BUTTE — For the third straight year, the Billings West Golden Bears have to accept the second-place trophy.
Playing in their fifth straight State AA boys basketball championship game, the Bears couldn't contain Tanner Roderick or the Bozeman Hawks and fell 61-53 to their Eastern AA rival on Saturday night at the Butte Civic Center.
The Bears won back-to-back titles in 2007 and 2008, but they couldn’t claim the school’s eighth championship.
“I was happy for the kids to be in that position,” West coach Doug Robison said of playing in another title game, “but at the same token we’re not going there to take second place. We want to take first.
“Unfortunately, we were just up against a better team and one player that was just remarkable.”
That one player is the 6-foot-2 Roderick, who will be playing football this fall at the University of Nevada.
West played man-to-man on Roderick, rotating Ty Gilmore, Clay Compton and Alex Gallagher at various times to try to contain him. He still wound up with 26 points on 10 for 21 shooting, including a high-arcing shot from the baseline that sailed over the top of the backboard on its way through the hoop.
Missoula Hellgate 43, Billings Skyview 33
Hellgate captured its first state trophy since winning the 2005 championship, with a 10-point victory over Skyview in the consolation finals.
A combination of the Knights’ stingy defense, and a paltry 9 of 42 field goal shooting by the Falcons, cemented the third-place hardware for Hellgate (18-7).
Zach Peevey spearheaded the Knights — who were without the services of Cody Oliver, their third-leading scorer, who sustained a broken foot before the tourney — with game-highs of 15 points and 12 rebounds. Connor Woodill added eight points.
Skyview (17-9) was led by Matt Fuhrman’s 12 points, and nine points and nine boards by Danny Little.
Billings Skyview 55, Missoula Sentinel 53
Skyview’s Haakon Nordrum made a putback while falling on his back for the winning bucket with 1.8 seconds on the clock. Danny Little netted 12 points and posted seven rebounds, while Matt Fuhrman also tallied 12.
The game was tied 31-31 at halftime, and Skyview (16-8) inched in front 41-39 after three quarters.
Sentinel (13-11) took just 36 shots from the floor, making 15, but was 21 of 28 from the free-throw line. The Falcons only made 18 of 52 field goal attempts.
The Spartans were led by Riley King’s 13 points, 15 rebounds and two blocked shots.
Missoula Hellgate 47, C.M. Russell 43
Connor Woodill scored 16 of his game-high 19 points in the second half as Hellgate sent two-time defending champion Russell packing.
Woodill also grabbed 11 rebounds to help Hellgate (17-7) advance to the third-place game. Knights teammates Zach Peevey and Mitchell Hall both scored eight points.
Tyler Stanich scored 18 to lead the Rustlers (15-9). The CMR senior hit four 3-pointers, including two in the final 35 seconds to make things interesting. His second trey, with 25 seconds left, pulled the Rustlers to within 43-41, but two free throws each by Hall and Woodill sealed Hellgate’s win.