The Choteau High School boys basketball team opened its 2019-20 season with a pair of nonconference wins and will play its first conference game on Thursday at home against Great Falls Central Catholic.
Choteau’s junior varsity boys will play at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday and the varsity boys will play at 7:30 p.m.
On Saturday the boys will travel to Townsend for another nonconference match-up, with junior varsity at 3:30 p.m. and the varsity game at 6:30 p.m.
Coach Austin Schilling on Monday said he expects GFCC to have a senior-heavy team that will improve with every game. Townsend always plays a tough, physical, high pressure game, and the Choteau boys will need to limit turnovers, secure rebounds and play effective defense in this game.
In practice this week, he said, the boys will focus on improving weaknesses they saw on film from the Eureka and Thompson Falls games. Schilling said he expects to focus largely on defense, making sure each boy knows the rotations and where they need to be on the court.
On offense, he said, they are going to work on improving their offensive rebounding, continuing to use their speed to open up shots, and limiting turnovers.
They will likely be playing this week without senior starting guard Kyler Crabtree who went out of the Thompson Falls game early in the third quarter after rolling his ankle badly.
Look at last week’s games, Schilling said notching two wins was a good way to start the season. He said he saw some great “flashes” during the Eureka game when, on offense, Choteau went on an eight-point run at the end of the first half and then again in the fourth quarter to put the game away. In those runs, he said, the boys were running the floor well, rebounding well and putting a lot of pressure on the ball.
In the Thompson Falls game, he said, he was pleased with how the team came together after Crabtree was injured to come from behind for the four-point win. He said Kolby Kovatch, Acton Snyder and Oliver Jorden all made big plays that helped secure the win.
In last Friday’s season opener, Choteau and Eureka, whose football team won the state championship in Class B, played very evenly in the first quarter with both teams scoring 12 points. Choteau began to pull away in the second quarter and out-scored Eureka in the second third and fourth quarters for the 62-50 win.
The Choteau boys played tough defense and worked hard to get defensive rebounds and steals that they were able to convert to points. On offense, they spread out the scoring action with five boys scoring and three of them (Snyder, Johnny Rappold and Kovatch) in double digits. Kovatch led the team in scoring on both Friday and Saturday with 22 against Eureka and 21 against Thompson Falls.
In the second game of preseason play last Saturday, the Choteau boys fell behind early, trailing by seven points after the first quarter and were still down, 22 to 31, at halftime.
They came out in the third quarter though and poured on points, outscoring Thompson Falls 23-11, taking the lead and keeping it for the rest of the game for the 60-56 win. Choteau had six boys scoring, and in addition to Kovatch, Snyder and Tony Daley were all in triple digits.
Choteau 12-17-13-20 — 62
Eureka 12-14-10-14 — 50
Choteau — Acton Snyder 4 2/2 11, Kyler Crabtree 3 2/2 8, Johnny Rappold 7 3/6 17, Tony Daley 2 0/0 4, Kolby Kovatch 8 4/6 22. Totals: 24 11/18.
Eureka — Alex Lowe 1 0/0 2, Corbin Hurst 1 0/0 3, A.J. Pacella 5 0/0 13, Gavin Bates 2 2/2 8, Cory Chaney 6 3/6 15, Joey Kindel 0 2/3 2, Jake Kindel 2 2/2 7. Totals: 17 9/15.
Fouls: Choteau 17, Eureka 14. Fouled out: Keegan Thomas. Three-point goals: Snyder, Kovatch 2, Hurst, Pacella 3, Bates 2, Jake Kindel.
Choteau 10-12-23-15 — 60
Thompson Falls 17-14-11-14 — 56
Choteau — Acton Snyder 5 0/2 11, Kyler Crabtree 3 0/0 7, Johnny Rappold 2 0/0 4, Tony Daley 3 4/5 10, Oliver Jorden 3 0/1 7, Kolby Kovatch 6 3/8 21. Totals: 22 7/16.
Thompson Falls — Sidney Akinde 2 3/4 7, Nathan Schraeder 4 1/2 11, Ryan Schraeder 1 0/0 2, Justin Morgan 1 0/0 3, Ethan Brown 1 0/0 2, Nate Wilhite 1 0/0 2, Trey Fisher 3 1/3 7, Trevor Harris 0 2/2 2, Cody Burk 9 2/4 20. Totals: 22 9/15.
Fouls: Choteau 15, Thompson Falls 19. Fouled out: Burk. Three-point goals: Snyder, Crabtree, Jorden, Kovatch 6, N. Schraeder 2, Morgan.