Friday, January 21, 2022

Whitefish hoopsters split games at Tip-Off Tourney

Whitefish Pilot | December 15, 2021 1:00 AM

Though the Bulldogs upped their defense in the second half against Frenchtown on Saturday, Whitefish could not close the gap and narrowly fell to the Broncs 46-41.

On the first day of the tournament Whitefish handedly beat East Helena, 70-42. The Bulldogs are now 2-1 overall.

Strong play from seniors Talon Holmquist and Bodie Smith continue to lead the Dogs as the pair teamed up for 30 of Whitefish’s 70 points against the Vigilantes. Against Frenchtown Holmquist put in 18 while Smith contributed 9 points.

Throughout the tournament Whitefish head coach Scott Smith thought his team played well overall, especially on the defensive end.

Against Frenchtown in particular, the Bulldogs found themselves down 31-20 at halftime. They were struggling to find the bottom of the basket, but also the man-to-man coverage was in trouble with the Broncs’ size inside. In the third quarter Whitefish switched to a 2-3 zone coverage and started crawling its way back into the game.

“We had our opportunities, we just could not close the gap,” Smith recalled. “We missed some shots, we were not very good from the free throw line, 10 of 20, so that hurt us.”

“In the end they came out on top, but overall we outplayed them in the second half, we just couldn’t find the bucket,” he added.

Whitefish’s Logan Conklin was the only one to bury a 3-pointer, while Frenchtown managed to put away three shots beyond the arc.

Though the Dogs struggled offensively, the defense played in the second half was a highlight for Smith.

“As a defensive group in the second half our whole team played extremely well against Frenchtown,” he said.

On Friday Whitefish kicked off tournament play against East Helena and got off to a hot start, leading 33-22 at the end of two quarters. Whitefish allowed the Vigilanties to hang around with an 18-point third quarter, but the Bulldogs finally sealed the deal in the fourth.

“We jumped out to an early lead then we got a little complacent there against East Helena and let them climb back in it,” Smith said. “In the end we pulled away, I thought we played pretty well… Our subs toward the end of the game did a great job of just running the offense and playing defense.”

Conklin and Highland Lee-French both had the touch from the outside, knocking down a few 3-pointers each. Conklin tallied 9 points while Lee-French had 8. Fynn Ridgeway also contributed 8 points with most of them coming in the first quarter.

Whitefish has three games left before the holiday break including a conference matchup with Ronan. Smith says the goal is to head into the break on a three-game winning streak, but will mainly focus on their first game with the Chiefs as they want to get conference play off to a good start.

“Just number one is getting three wins in a row going into the break, and being 5-1 is what our goal is,” he said. “But we’re taking one game at a time and our primary focus is on Ronan.”

Whitefish plays in Ronan on Thursday. The Bulldogs will host Corvallis at WHS on Friday beginning at 7:15 p.m. and then play in Cut Bank on Monday.

Whitefish x 33 15 22 - 70

E. Helena x 12 18 12 - 42

WHITEFISH — Highland Lee-French 8, Bodie Smith 14, Jaxsen Schlauch 5, Logan Conklin 9, Jack Sears 3, Fynn Ridgeway 8, Gabe Lund 5, Talon Holmquist 14.

EAST HELENA — Colter Charlesworth 12, Kaden Sager 20, Tucker Petty 2, Koby Mergenthaler 8.

Whitefish 11 9 13 8 - 41

Frenchtown 17 14 9 6 - 46

FRENCHTOWN — Kellen Klimpel 7, Sully Belcourt 9, Keaton Simpson 2, Connor Michaud 4, Devin Shelton 12, Eli Quinn 12

WHITEFISH — Bodie Smith 9, Jaxsen Schlauch 2, Logan Conklin 3, Gabe Lund 9, Talon Holmquist 18

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