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Final destination for Hawks

Boys finish fourth, end season with exciting overtime matchup

It couldn't have been a more rip-roaring end to the Blue Hawks 2023 basketball season. The Blue Hawks played four games last weekend in Anaconda and Deer Lodge for the Western 7-B Divisional Tournament. It was a weekend of fireworks for the Hawks with the last game ending in an overtime grand finale loss against Mission.

The first game for the Blue Hawks was a loss on Thursday against the top-ranking Loyola-Sacred Heart Rams 78-27 at the Memorial Gymnasium in Anaconda. "It was fun to see them go out and compete with everything they had, knowing each day the season was on the line," said Coach Jake Mickelson.

On Friday the Hawks came back to beat the Eureka Lions 55-50. The Hawks controlled the first half 31-12 and then held a 21-point lead going into the fourth at 42-21. They bottlenecked with the Lions in the last quarter but were able to scurry fast and tighten up their defense to keep the Lions at bay. "A dominant first three and a half quarters turned into a wild west showdown the last few minutes that saw Eureka get as close as five points," said Mickelson.

Blue Hawk Jacob Britt scored 13 points, rebounded five and had two assists and Jesse Claridge hooped 13 points and grabbed five rebounds. Braxton Dorscher racked up nine points, rebounded three and made two assists, Bryson LeCoure banked six points, rebounded six and achieved three assists, Nick Tessier shot six points, Ben Cooper hooped five, Alex Menzel scored three points and grabbed four rebounds and Breck Ferris made three rebounds.

With that win the Blue Hawks were matched up against the Anaconda Copperheads on Saturday in Deer Lodge. Britt started the game off with the first basket, followed by Claridge. The quarter ended at 16-9, the Hawks down by seven. At the half the Hawks were tailing 25-19.

In the third quarter Thompson Falls kept the Copperheads from scoring, grabbing the first four baskets and ending the quarter 33-31, Anaconda in the lead. The final quarter was bottle rockets of three-pointers for the Hawks: Dorscher with two, LeCoure with one and "Big Shot Britt" with the last one to win the game at 45-42. "The Anaconda win felt great for the boys," said Mickelson.

Britt was the top scorer with 15 points, LeCoure shot nine, Dorscher hooped seven, Claridge banked six and Tessier and Ferris both scored four points. "Being able to advance to the Consolation Finals didn't seem realistic after the Loyola game but that is exactly what this resilient group of young men put themselves in a position to capture," said Mickelson.

Then came the final showdown, the consolation battle between Thompson Falls and the Mission Bulldogs. It was a grapple from the get go. The first quarter ended 15-13, Blue Hawks with the edge. The Hawks dominated the second quarter with aggressive offensive drives and a tough defense, ending at 36-25. LeCoure started the third quarter off with a three-point shot and the Bulldogs got within five points before Claridge sank a lay-up shot, made a free-throw and slammed a rebound shot to keep a ten point lead to end the third, 52-42.

Claridge banked the first shot in the fourth and at 4:52 left on the clock the score was 58-46. The slack started to tighten in the last 32 seconds at 64-59. The Bulldogs made a three-pointer at 24 seconds, at 16 seconds Dorscher made a free-throw, at eight seconds, Bulldog Zoran LaFrombois made two free-throws and then stole the ball for a tie-breaking shot, bringing the score to 66-66 and into overtime.

Dorscher launched the first shot in overtime and at 2:12 on the clock the score was 71-71. LaFrombois made four points from the free throw line and Britt swooshed in a basket and at 14 seconds left, LaFrombois again made two free throw shots to win the game for the Bulldogs 77-74.

"Although Mission was a heartbreaking loss, I don't want to take away from the game that our boys played. They were poised, focused, and put themselves in a great position to win the game, save a monumental performance by Zoran LaFrombois. He was unstoppable in the fourth quarter and overtime (he scored 28 points in the last six minutes of regulation)," said Mickelson.

Blue Hawk LeCoure shot 22 points, Dorscher hooped 12, Britt racked up 11, Cooper and Claridge both made ten points, Ferris scored five and Tessier shot four points.

"They worked so hard and played so well together it was really bittersweet to have it all come to an end so suddenly, but I wouldn't take anything back for a minute to create all the memories we did this year as a team. They have a lot to be proud of and the Seniors deserve a big thank you for creating a great program and showing the younger players how much fun it is to compete in postseason basketball," said Mickelson.


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