Laurel falls to Central to take 2nd at Divisionals

By 
Chris Mcconnell
Thursday, March 4, 2021
Wylee Schnetter inbounds the ball to Richie Cortese during the Class A Eastern Divisional Championship game on Saturday. The Locos fell to the Rams 47–46 but still advanced to State. Outlook photos by Chris McConnell

Wylee Schnetter inbounds the ball to Richie Cortese during the Class A Eastern Divisional Championship game on Saturday. The Locos fell to the Rams 47–46 but still advanced to State. Outlook photos by Chris McConnell

Laurel came into the Class A Divisional Championship game against Billings Central on Saturday night with high expectations after sweeping the Rams in the regular season series on Jan. 15 (46–40) and Feb. 8 (42–40).

Fans were only allowed in MetraPark to watch the team they had tickets for so the lobby was packed with purple and gold waiting for the girls championship game to finish. The arena was sanitized and the doors opened at 5:40 for the 6 p.m. tip off.

Even with the maximum 1,000 fans allowed in the stands, the anticipation was palpable.

Senior Colter Bales drew first blood a minute into the game and after a Jace McNeil block and a Wylee Schnetter three the Locos led 5–2. Central rattled off two quick buckets and then Ty Barta hit a big three to give Laurel an 8–6 lead halfway through the first. Schnetter hit another long–range three with two minutes left to stretch the lead to six before the quarter ended with the Locos up 17–15.

The game was tied at 21–21 halfway through the second when Laurel went cold from the field. The referees made a couple questionable calls and the Laurel fans let them hear it. Central was up six before Schnetter hit another three with a minute left and Laurel went into the half down 29–24.

Laurel and Central traded baskets in the third quarter and still were down five going into the final quarter. The Locos made a move and took the 41–40 lead with 6:05 left to play. McNeil had a three point play to go up four, then Central hit a big three. McNeil had a huge tip–in to put the Locos up 46–43 with two minutes left. The Rams pulled within one with 40 seconds left in the game. Bales was fouled with 32 sec onds on the clock and missed the front end of a one–and–one. After a timeout Central scored on a second chance effort and Laurel got the ball back with 9.8 seconds left and down 47–46. Bales inbounded to Schnetter who drove the length of the floor and missed the runner. McNeil grabbed the rebound and missed the put–back as time expired.

Schnetter led the team with 13 points. Colter Bales had 12, Jace McNeil eight and Richard Cortese six.

 

Feb. 26 Laurel 52, Glendive 37

Laurel didn’t have much trouble with the Red Devils in the Friday afternoon semi–final game at MetraPark with another 15 point win. With the score 10–9 with two minutes left in the first quarter, the Locos went on a 8–0 run to lead 18–9 after one. Glendive never got closer than six points for the rest of the game. Laurel had struggled from the foul line in recent games but at one point in the fourth quarter five different players went a cumulative 9–9 from the line which increased the lead to 18 points before the game ended with the 52–37 spread.

Bales and Konnor Gregerson led the Locos with 11 points each and seven and six rebounds respectively. Dalton Boehler and Wylee Schnetter each had seven and Kyson Moran added six.

 

Feb. 24 Laurel 48, Miles City 33

In Laurel’s opening round game against Miles City last Wednesday, the Cowboys grabbed the early lead on 4–4 shooting including two 3s before the Locos bounced back. Bales hit a 10– foot jumper off a nice move with three seconds left in the first quarter to tie the game at 11. It was a slow and low scoring second quarter with Laurel going into the half with the 16–14 lead.

The second half was faster paced and Bales had a big dunk with four minutes left in the third to stretch the lead to seven. At the end of three Laurel led 31–26.

Cortese started the fourth quarter off with a nice inside move and the Locos didn’t look back, ending the game with a 15 point win, 48–33.

Bales had 21 points and six rebounds, Jace McNeil had eight points, Wylee Schnetter six and Ty Barta five.

The Locos faced Ronan yesterday at 1 p.m. at the Class A State tournament in Great Falls. If they won they play the winner of the Dillon vs. Hardin game at 5:30 p.m. tomorrow. If they lost they play the loser of that game at 9 a.m. tomorrow.

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