facebook page for updates.  Every fourth Wednesday is for a club social activity. 
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Tuesdays, Noon, Beartooth Grill, 305 1st Ave. S.
Wednesday, May 8, 2019
10 a.m., Laurel Public Library, 720 West Third Street, Laurel, 628-4961

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