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Rocky tops Orediggers in overtime

Rocky tops Orediggers in overtime

By Bruce Sayler

Montana Tech wasn’t in the mood for excuses Friday night. The Orediggers could’ve made plenty.

Flat and tired are only two. Head coach Adam Hiatt, though, wasn’t ready to assign blame anywhere else after the 84-80 overtime loss to Rocky Mountain in a Frontier Conference college men’s basketball game in the Montana Tech HPER Complex.

“Once you got to overtime, it was a matter of who made plays,” he said. “Jared Samuelson is one of the best in the conference.”

Samuelson, the 6-foot-7 junior drop-down from the University of Montana made most of his overtime contributions on defense. He scored 15 points and pulled down seven rebounds for the game — which was plenty enough effort to almost win it for the Bears in regulation.

It was his clogging the key, challenging shots and deflecting some, though, in the extra period that might have made the most difference.

Taylor England sent the game to OT for Montana Tech by making a free throw for a 74-all tie with 30 seconds to go in regulation. Rocky Mountain set up for a hope-for winning play and Clayton Ladine attempted a contested 15-footer. It missed, but Rocky Mountain’s Lukas Vining, a Montana Tech transfer, grabbed the rebound and attempted the follow. However, the Orediggers’ Carson Dummer stuffed it on a block and time expired.

The teams traded points and occasional leads, Montana Tech’s coming on two Blake Dittman free throws for an 80-79 edge with 1 minute, 44 seconds to go in overtime. Ladine then scooped up a loose ball and gunned it home from 3-point range for an 82-80 Battlin’ Bears lead. They held it.

Samuelson disrupted inside attempts by both England and Dylan Pannabecker. The Bears gained possession and Ladine was fouled by Drew Huse.

Ladine made his second shot and Rocky Mountain’s lead was 83-80 with 46 seconds left in the overtime. A try by England missed from the paint again with Samuelson n defense. Vining grabbed the rebound.

The Orediggers’ Derrius Collins was whistled for a foul against Satchel MacDonald. The Bears’ shooter missed both foul shots and England grabbed the rebound. Huse drove the key hunting an and-one opportunity, but couldn’t get the shot to fall. Craig Wilmore snared the rebound for the Bears and was fouled by Dittman.

Only eight ticks were left on the clock.

Wilmore missed the first charity toss, but netted the second for the putaway point, an 84-80 margin.

The Orediggers looked for a chance at being fouled on a 3-point attempt, but the Bears stayed away. Collins’ 3-pointer at the buzzer was off the mark and Wilmore snagged the carom as time expired.

“I liked the fight in our guys,” Hiatt said. “We could’ve won that basketball game. The character our guys showed was a good sign for our coaching staff. We’re just a couple of players away from being at the top.”
The start wasn’t so promising on Friday. The Orediggers were coming off an emotional, wearing 69-66 victory over seventh-ranked Carroll on Thursday and Rocky Mountain hadn’t played a game since Saturday.

“It’s a tough schedule,” Hiatt said, acceptingly. “We had a big, emotional win last night, but we played a lot of guys. Back-to-back games are challenging, sure. And we’ve faced this two times this season — playing a Thursday night game, then coming back and playing on Friday. That’s two times this has happened and we were flat the second game in both of them.”

The Orediggers seemed to be puttering in the fast lane in the first half and fell behind the Bears by 45-31. If fatigue was a factor, then the second-half prospects didn’t seem to be glowing.

They gathered themselves, though.

They came out on a 9-0 run, turned it into a 14-3 spree and the Bears had a game on their hands. England started the surge with a three-point play and then a rebound basket. Troy Owens Jr. scored on a fast-break Huse started with a steal and then Collins knocked down an 18-footer. A 3-point try by Collins burped back out of the hoop before Rocky Mountain interrupted the run with a Wilmore trey .

The Orediggers resumed their attack.

England hit from inside, Huse caged a free throw and England sank two freebies. The 14-point Rocky Mountain halftime command had dwindled to a 48-45 difference with 13:46 still to play in regulation.

Montana Tech took its first lead at 61-59 on a Dittman 3-pointer and then battled Rocky Mountain pretty much bucket-for-bucket the rest of the way.

“We played better defense,” Hiatt answered when inquired about the difference in his team the second half. “We didn’t turn the ball over, or turn it over nearly as recklessly as we did in the first half. We had 11 turnovers that immediately turned into their points in the first half. We played slower and passed the ball to the right guys.

“We made 26 free throws tonight and that’s what got us back in the game. We went to the rim aggressively.”

Huse, a freshman, took on most of the load at point guard as Nate Ward was limited to about 3 minutes at the start of the game before sitting because of injuries, Hiatt said.

“There were some big moments tonight for Drew Huse,” Hiatt said.

Huse had 10 points and three assists.

“We started the second half with a 9-0 run,” Hiatt said. “(The Bears) won the first half and we won the second half. They are a good team with a lot of weapons. And they have a coach (Bill Dreikosen) who has been doing it for a long time.”

Ladine and Wilmore scored 20 points each to pace Rocky Mountain. Samuelson’s 15 and 12 by Brandon The Boy gave the Bears four double-figure scorers. The win put Rocky Mountain at 19-10 for the season, 10-7 in conference play.

The Orediggers were led by England with 22 points, Owens with 17, Collins with 12 and Huse with 10. Dittman scored eight points, Dummer seven, and Christian Jones and Pannabecker put in two apiece. Nick Fitts also played.

Montana Tech finished a 16-14 regular season and 6-12 Frontier Conference campaign. The Orediggers and Bears will square off again on Wednesday when they meet in Billings in the first round of the conference playoffs.

 

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