By Derek Hendrickson
The Polson Pirates are the first team to lock up a berth in the Class A State tournament next week in Missoula, beating a very game Hamilton Broncs squad, 57-47 Friday afternoon in the semifinals of the Western A Divisional at the Butte Civic Center. Stat sheet
Polson led for most of the game but could never pull away and a seven-point burst by Bronc sophomore Carter Kearns midway through the 3rd had Hamilton fans feeling the upset.
Polson utilized their mountain of a post Matthew Rensvold for much of the game but needing a spark in the 4th it came in the form of 6-foot-3 senior Julian Jones who had back-to-back old fashioned three point plays as he drove to the bucket and gave Polson the advantage.
Hamilton never went away until the final minute when their desperation attempts went unrewarded and Polson was able to sink their foul shots to ice the win.
For the second game Kearns was the story for Hamilton, drilling shots from all over the floor in route to 31 points on 12 of 19 shooting. Ky Burch joined him in double figures with 10 but the rest of the roster could only muster six points.
Polson was able to find some backing for their top two scorers as Rensvold dominated down low with 10 points on 8 of 11 from the floor, he also grabbed 9 rebounds. Jones added 11 and 8 boards.
Point guard Payton Lefthand added nine points and Wyatt DuCharme had 8, six of which came on free throws in the waning moments.
Polson seemed to score at will in the first half on over the top passes to Rensvold but could never pull away due to the amazing scoring ability of Kearns, making for a extremely fun game to watch.
In the second half both teams made strong adjustments but the burst by Jones took Hamilton out of their usual slashing and cutting offense as they couldn’t afford to be patient down by more than one possession.
The Pirates advance to the Championship Game of the Western A Divisional where they will await the winner of tonight’s other semifinal between Butte Central and Dillon. Polson is now 16-4 on the season.
Hamilton (12-8) will get another crack at the state tournament as they will have a play in game tomorrow morning where they will take on Whitefish, who had a strong win over Columbia Falls earlier this morning, 72-52. A win there will allow them to advance to the consolation final and a guaranteed top four finish.