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Whitefish boys bounced in divisional play-in game

by BRANDON HANSEN For the Pilot
| February 21, 2024 12:00 AM

Whitefish fought tooth and nail all season, and its final game of the season was no different.

Facing off against a Ronan team that the Bulldogs had both beaten and lost to in this regular season, the play-in matchup for the right to advance to the main divisional tournament was a battle.

A late run by the Chiefs, however, allowed Ronan to advance past the play-in stage of the Western A Divisional Tournament with a 52-35 victory over Whitefish on Saturday, Feb. 18, in Polson.

“Extremely proud of the team, disappointed we didn’t make it to divisionals,” Whitefish Head Coach Alex Gonzalez said. “I am, however, proud of our boys. I believe that’s how it goes sometimes. It’s a learning experience for them and some of the younger guys. I felt they never backed down and were ready for the test no matter who the opponent was. I believe our defense was the key.”

Momentum shifted multiple times during the game. Ronan led 12-7 early, but the Bulldogs battled back to lead 19-18 at halftime. Ronan took a three-point lead in the third quarter and then finished the game with a 20-6 run. During that run, Chief Marlo Tonasket scored all of his 14 points.

Mason Kelch and Mason Genovese led Whitefish with 10 points apiece, while Carson Gulick had eight.

“I felt once Carson Gulick got injured that was the turning point,” Gonzalez said. “We had issues with our defense. Our shots weren’t falling, unfortunately.”

Ronan improved its record to 12-8 on the year and will play Hamilton in the Western A Divisional opener in Butte. Whitefish finished the season 11-9.

“We had an amazing season couldn’t be more proud of these young men,” Gonzalez said. “I feel extremely fortunate to have coached Mason Genovese , Mason Kelch, Carson Krack and Dane Hunt.”

Gonzalez added that the Bulldogs will have a different next year, with some changes in height on the team. He said that if his players put in the work over the summer, the future looks extremely bright for Whitefish.

“I believe we have a great group of kids that are eager to step up and prepare,” Gonzalez said.

At Polson

RONAN 52, WHITEFISH 35

Whitefish - 7 - 12 - 10 - 6 - 35

Ronan - 12 - 6 - 14 - 20 - 52

RONAN SCORING - Marlo Tonasket 14, Ted Coffman 9, Kolby Finley 8, Laurance Lozeau 6, DaVonne Curley 4, Josiah Misa 3

WHITEFISH SCORING - Mason Kelch 10, Mason Genovese 10, Carson Gulick 8, Carson Krack 4, CJ Thew 2, Scotty Dalen 1

Whitefish ends Polson’s season

Playing each other for the second time in less than a week, Whitefish again defeated Polson, but this time it was for keeps. 

The Bulldogs notched a 53-42 victory during Western A Conference Tournament play-in action on Thursday, Feb. 15. It ended Polson’s season while keeping Whitefish alive in the postseason.

Whitefish built a 16-7 lead in the first quarter and led 28-19 at halftime. The Bulldogs added four more points to their lead in the third en route to their victory.

Mason Kelch had 18 points for the Bulldogs, while Carson Krack added 16 points.

Anthony Lichtenberg led the Pirates with 18 points, and Brenden Griffin added 11 points to Polson’s efforts. The Pirates finished the season with a 2-17 record and a 1-12 conference mark.

At Whitefish

WHITEFISH 53, POLSON 42

Polson - 7 - 12 - 12 - 11 - 42

W-Fish - 16 - 12 - 16 - 9 - 53

WHITEFISH SCORING - Mason Kelch 18, Carson Krack 16, Carson Gulick 7, CJ Thew 6, Ryan Conklin 4, Mason Genovese 2

POLSON SCORING - Anthony Lichtenberg 18, Brenden Griffin 11, Maddon Bird 6, Cason Graham 3, Jesse Vail 2, Ezra Fasthorse 2