Herders split weekend double

After a weekend tournament away from home, the Sweet Grass County boys’ basketball team is starting to solidify its identity more and more with each passing contest.

The Herders (2-1) split a pair of games, grabbing a win against Thompson Falls 75-58, but falling to the Class B state runner-up last year in Anaconda, 59-43 on Dec. 8 and 9.

Kell Schwers led the Herders past Thompson Falls with a season-high 20 points and three assists and two steals, while Jacob Roberts pitched in 18 points and eight rebounds. Ethan Bullock had 13 points and six rebounds to assist. 

“We got out pretty big early, kind of stayed there, and they came out in the second half and made a little run,” said head coach Dan Smart. “We withstood that, but we might have overlooked them a little bit. It’s just hard to tell [this early in the season].”

Smart said the Herders had just one game worth of film on Thompson Falls, which was led by Danny Hoisington’s double-double of 24 points and 12 rebounds. With not much to go off of, the Herders had to adjust on the fly at some portions of the game.

Anaconda (2-0) proved to be a different kind of beast Saturday, when the Herders were matched up with nearly the exact same team that beat them a year ago at this same tournament. 

“We just didn’t shoot very well,” Smart said. “They’re big, tall, have long arms. It’s a little different environment than what we normally play against. They’re a good squad. They have everybody back, pretty much.”

Schwers had just eight points, five of which came from the charity stripe in the Herders’ first loss of the season. Blake Finn led the scoring with 12 points, 3-for-12 from 3-point range and 4-for-16 overall from the floor. Bullock managed 11 more points in the loss, and grabbed six boards. 

A slow start allowed the Herders a marginal 9-5 lead after the first quarter. But after Anaconda put up 21 in the second quarter, and led 26-16 at the break, there wasn’t much the Herders could do to climb back into the game.

Smart said playing in a tournament like the Three Forks one provides the team with an opportunity to strengthen fundamentals and get a better idea of where the team stands from an identity standpoint. 

“It’s good, for us anyway,” Smart said. “You go in not worried about what the other team does a whole lot, just work on what you do. And for this time of the year, is a good thing to be doing anyway. It’s good to see the competition in that tournament there. You get to see a lot of good teams if you go watch.”

Depth continued to be the strong suit for the Herders last weekend, as three bench players saw some significant playing time. As will be the case most of this season, the Herders will continue to attack on both offense and defense, knowing their depth can bail them out of any sticky foul situation. 

SGHS heads to Townsend to take on Broadwater on Dec. 15, then comes back home against Three Forks the following night, Dec. 16. The game against Broadwater is at 7:30 p.m. and the home game against Three Forks is at 5 p.m.

PHOTO CAPTION: Hayden Mosness (33) drives to the hoop, splitting some Columbus defenders in his wake during the second half of a game against Columbus on Dec. 2 in Big Timber. (Pioneer File Photo)




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