Pitcher Passes

Three Forks’ Zach Pitcher passes the ball against Deer Lodge during the first night of the 2020 State B basketball tournament in Butte.

At 7 p.m. Friday, Gov. Steve Bullock announced Montana had its first four known cases of coronavirus. Two hours later, the Montana High School Association canceled the remainder of its state basketball tournaments.

At the same time, Three Forks battled Fairfield at the Butte Civic Center. The game was originally scheduled as a Class B semifinal. But following the MHSA’s announcement, the winner would become a co-state champion since no more games in the tournament would be played.

With five minutes remaining and the Wolves trailing by about 10 points, Three Forks head coach Terry Hauser found out the news from an assistant coach. Hoping to inspire his players, Hauser told them Friday’s game was their last.

“Terrible coaching decision,” Hauser said.

Three Forks (20-5) then faded down the stretch as Fairfield pulled away to secure a 58-39 win. The Wolves had held on to beat Powell County, 38-35, on Thursday to reach the semifinals.

After MHSA’ announcement, Fairfield and Lodge Grass each claimed a share of the Class B title.

Three Forks trailed by three after each of the first two quarters. But then the Eagles broke free, taking a 12-point lead into the fourth quarter and holding on from there.

The Wolves beat Fairfield earlier in the season, but it wasn’t meant to be in the rematch.

“I know they won by 20, but we got open look after open look,” Hauser said. “It was almost laughable after a while. In-and-outs 3s. We just couldn’t score. Sometimes that’s just how it goes.”

Micaiah Hauser and Dustin Dalke led the Wolves with 17 points and nine points, respectively.

Thursday, Zach Pitcher buried three 3-pointers en route to scoring a game-high 14 points, while Micaiah Hauser and Dalke each finished with 10.

Coach Hauser mentioned the cancellation was tough to handle, but commended his group for their persistence all season.

“The determination and heart of these kids was unbelievable,” he said. “Most unselfish team I’ve ever coached.”

State B Tournament Results

Thursday’s results

Lodge Grass 71, Shelby 40

Rocky Boy 62, Arlee 46

Fairfield 64, Colstrip 42

Three Forks 38, Deer Lodge 35

Friday’s results

Shelby 68, Arlee 59, loser-out

Deer Lodge 56, Colstrip 49, loser-out

Lodge Grass 81, Rocky Boy 54, semifinal

Fairfield 58, Three Forks 39, semifinal

Co-State Champions: Fairfield & Lodge Grass

Boxscores

Three Forks 38, Deer Lodge 35

Deer Lodge                  4  3  15  13  -  35

Three Forks                  8  10  7  13  -  38

DEER LODGE (17-7) - Ben Anderson 1 6-9 8, Ethan Bossert 0 0-0 0, Logan Nicholson 3 0-3 7, Ozzie King 6 5-8 11, Aidan Thompson 4 1-3 9, Keith Kippenhan 0 0-0 0, Brodeyk 0 0-2 0, Carson Whiteley 0 0-0 0. Totals: 11 12-25 35.

THREE FORKS (20-4) - Micaiah Hauser 2 6-7 10, Owen Long 1 1-2 4, Zach Pitcher 5 1-4 14, Dustin Dalke 4 2-4 11, Austin Allen 0 0 0-0 0, Trenton Nimmick 0 0-0 0, Mayson Shively 0 0-0 0, Zane Hansen 0 0-0 0. Totals: 12 10-17 38.

3-point goals: DL 1 (Nicholson), TF 4 (Pitcher 3, Long 1).

Fairfield 58, Three Forks 39

Fairfield                    14  10  16  18  -  58

Three Forks               11  10   7  11  -  39

FAIRFIELD (20-6) - Conor Murray 3 1-1 8, Keeley Bake 6 5-6 17, Guidry Giles 0 0-0 0, Gavin Mills 4 0-0 10, Kaelob Flores 5 0-0 10, Gaice Blackwell 0 1-2 1, Daniel Faith 3 0-0 6, Owen Cartwright 2 0-0 4, Brian Ward 0 0-0 0, Cooper Christensen 1 0-0 2, Bryden Batson 0 0-0 0, Tyson Schenk 0 0-0 0, Brayden

Kolwyck 0 0-0 0. Totals: 24 7-13 58.

THREE FORKS (20-5) - Micaiah Hauser 6 4-4 17, Owen Long 0 1-2 1, Zach Pitcher 3 0-0 8, Dustin Dalke 4 0-0 9, Austin Allen 1 0-0 2, Trenton Nimmick 0 0-0 0, Zach Butcher 0 0-0 0, Mayson Shively 0 0-0 0, Zane Hansen 0 0-0 0, Antonio Boggio 1 0-0 2. Totals: 15 5-9 39.

3-point goals: Fair 3 (Mills 2, Murray 1), TF 4 (Pitcher 2, Hauser 1, Dalke 1).