Undefeated #1 Beavers clinch top tourney seed

By 
J.P. Plutt
Wednesday, February 17, 2021
D is the key

Dillon’s man defense limited open shots versus Frenchtown last Thursday at B.W. Lodge Gymnasium. The Beavers pulled away late to post a 41-34 win. The undefeated Beavers improved to 13-0 with a win at Hamilton on Saturday. In the photo, Connor Curnow guards all, with Jonathan Kirkley (24) and Cole Truman on their men in the background. J.P. Plutt photo

With a week still left in the regular season, the Dillon Beavers improved to 13-0 with a pair of conference wins and better yet, clinched the top seed for the Southwestern A at the Western A Divisional Tournament at Butte, Feb. 25-27.

In a pair of start to finish battles, Dillon edged Frenchtown, 41-34 at Dillon last Thursday, and then held off Hamilton, 43-41, Saturday on the road.

In both games, Dillon did not light up the scoreboard or impress with high shooting percentages, but won the games with their trademark this season –relentless hard work and hustle.

“We’re getting the other teams’ best effort so that is awesome and they are certainly getting our best effort,” said Dillon coach Terry Thomas of the competitive nature of the two games. “Our kids made enough plays to win, so we’re proud of that. It is important to be able to get into the fourth quarter in a close game and be able to grind it out to be able to win.”

Thomas added that when Dillon’s opportunistic defense is not forcing turnovers that result in easy buckets, his team has to be able to break down the opposition with half-court defense.

Adding extra possessions with rebounding was pointed at by Thomas as the key statistic in both wins last week. Dillon’s monster on the boards continues to be junior Connor Curnow, a 6-3 post. Curnow led Dillon with a combined 18 rebounds in the two games, sometimes giving Dillon a second or third possession off the offensive glass.

Dillon wraps up the regular season with a Tuesday night conference game at Corvallis, and then a big non-conference battle with Lewistown (9-4) from the Eastern A on Thursday night. The Senior Night contest will honor Jonny Reiser, Daxon Graham, Cole Truman and Jace Fitzgerald.

The importance of a top two seed allows the Beavers to skip the Monday (Feb. 22) play-in games between the bottom four teams in each of the two, six-team divisions that make up the Western A. Dillon’s divisional tourney is already set with evening games at the Butte Civic Center each night as long as they continue to win. Dillon would open the tourney on Thursday (Feb. 25) at 7 p.m., and then play at 7 on Friday and 8 on Saturday if they continue to win.

DILLON 43, HAMILTON 41

Dillon scoring – Jonny Reiser 0, Daxon Graham 4, Eli Nourse 0, Tyler Lagunas 3, Cole Truman 13, Jonathan Kirkley 8, Connor Curnow 3, Callahan Hoffman 2, Jace Fitzgerald 13.

Halftime – 18-17, Dillon. Dillon three-pointers (4-11) – Truman 3-6, Curnow 0-2, Fitzgerald 1-3. Rebounds (25) – Curnow 10, Kirkley 7. Steals (5) – Graham 3. Assists (7) – Fitzgerald 2. Turnovers (7). Blocks (4) – Truman 2.FRENCH- TOWN 34, DILLON 41

Dillon scoring – Jonny Reiser 0, Daxon Graham 0, Eli Nourse 0, Cole Truman 4, Jonathan Kirkley 7, Connor Curnow 16, Callahan Hoffman 4, Jace Fitzgerald 10.

Halftime – 24-19, Dillon. Dillon three-pointers (2-10) – Graham 0-2, Truman 0-2, Kirkley 0-1, Curnow 0-1, Fitzgerald 2-4. Rebounds (23) – Curnow 8, Kirkley 6. Steals (9) – Kirkley 3. Assists (8) – Kirkley 3, Curnow 3. Turnovers (9). Blocks (4) – Truman 2, Curnow 1, Kirkley 1.

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