By Derek Hendrickson
The Corvallis Blue Devils won an entertaining game, 69-57, over the Stevensville Yellowjackets to stay alive in the Western A Divisional boys’ basketball tournament Friday afternoon at the Butte Civic Center. Stat sheet
The teams traded huge quarters in the first half as Corvallis opened the game on fire and built a 23-6 lead behind the hot shooting of Chase Jessop. Corvallis drilled seven triples for the game, all in the first half, three by Jessop and back-to-back trifectas by Tylor Nixon.
Stevensville wasn’t going quietly into the offseason as they answered back with a five-point run to end the first and a 20-11 advantage in the second to trail only 34-31 at the break.
James Fry had a massive game in an effort to help the Yellowjackets advance, scoring 28 points as he relentlessly drove to the bucket, drawing enough fouls to attempt 20 free throws, draining 17.
The Yellowjackets ran into foul trouble starting in the third, which really hurt their momentum. Dalton Bragg played a clean first half but picked up 3 fouls in the first four minutes of the third and then drew his 4th later in the quarter.
Bragg had been a force down low for Stevi, scoring 14 point and ripping down 6 rebounds, including 4 on the offensive end that led to several easy buckets.
Corvallis did an excellent job defending the Yellowjackets only senior, Bryce Torrey, who only could muster 3 points in his final game. Torrey was a contributor to Stevensville’s state championship team in 2013 and had an outstanding career for Stevi. The Yellowjackets end their season with a 5-15 mark.
Nixon led Corvallis with 20 and Jessop had 17 to lead the Blue Devils attack. Caleb Powell added 9. Justin Catanach made several hustle plays, scoring 6 points and grabbing 8 boards but had to leave the game early in the second half after banging his head on the floor diving for a loose ball. He was not cleared to return.
The Blue Devils shot 57 percent from the floor and made 19 of 28 free throws in the second half as Stevensville tried to extend the game by fouling midway through the fourth. Corvallis did not allow any sort of run in the second half like the one that got the Yellowjackets back in the game.
The Blue Devils, 8-13, advance to the consolation semifinal and will have a play in against a familiar foe as either Butte Central or Dillon will drop into the loser bracket following tonight’s semifinal. Corvallis will face that opponent tomorrow at the MAC, tipping off at 8:30.