By Derek Hendrickson
The Stevensville Yellowjackets survived a first-round scare Thursday evening, outlasting the Anaconda Copperheads 58-53 at the Maroon Activities Center in Southwestern A Divisional action. STATS
Jared Schultz put on a show, scoring a game high 26 points, most of which came on slashing drives to the basket to help move the Yellowjackets into a semifinal match-up against the Butte Central Maroons Friday night at 6:30.
The Copperheads were a game squad, hanging with the defending state champions all evening despite a late season 63-40 defeat against Stevensville.
Dennis Stanberry led the Anaconda attack, putting in 17 points to go with five assists, unfortunately for the Copperheads they couldn’t seem to get a key basket late to get within striking distance.
Stevensville took control midway through the second, taking a 27-17 lead but the Copperheads connected on three consecutive triples, capped by Drew Conrady’s buzzer beater to pull Anaconda within 35-34 at the break.
The Yellowjackets clamped down on defense in the third, holding Anaconda to only seven points while putting 15 themselves. They took their biggest lead of the game at 50-39 just before the period ended, but Stanberry’s driving layup brought the lead back to single digits and the Copperheads chipped away for much of the fourth.
Jackson Wagner got the Copperheads to within 5 with 1:21 to go on an old school three point play when he was hammered by Schultz. Anaconda forced three turnovers in the waning moments and also got the Yellowjackets to miss 2 free throws but could not connect on any shots of their own to pull any closer.
Sophomore Caleb Stetzner and senior Brandon Fode both scored nine for Anaconda but Stetzner’s 11 turnovers from the point guard position frequently hurt ‘Heads, while leading to easy baskets in transition for the Yellowjackets.
Schultz was backed by Bryce Torrey’s 11 points and Zach Gavlak’s 10. Fode led all rebounders with nine and Stanberry dished out a game high 5 assists. Senior Chris Lords had 6 steals and played a key role in disrupting the Anaconda offense.
Anaconda will await tomorrow afternoon’s loser in the Dillon vs. Corvallis semifinal, who they will play Saturday morning at Montana Tech at 9:30.