Columbus and Park City boys headed to divisionals
By Ron Faust
Special to the News
Challenge games are a scary thing.
One game. One team advances. One goes home.
That was the scenario the Columbus Cougars found themselves in Monday night, the Cougars first challenge game since a 55-48 divisional challenge win over Roundup in 2007.
Columbus landed in that predicament as the result of a lackluster 50-39 loss to Huntley Project in the 4B championship game Saturday night, which followed a 54-34 win over Joliet in the semifinals.
There was every reason to believe the challenge game would be close, considering Columbus (17-4) and Shepherd (15-7) had split regular season games, each team winning on the road.
The Cougars came out like a buzz saw, scoring the game’s first five points and racing out to a 17-7 first quarter advantage. Defensively the Cougars were all over the mustangs like a cheap suit, forcing turnovers that fueled fastbreaks. Offensively, when Columbus wasn’t scoring on the break, they tossed it inside to junior Tanner Osborne.
Osborne put on a clinic, scoring from the post in every way possible, tossing in soft fade-away jumpers, powering to the rim, or finding cutters – often mercurial junior Kiefer McKay who seemed to be everywhere at once, or senior point guard Trey Ostrum. The trio combined for 51 points, mostly at the rim, as the Cougars had little need to shoot from the outside.
A reeling Shepherd team could find no answers. Any hope for a rally from the 37-15 halftime deficit were snuffed when the 3rd quarter began with Kade Osborne finding a streaking McKay on a fast break then tossed in a soft hook shot from the paint. By the time Tanner Osborne gathered in a rebound and took it coast-to-coast early in the fourth quarter, the lead was 61-33 and coach Barta cleared his bench.
Columbus opens play at the Southern B divisional March 5 against Colstrip (7-13) who upset St. Labre (13-6) in the 3B semifinals before losing to Lodge Grass (11-10) in the championship.
Shepherd 7 9 13 11 — 40
Columbus 17 20 22 12 — 71
S: Landon Murray 8, Chad Nebel 7, John Mushaben 7, Kohl Michels 2, Preston Salveson 4, Wyatt Strahan 4, Colter Feuerstein 8.
C: Kade Osborne 8, Kiefer McKay 16, Trey Ostrum 17, Braden Marjerison 2, Tanner Osborne 18, Andrew Wells 2, Jackson Booth 6, Jace Aumueller 2.
HP 14 10 10 16 — 50
Columbus 8 8 15 8 — 39
C: McKay 8, Ostrum 7, T. Osborne 14, Wells 1,Ryland Stampfel 4, Brady Exner 5.
Joliet 6 4 7 17 — 34
Columbus 9 8 19 18 — 54
C: Kade Osborne 7, Kiefer McKay 15, Trey Ostrum 3, Braden Marjerison 3, Tanner Osborne 6, Mason Johnston 1, Andrew Wells 5,Jackson Booth 1, Ryland Stampfel 3, Brady Exner 10.
By Marlo Pronovost
The Park City Panther boys’ squad grinded out a third place finish at last weekend’s 6C district tournament to earn them a place at divisionals in two weeks.
The boys first knocked off the Custer-Hysham Rebels 70-44 and then got hit hard the following day with a 48-84 loss to the Plenty Coups Warriors. That loss set up a must-win Saturday morning game against in-county rival the Absarokee Huskies.
The Panthers took that match 37-50 and advanced to play for third place, facing the Rebels for the second time in the tournament. Park City got the same result with a 47-51 victory which placed the team third.
“We had a very successful tournament getting a trophy for the third consecutive season,” said Coach Matt Neumann. “We were able to beat a tough and hot Custer team twice. Plenty Coup had our number Friday. We got beat pretty good in that game. It wasn’t because of lack of effort that’s for sure.”
Neumann said that despite the loss of the second game, “I am so unbelievably proud of how we responded Saturday to win two games.”
Neumann gave Absarokee credit for putting up a tough fight.
“We had to scratch and claw through the game and we won it through pure great effort. I think the same can be said for Saturday night,” said Neumann.