The Bulldogs ended last week on a high note, taking down Corvallis at home for a 47-34 victory.
After a slow first quarter for both teams, Whitefish exploded in the second quarter, outscoring the Blue Devils 20-5 to take a 26-11 lead at the half.
Corvallis wasn’t done, however. They poured in 14 points in the third quarter to the Dogs’ five, bringing the lead to 31-25.
The Dogs held on in the fourth, stretching the lead back out to 13 to finish the game.
Bodie Smith was the team’s high scorer with 11, while Sam Menicke added 10 of his own.
Head coach Scott Smith said it was the team defense that impressed him the most in the win.
“I saw defense from all five kids all game long, whoever was on the floor,” he said. “The effort was there and the intensity was there.”
That win came off a tough loss earlier in the week, when Ronan beat Whitefish 54-51 at home.
The Dogs came out hot in that game, nailing four three-pointers in the opening quarter to build a 22-12 lead.
The lead held through the second and third quarters, with Whitefish leading by as much as 11 midway through the third quarter.
But a Ronan run cut the deficit down to just 44-37 heading into the fourth.
Whitefish held on to the lead until there were just 29 seconds remaining. Tied 51-51, the Bulldogs committed a turnover off a timeout and sent Ronan to the free throw line, giving them a two-point lead.
The Dogs had a chance to answer with 17 seconds left and the ball, but another turnover led to a Ronan free throw. The Chiefs secured the offensive rebound on the second free throw to give Ronan the win.
Justin Conklin had the hot hand for Whitefish, pouring in 17 points. Smith and Menicke both added eight.
Smith said Ronan just seemed to get hot at a time when his team cooled down.
“I think they just wanted it more. It boils back to the same stuff [as all year], the little things. Turnovers here and there, missing a box out,” Smith said. “We’ve got to finish games. We got up and it seems like we have a little bit of a lull and we allow a team to go on a run and we can’t close out.”
The Ronan loss was just another in a season of close games that ended in the other team’s favor. For the Bulldogs, had a few games gone the other way they could be looking at a top three seed in the Western A Divisional tournament at the end of the month, rather than their current position of clawing up from the sixth seed.
The team is working on closing things out when they need to, Smith says, and he’s hoping most of the future close game situations won’t be coming as a surprise.
“We’ve been doing a ton of situations. We’ve been through every situation we’ve faced, say 17 seconds left and the ball is on this part of the floor, so when we get to those situations it’s not the first time they’ve done that. As far as finishing games, we can’t get complacent,” Smith said. “We play good for two quarters and for the other two quarters we fall asleep. It just seems like inconsistency between games has cost us.”
Whitefish has just one game this week, a Friday-night home battle against Stevensville. That starts at 7:30 p.m.
Smith said the team is similar to his in terms of how their season has fared out.
“They’re a younger team. Right now they’re sitting in the same place we are in our division. We have to come out and be ready to play, and if we play like we did against Corvallis, things will take care of themselves,” he said.
Whitefish 22 10 12 7 — 51
Ronan 12 11 14 17 — 54
WHITEFISH — Justin Conklin 17, Bodie Smith 8, Sam Menicke 8, Talon Holmquist 7, Garret Breck 6, Jayce Cripe 3, Danny Davis 2.
Corvallis 6 5 14 9 — 34
Whitefish 6 20 5 16 — 47
WHITEFISH: Bodie Smith 11; Sam Menicke 10; Justin Conklin 9; Talon Holmquist 7; Jayce Cripe 8; Jaxsen Schlauch 2