The Wildcats battled through some tough games to earn the 12-C District third place trophy. PHOTO COURTESY ANDREA CHRISTENSEN

Harrison Wildcat boys grind their way to Divisionals

Valley Christian set as their next opponent

Harrison battled its way through district play last week, racking up the necessary wins to advance to Divisional tournaments starting Feb. 26.

The third-seed Wildcats hosted the sixth-seed West Yellowstone team on Feb. 18. Head Coach Zach Murphy said his boys played very well throughout – securing a 71-34 win to keep them in the race. Luke Cima led his team in scoring with 21 points.

The next day the Wildcats hit the road to take on second-seed Twin Bridges. The Friday game was a bit tougher for the team. Coach Murphy said his boys started out strong against Twin, but their defense took advantage of a few things Harrison doesn’t do well, “and that allowed them to score on the other end, they don’t have to work hard against our defense,” he said. “We’re building on that, because if you allow them easy buckets it’s no good for us.”

Friday’s final score was a loss for Harrison, 57-36.

Their playoff path didn’t end there, though. Saturday welcomed Shields Valley to Harrison for the 3 versus 5 seed matchup. The boys were tired, but Coach Murphy said they played well against a really good team. Nice plays in the second half helped Harrison pull away from the competition. Late in the game Shields pressed Harrison, creating turnovers that almost cost the game – a 12-point game was quickly sliced to a three-point game.

“That was fine, we are going to make mistakes, but we just found a way to grind through it,” said Murphy. “That’s kind of been our motto all year, just keep grinding and grind through it.”

That extra grind allowed the boys to secure the win, 50-44. Cima once again led in points, this time with 18. Jackson Nye and Andrew Bacon both had 12 points apiece.

Harrison heads to Deer Lodge on Feb. 25 for the start of the district tournament. They’re up against 13C Valley Christian. Coach Murphy said he was unfamiliar with the team, but it’s actually been a nice year as far as scouting goes with the addition of the NSHS cameras which open up games to watch remotely.

Valley Christian film showed Coach Murphy that it’s an athletic team, with a 6’5” player, as well as other bigger players that can shoot – they made 16 three-pointers against Phillipsburg this season, “so they’re capable,” said Murphy. “I like our matchup against them, because they don’t do things that other teams do that give us fits, like Twin and Manhattan Christian with different presses and zones.”

Looking to state, Murphy said there are a lot of good teams, “it’s a gauntlet to make the state tournament in C, they take 78 teams, and take two weeks to knock it down to eight.”

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