The Florence Falcons may be young; they only have one senior on the team and he’s injured right now; but they are not easily intimidated. They proved that on Saturday night when they defeated Stevensville, 59-51, in a battle of the north end of the Bitterroot.
Both teams have new coaches this year and each has a new look. Florence has some height with 6’4” junior Zack Christopherson and 6’2” Beau Neal. Stevensville’s Sean Craft at 6’4, and Kellan Beller and Ethan Shobe at 6’1” each matched up pretty well against the Falcons.
Florence built up a big lead in the first half and then had to hold on for the win. The Falcons were up by 10 points at the half and then open the third quarter with Christopherson slamming down a dunk off a steal by Eli Pedersen and then stepping back on the next Florence play and sinking a trey. In just over a minute, the Falcons built their lead up to 16 points.
But Stevensville wasn’t done. They battled back and pulled within four points by the middle of the fourth quarter. First year coach Nate Fry said, “I think it was too big that we dug to try and get all the way back. I’m proud of them for coming back as far as they did. A couple more free throws and I think we could have been there. “
Florence was in foul trouble in the second half and that sent the Yellowjackets to the charity line several times. However they were unable to convert all of them. “If we’d have made a couple more free throws, I think we could have been there,” said Fry.
Fry said he was proud of the rebounding his team did in the game, especially the offensive rebounds and put back baskets they made. He feels if they can cut down on their turnovers, they will be on the right track.
Florence’s first year coach, Jordan Wittmier, conceded he probably should have called a time out earlier in the fourth quarter to slow Stevensville’s momentum. “We lost focus for a few minutes and they’re well coached and took advantage of that. But the guys kept their poise and made a few late plays that was really the difference for us.”
With the Falcons in foul trouble, they had to back off on their defense just a little. Christopherson picked up his fourth foul midway through the fourth quarter. JP Briney and Levi Posey were also in foul trouble and had to lay back as well. Beau Neal broke loose for a lay up to break open the final scoring run for Florence. Another dunk by Christopherson sealed the game.
“We are young,” said Wittmier. “And we’re gaining experience which is good. We make some young mistakes. We’ve got to keep pushing forward and following the process and trying to peak in late February when tournaments come around.”
Florence 59, Stevensville 51
Florence – Creagan Keller 4, Eli Pedersen 12, JP Briney 9, Zack Christopherson 13, Blake Shoupe 12, Beau Neal 3, Levi Posey 6.
Stevensville – Kellan Beller 17, Tanner Pendergast 12, Wes Brown 4, Carlos Morales 2, Sean Craft 10, Gavin Rahl 3.
Victor won two of their three games this weekend. Their first win was against Two Eagle River School last Thursday in non conference action. The Pirates took an early lead and never looked back. Sophomore Carson Varner and senior Skyler Webberson led the team’s scoring with 19 points each. The Pirates relied on a strong inside presence throughout the game and controlled the offensive boards.
Victor 62, Two Eagle 52
Two Eagle – Anthony Charlo 11, Elias Adams 10, Nehemiah Long 2, Sheadyn Croft 13, Michael Brown 14, Nate Gates 2.
Victor – Christian Larsen 2, Cameron Moore 5, Caleb Rockwood 8, Brandon Bowen 3, Caleb Rosen 2, Skyler Webberson 19, Carson Varner 19, Roan Jackson 2.
Victor defeated Lincoln, 34-24, in 13C conference action on Friday in Lincoln. On Saturday, they fell to St. Regis, 76-27. Webberson had 10 points for Victor.
Hamilton fell to Butte Central, 54-31, in a battle of the Southwestern A powerhouses. Butte Central is currently ranked second in the state and Hamilton is fourth. A 21 point fourth quarter broke open the game for the Maroons. Hamilton was paced by Trey Searle’s 13 points. Carson Rostad added eight more.
Darby Lost to Salmon, Idaho, on Friday, 53-45. On Saturday, they fell to Plains, 52-46.
Corvallis did not play this weekend.