Top-ranked Dillon boys, second-seeded Lady Beavers open at Southwestern A divisionals in Friday semifinals

Dillon’s Troy Scott splits Stevensville’s Zach Gavlack and Jared Schultz during Dillon’s Senior Night battle with the Yellowjackets Friday night. Scott scored 32 points, Schultz hit for 23, and Gavlack added 14. Dillon led by 17 in the fourth quarter but lost, 62-59. J.P. Plutt photo

 

The Dillon boys and girls will enjoy a bye on Thursday at the Southwestern A Divisional basketball tournament at the Maroon Activity Center in Butte, and open action in Friday night’s semifinal round. The top-ranked Class A Beavers (16-2, 9-1) enter the tourney as the team to beat and the No. 1 seed. The Lady Beavers (11-7, 7-3) earned the No. 2 seed.

Lady Beavers set-up for title game

The Dillon Lady Beavers will await Thursday winner between No. 3 Anaconda (10-8, 6-4) and No. 6 Corvallis (5-12, 1-9). Dillon’s semifinal is scheduled for 8 p.m. Friday.

“As we look forward to the divisional tournament, we’re working hard on fundamentals and getting prepared for our next opponent,” said Dillon coach Gabe Walker. “We have confidence that our girls can go up to Butte and perform at a high level.”

Unselfish play marks the Lady Beaverstyle with four players in the Southwestern A Top 10 in assists – Jordan Peterson tied for second with 3.1 assists per game, Cierra Lamey sixth at 1.9, Courtney Linder tied for seventh at 1.8, and Audrey Schurg at ninth with 1.6.

Dillon’s average score on the season is 44.1 to 36.7. Dillon has two players in the top 10 scoring, with Lamey fifth at 9.6 points per game, and injured and out sophomore Alex Rouse eighth at 8.2.

If Dillon wins their semifinal, they will likely face Hamilton (9-0, 14-3) in the title game, Saturday at 8 p.m. Hamilton is led by Taylor Goligoski, the league’s top scorer and rebounder at 21.4 and 8.9, repectively. Jaylee Albert is a top-flight complimentary player, topping the league in assists at 4.2 per game, and fourth in scoring at 10.9. Hamilton doesn’t take a bad shot, filling the top four slots in two-point field goal accuracy.

Beavers in position for special run

During the Terry Thomas era, the Dillon Beavers have had incredible success in the post-season. In his eight previous years as head coach, Dillon has won three state “A” championships, placed second once and third once, and advanced but failed to place once. On the two occasions Dillon didn’t qualify for state they boasted records of 17-5 and 15-5, but fell to the dreaded bracket nemesis of landing on the No. 2/No. 3 side, losing the semifinal, and not getting a challenge game opportunity. Last year Dillon lost their semifinal in triple overtime.

As the top-ranked team in the state, and the top seed at divisional, the Beavers played themselves away from that land mine.

“It is a reward for having a great regular season,” admitted Thomas. “The kids did a great job of going one game at a time and focusing on that particular team. Night in and night out we could count on their intensity on defense.”

Dillon will focus on the winner of No. 4 Corvallis/No. 5 Hamilton when they take the court Friday afternoon at 12:30 p.m. for their semifiinal game. A win sends them to the title game Saturday at 6:30 p.m. Facing the trap on the other side of the bracket are No. 2 seed Butte Central (15-3, 8-2) and No. 3 seed and defending state A champion Stevensville (11-7, 7-3). Central owns two wins over the Yellowjackets and will be playing on their home court. 

Dillon’s only losses on the season were to then No. 1 AA Helena Capital and Stevensville. The Beavers defeated Butte Central in both meetings.

“It is an interesting match-up between those two teams because (Central’s) Kale Guldseth has the quickness to offset a little bit the ability of Jared Schultz from Stevensville,” said Thomas. “Schultz is a four year starter, one of the best players in the state, and can score from anywhere on the floor. To have an athlete like Guldseth that can stay between Schultz and the basket, has great quickness and is used to playing man-to-man, that’s pretty good match-up for both teams.”

Thomas also feels Butte Central has the size in the post to match-up with Stevi’s talented post Zach Gavlak. Schultz and Gavlack are second and third in the league scoring behind Dillon’s Troy Scott (21.1 points per game).

Should Stevensville beat Anaconda on Thursday, their semifinal will be at 6:30 p.m. Friday.

“Therin lies the challenge and the danger of our tournament every year,” explained Thomas. “You only take two (to state) and there are three really good teams and a couple of sleepers waiting for someone to falter. It is very important that we focus on the winner of Hamilton-Corvallis and if we are fortunate enough to advance to the championship then that gives us two opportunities to go to state (winning the title or potential challenge game.”