Heading to state
It was a game for the storybooks – the underdog Reed Point-Rapelje boys defeated the Plenty Coups Warriors 72-51 in the Southern C divisional tournament on Feb. 26, guaranteeing them a place on the state tournament bracket.
The Warriors came in averaging more than 85 points a game, with two big men under the boards and four 3-point shooters outside, but the young Renegade team showed confidence, taking a 16-11 lead in the first quarter and never relinquishing it. Each time the Warriors came within 10 points, RPR went on a seven- or nine-point run to maintain their lead.
“I was really pleased with the intensity and confidence we exhibited in the semifinal game with Plenty Coups,” RPR head coach Jerry Thompson said. “After having lost to them three times during the year and by 47 points a week earlier, we came out very aggressive both offensively and defensively in the first quarter.”
Junior Cade Bare led RPR scoring with 31 points, followed by sophomores Trevor Herzog with 19 and John Schladweiler with 12.
RPR out rebounded Plenty Coups by an overwhelming 52-33 and outshot the Warriors in all categories – 45 to 27 percent in 2-pointers, 33 to 11 percent in 3-pointers and 70 to 52 percent at the charity stripe.
For a team that scores like no tomorrow, Plenty Coups was a no-show. Junior Arlo Male Bear Jr. was the only Warrior in double digits, with 11 points. Plenty Coups managed to force 21 turnovers on the Renegades, but they had 14 of their own, thanks to RPR’s 1-3-1 trap
Thompson credited Herzog, sophomores Dylan Blodgett and Payton Severin, and freshman Tristan Gieser with holding Plenty Coups seniors Joshua Wilson and Lando Stewart to single-digit scoring under the boards.
The Renegades faced the No. 2 seeded Terry Terriers in the championship game on Feb. 27. After dispatching Park City in the opening round and then knocking out District 6C No. 1 seed Broadview-Lavina in the semifinal, the Terriors defeated RPR 53-32.
“It appeared that we kind of ran out of gas in the second half of the championship game, although a lot of that had to do with Terry’s defense,” Thompson said. “They’re a very good team, with quickness, speed and some size.”
Terry also played with a sense of urgency – they didn’t want to be in a challenge game with Plenty Coups, Thompson said.
“Maybe due to the fact that we had already qualified for state, we didn’t seem to play with that same sense of urgency,” Thompson said. “The wins over Northern Cheyenne and Plenty Coups took a lot out of us both physically and mentally. But again, give Terry credit. They played better than us and deserved to win the championship.”
The Renegades took the early lead, 16-6 at the end of the first quarter, with Schladweiler scoring all 11 of his points in the first half.
“Terry played a tough zone defense, and we struggled to get good looks after the first quarter,” Thompson said. “When we did get a good look, we couldn’t get the ball to drop.”
RPR played good defense for the first three quarters, but Terry took the lead in the fourth quarter and forced the Renegades into man-to-man defense.
“They have some quick guards, and we had trouble matching up with them and stopping penetration,” Thompson said. “They were able to pull away from us at that point.”
Bare had 11 points for RPR, and Herzog had eight.
The Renegades started off the divisional tourney on Feb. 25 with a high-scoring win over the Northern Cheyenne Eagles of Lame Deer, 73-63.
Bare put up 35 points in the game, including a remarkable 17-of-20 from the charity line. He also had eight rebounds and four takeaways.
Herzog was right behind, with 25 points, 10 rebounds and four takeaways. The 6-foot-5 forward was also 2-for-4 from the 3-point line.
“I think we kind of surprised Northern Cheyenne with our offensive output, as we shot over 50 percent from the field for the game,” Thompson said. “It’s not always how much you score, but whether you take advantage of scoring opportunities when presented with them.”
The Renegades led from the get-go, 20-14 after the first stanza and 37-24 at the half, with the Eagles posting only 38 percent shooting for the game. RPR’s largest lead in the game was 16 points, but the score was tied twice and the lead changed once.
“Defensively, we did a good job of limiting their offensive runs,” Thompson said. “We were able to come with some big defensive stops when they started to cut into our lead.”
Thompson had kudos for the entire RPR team.
“I couldn’t have asked more from our team during the divisional tournament,” he said. “Cade and Trevor provided offensive spark and played great defense. John and Dylan gave us added offensive production. John had probably his best shooting games of the season. Dylan is just solid in everything he does. He has to play point guard at times, and at other times I have him in the post. He does a great job on defense and rebounds well. Tristan does a very good job at handling the point position on our 1-3-1 trap defense. He has come a long way this year as a freshman to solidify the fifth starting position for us. Payton has developed in to a very valuable sixth man and is giving us some quality minutes off the bench.”
The Renegades will face the Box Elder Bears, the No. 1 seed from the Northern C division, in the opening round of the state tournament in Great Falls on Thursday, March 3, at 6:30 p.m.
The Bears won the Class C championship in 2014 and are tough in the way Plenty Coups is – good pressure defense, a lot of shooters and a couple big guys underneath, Thompson said.
“We’ve been the underdog in almost every tournament game in district and divisional, so we’re used to that role,” Thompson said. “We’ll see if we have anymore upsets in us.”
Reed Point-Rapelje 73, Northern Cheyenne 63
RPR 20 17 16 20 – 73
NC 14 10 19 20 – 63
RPR: Cade Bare 35, Trevor Herzog 25, John Schladweiler 7, Tristan Gieser 2, Dylan Blodgett 4
NC: Donald Bishop 25, Paul Foote 14, Elias Elk Shoulder 9, Ezekial Rising Sun 6, Richard Smith Jr. 7, Callen Swank 2.
Reed Point-Rapelje 72, Plenty Coups 51
Reed Point-Rapelje 16 23 8 25 – 72
Plenty Coups 11 13 8 19 – 51
Reed Point-Rapelje: Cade Bare 31, John Schladweiler 12, Tristan Gieser 2, Trevor Herzog 19, Dylan Blodgett 6, Mike Davis 2.
Plenty Coups: Blake DeCrane 8, Skylar Plain Feather 9, Kobe Gutierrez 5, Liddon DeCrane 3, Lando Stewart 7, Arlo Male Bear Jr. 11, Joshua Wilson 8.
Terry 53, Reed Point-Rapelje 32
Terry 6 21 10 16 – 53
Reed Point-Rapelje 16 10 4 2 – 32
Terry: Dylan McCulley 12, Lane Stickel 12, Shad Mack 4, Zak Gierke 14, Kale Gierke 9, Austin Smith 2.
Reed Point-Rapelje: Cade Bare 11, John Schladweiler 11, Tristan Gieser 2, Trevor Herzog 8.