Loco boys overcome sickness, take 3rd at State

By 
Chris Mcconnell
Thursday, March 11, 2021
The Locos celebrate after taking 3rd at the Class A State Championship at Four Seasons Arena in Great Falls last weekend. The team had several players fall ill to what was likely food poisoning on Thursday but recovered to win two games on the weekend. From the left are Bennett McMorris, Kyson Moran, Ty Barta, Wylee Schnetter, Jace McNeil, Richie Cortese, Colter Bales, Emmet Renner, Daylen Flemmon, Dalton Boehler, Konner Gregerson and Shel Osborne. Outlook photo by Chris McConnell

The Locos celebrate after taking 3rd at the Class A State Championship at Four Seasons Arena in Great Falls last weekend. The team had several players fall ill to what was likely food poisoning on Thursday but recovered to win two games on the weekend. From the left are Bennett McMorris, Kyson Moran, Ty Barta, Wylee Schnetter, Jace McNeil, Richie Cortese, Colter Bales, Emmet Renner, Daylen Flemmon, Dalton Boehler, Konner Gregerson and Shel Osborne. Outlook photo by Chris McConnell

Laurel overcame a likely bout of food poisoning in Great Falls to come back through the losers bracket and win the consolation game during the Class A State Championship at Four Seasons Arena in Great Falls on Saturday.

After they won their opening round game against Ronan on March 3, they had a day off and and had food catered. Later that night four players got sick and senior Colter Bales went to the ER to get fluids through an IV.

They came out sluggish on Friday in their semi–final game and lost in double overtime to #1 ranked Dillon before everybody recovered and they won two games on Saturday to finish 3rd.

Last year they were scheduled to play in the State consolation game at the Metra before the tournament was cancelled due to the outbreak of the coronavirus.

 

Saturday, March 6 (consolation game) Laurel 56, Ronan 49

On Saturday afternoon they faced Ronan for the second time in four days and beat the Chiefs 56–49 on the strength of senior big men Richard Cortese and Bales who had 16 and 21 points respectively. The Locos came out fast with Cortese and Bales scoring the first 11 points before Ronan started pressing and and hit a couple three’s to take the first quarter lead 14–12. Cortese had a big dunk to start the half but the Chiefs hit two quick three–pointers to go up 20–14. Laurel battled back to take a 26–25 lead into the half. They pull away in the 4th on a good quarter from senior Wylee Schnetter and went into the final quarter up 11.

Ronan got within four with 1:33 left on a couple more three’s (they had eight for the game) then started fouling Laurel. Free throws had been a weakness for much of the tournament (44%) in this game, but Ty Barta made two clutch shots from the line to help keep Ronan at bay and Laurel brought home the win and 3rd place trophy.

 

Saturday, March 6 (loser–out) Laurel 55, Butte Central 44

Laurel played in the first loser–out game at 9 a.m. on Saturday against Butte Central and Senior Jace McNeil said the players had recovered from the illness before the tip–off. Laurel was clearly the better team throughout the game but Central stayed in it via free throws and three point shooting. Laurel let 26–20 at the half and stretched the lead to 11. The Maroons never got closer than seven and the Locos walked in an 11–point win, 55–44.

Cortese led the Locos with 13 points and seven rebounds. Kyson Moran went 4/5 from the field and had 10 points and seven boards. Bales had nine with 10 rebounds. Schnetter had eight and five.

 

Friday, March 5 (semifinal) Dillon 55, Laurel 48 (2OT)

The best game of the boy’s tournament was the semi–final matchup between the undefeated Beavers and Laurel, which went into double overtime last Friday.

Four Locos were sick from what was likely food poisoning, and it showed in the first half when they shot a dismal 13% from the field and went 1/8 from beyond the arc. Dillon also shot poorly (33%) which was a credit to Laurel’s defense. They only scored four points in the first quarter and five in the second which all came from the injured Emmet Renner. He provided a much needed spark, making two free throws and hitting a three in the only game he played in the tournament.

Laurel was only down seven (9–16) going into the 3rd quarter but they still were playing flat and went down 12 with 3:25 to go before they dug deep and found a second wind.

Schnetter hit a big three and the Locos went into the final quarter down seven.

Schetter hit two free throws and a monster three with 6:14 in the game. They kept creeping closer and took their first lead of the game (38–37) on a Bales shot with 1:15 left. Dillon answered then Laurel turned it over and fouled with 33.5 seconds left. Dillon made one and were up 40–38. Schnetter got the inbound pass and drove the length of the court and made a wild eight–foot runner in traffic with 10 seconds left to tie the game and send it into overtime.

The Locos kept the momentum into the first 4:00 OT and Cortese scored on a sweet Bales dish to put them up 42–40 with 2:25 left. Laurel got a steal and missed the shot but Cortese tore the rebound down, scored and was fouled to give the Locos the four point lead. There may have only been a couple hundred Laurel fans in the stands but it sounded like a thousand, and the team celebrated the monster play. Cortese nailed the free throw and they were up 45–40 with 1:57 left.

Dillon immediately went down and nailed a three then Laurel turned it over and Dillon scored again to tie it at 45. Laurel had the ball with 15.6 seconds left to win but failed to score or get a foul and the game went into the second overtime period.

Then, as sometimes happens in multiple overtime games, one team pulls away and that’s that. Laurel missed some key free throws, had a couple turnovers and were outscored 10–3 to fall 55–48 to the Beavers.

Schnetter had 13 points and five rebounds, Cortese had 11 and seven, Bales eight and seven and Renner and Moran each added five. Laurel shot 35% from the field and 52% from the foul line in the game.

 

Wednesday, March 3 (quarterfinal) Laurel 62, Ronan 44

In Laurel’s first game of the Class A State Championship Laurel went into the second half tied with Ronan at 24–24 before Cortese almost single handedly took over the game and the Locos cruised to the 18–point victory, 62–44, to make it to the semi–finals.

He finished the game with 22 points, shot 65% from the field, hit 4/6 free throws and had 12 rebounds. Barta also had a big game, scoring 15 on 5/8 shooting which included three from behind the arc (he also shot 100% from the foul line for the tournament, going 8–8). Colter Bales added nine points and four rebounds and Schnetter had six.

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