The Choteau High School boys basketball team lost two conference games on the road last week and will be working hard in practice this week to prepare for playing Great Falls Central Catholic and Broadwater County.
The Bulldogs are now 7-3 overall and 3-3 in conference for a fourth-place conference ranking at the halfway point of the season.
Choteau will travel to Great Falls on Jan. 24 for a junior varsity game at 4:30 p.m. and a varsity game at 7:30 p.m. On Jan. 25, the Bulldogs will host Townsend/Broadwater County High School with the junior varsity at 2:30 p.m. and varsity at 5:30 p.m.
Coach Austin Schilling on Monday said the boys had a tough weekend and are disappointed with their fourth-place ranking in the standings. Schilling said the team will work in practice this week to improve their offense as they gear up to be more competitive in the second half of the season.
Choteau beat GFCC and Townsend handily in the first half of the season but couldn’t carry that momentum into their games against Shelby, Fairfield and Rocky Boy in recent weeks. Choteau has defeated Conrad, GFCC and Cut Bank in conference play but has lost to Shelby, Fairfield and Rocky Boy.
Schilling said he will be asking the boys for 110 percent in practice and on the court as the season moves forward. He hopes they can build momentum in the next couple of weeks with solid wins, keep improving in practice every week and play Shelby, Fairfield and Rocky Boy more competitively in the second half of the season.
Against GFCC, Schilling said, he wants the Choteau boys to do a better job of capitalizing on turnovers and to be able to match the GFCC players’ athleticism. He said the Choteau boys need to do a great job of defensive rebounding.
While Choteau beat Townsend by around 20 points in their first meeting, Schilling said he expects to see a much-improved team that has momentum coming off a big win over the Jefferson County Panthers. “We need to get out and run, be on the attack and play with effort,” he said.
In both losses last week, the Choteau boys had long stretches where they could not get on the scoreboard. They played hard in other parts of each game but couldn’t dig out from under the other team’s big lead.
The Bulldogs ended their first quarter against Fairfield up, 17-16, but couldn’t get their offense clicking in the next two quarters as Fairfield outscored them 21-12 in the second quarter and 21-14 in the third quarter. Choteau rallied and put up 25 points to Fairfield’s 27 in the fourth quarter but lost the game, 85-68.
Schilling said the Choteau boys executed their plan on defense but Fairfield was able to have a few other players hit key shots for the win.
Kolby Kovatch led the Bulldogs in scoring with 22 points and the boys made 71 percent of their free throws.
Against Rocky Boy, Choteau’s offense was stagnant during the first half as they just couldn’t get anything to drop. Rocky Boy led 39-11 at halftime. In the second half, Choteau’s boys got their offense clicking and put up 54 points to Rocky Boy’s 46, but they couldn’t overcome their first half deficit and lost, 87-65.
In the second half of that game, the boys “really played the way I wanted them to play,” Schilling said.
Johnny Rappold had 22 points in the game to lead the Bulldogs and the boys made 73 percent of their free throws. Rocky Boy made an astounding 85 percent of their free throws, putting up 22 points out of 26 attempts at the charity stripe.
Choteau 17-12-14-25 — 68
Fairfield 16-21-21-27 —85
Choteau — Acton Snyder 5 5/6 16, Gage Cummings 0 1/2 1, Kyler Crabtree 7 0/0 17, Johnny Rappold 0 1/2 1, Brady Armstrong 1 0/0 2, Tony Daley 4 1/3 9, Kolby Kovatch 8 4/4 22. Totals: 25 12/17.
Fairfield — Gaice Blackwell 4 0/0 8, Conor Murray 7 0/0 16, Keeley Bake 5 2/2 13, Guidry Giles 4 0/1 12, Gavin Mills 2 0/0 4, Daniel Faith 2 5/6 9, Owen Cartwright 1 0/0 2, Brayden Kolwyck 1 0/0 2, Kaelob Flores 7 5/7 19. Totals: 33 12/16.
Fouls: Fairfield 14, Choteau 14. Fouled out: none. Technical fouls: Choteau bench. Three-point goals: Murray 2, Bake, Giles 4, Snyder, Crabtree 3, Kovatch 2.
Choteau 5-6-28-26 — 65
Rocky Boy 15-24-17-28 — 87
Choteau — Acton Snyder 6 0/0 12, Kyler Crabtree 3 2/2 9, Johnny Rappold 9 4/6 22, Tony Daley 1 2/3 4, Oliver Jorden 1 0/0 3, Jacob Brewster 1 0/0 2, Kolby Kovatch 5 3/4 13. Totals: 26 11/15.
Rocky Boy — Joe Demontiney 6 2/2 15, Sean Gibson 2 2/2 6, Wyatt Caplette 8 3/4 20, Nocona Limberhand 4 2/2 13, Blake Cantrell 7 12/14 27, Jo Jo Standingrock 2 1/2 6. Totals: 29 22/26.
Fouls: Choteau 15, Rocky Boy 14. Fouled out: Daley. Three-point goals: Crabtree, Jorden, Demontiney, Caplette, Limberhand 3, Cantrell, Standingrock.