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Wolves advance to Divisionals

With a second-place finish in last week’s 5B District Tournament in Churchill, the Three Forks High School Boys’ Basketball team will be making their seventh consecutive trip to the Southern B Divisional Tournament and a February 28 matchup at the Metra in Billings at 2:30 p.m. against Lodge Grass.

After opening the 5B District Tournament on February 14 with a convincing 76-44 opening-round win over Townsend, the second-seeded Wolves (14-7) qualified for Divisionals with a hard-fought 49-46 semifinal win on February 16 over third-seeded Jefferson. Three Forks would fall in finals 55-43 to one-seed Manhattan.

Following the Divisional clinching win over the Panthers, Three Forks Head Coach Terry Hauser said it is awesome to be once again making the trip to Billings.

“We’ve been lucky to get to Divisionals a lot, pretty much every year except my first one. People take it for granted sometimes. There are teams that haven’t been there in four or five years. To be able to play in the Metra and have a chance to play at the State Tournament is what it’s all about. District Tournaments are hard. We had to beat Boulder three times this year, and that is a really good basketball team. Going to the Metra, it feels great,” Hauser said.

It was a dominant start to the 5B District Tournament for the Wolves, who used a strong defensive performance on their way to a 76-44 win over seventh-seed Townsend at the Manhattan Christian Events Center.

The Wolves took an 18-6 lead at the end of the first quarter and would score the first ten points of the second quarter to take a 41-18 lead into the break.

Three Forks would close out the third quarter strong and had a 62-28 advantage going into the final quarter.

Hauser lauded his team’s intensity and said when you are at districts, it does not matter who you are playing or what seed you are – everything is erased when it’s tournament time.

“We know sometimes we struggle to score, so we have to bring it every single night. It’s all based on our defense. It is our staple, and it’s what’s going to win is to win us games this year,” he said.

Three Forks was led in scoring by Dylan Swenson with 19, and Shane Williams was also in double figures with 14. Hunter Feddes had nine, Sam Tesoro and Dryden Frisinger had eight, Kanon Reichman and Devon Long had six, Caleb Van Vleet finished with four, and Carter Allen added two points.

The Wolves advanced to the title game with the 49-46 semifinal win on February 16 against third-seed Jefferson.

Trailing 18-14 at the end of the first quarter, Three Forks would bounce back in the second and outscore the Panthers 12-8 in the second half to make it a 26-26 game at halftime.

Up one late in regulation, Tesoro would hit two critical free throws to push the lead to three, and the Wolves would lock in on defense to close out the win and secure a third matchup with Manhattan.

Feddes led the team in scoring with 12, Swenson had 10, and Tesoro finished with nine. Van Vleet and Williams finished with seven, and Reichman and Frisinger added two.

Hauser said his team was not only able to grind out the win but they were prepared for the battle with Jefferson.

“We played good in tough moments,” he said.

The Wolves would lose 55-43 in the finals against rival Manhattan.

After Three Forks scored the first point of the game on a Reichman free throw, Manhattan would get hot from the outside and would go on a 13-0 run. The Wolves would battle back and score the next seven, capped off by a Van Vleet three-pointer to cut the score to 13-8. The Tigers would score with time running out in the quarter to take a 15-8 lead into the second.

Manhattan remained red hot in the second quarter and led 38-19 at the half.

Swenson led the team in scoring with 19, Williams had nine, Van Vleet finished with eight, Feddes had six, and Reichman finished with one.