Bulldogs battle back from Fergus loss to qualify for state
Thu, 03/02/2017 - 5:00am admin
By Jim Eshleman, Big Horn County News
The Hardin Bulldog boys basketball team is headed to state after taking fourth place in the combined Eastern/Central A last week at the Rimrock Auto Arena in Billings.
For the Bulldogs, they needed to take the long way around to qualify for state action after losing their first game to Lewistown by 2 points. Because of this loss, they needed to win in three loser-out games to get into the match for third and fourth place.
On their way, they defeated Livingston, Sidney and Browning before falling to Billings Central for their fourth place finish. The top four teams from divisional play go to state.
Hardin’s first game was last Wednesday, where they played the Fergus County Golden Eagles in a game where their first-quarter advantage was taken in the second.
In the first half, Hardin outscored the Eagles 21-13, but it was the third period that got away from the Bulldogs. Hardin gave up 23 points, tying up the game 36-36 going into the fourth. The game ended on a 46-48 loss for the Bulldogs.
Virgil McCormick led the Bulldogs in scoring with 18, followed by Darnell Lefthand with 11.
From this point on, for Hardin, it was either win or be sent home.
Hardin’s second game on Thursday was with the Park County Rangers from Livingston.
Against the Rangers, it was a whole different deal. The Bulldogs came out scoring and never looked back. They took an 11-point lead at the end of the first period, increased it to 22 points and started the third period with the score of 46-24. The Bulldogs put up another 24 points in the third and fourth quarter, giving them a 71-48 victory.
McCormick again led Hardin in scoring with 23 points, followed by Lefthand with 12, Malik Toure with 8, Famous Lefthand and Konnolly Shane with 6, and Steffan Walks Over Ice, Holman Real Bird, and David Evans each with 4.
Darnell Lefthand led Hardin in rebounds with 17.
In play against the Sidney Eagles, it was again a win-or-be-sent-home affair and the Bulldogs put in a solid first half, taking a 37-18 lead against the Eagles. While Sidney closed the gap a bit in the third, the Bulldogs pulled ahead again with a solid 65-51 victory.
Famous Lefthand led Hardin in scoring with 17 points, followed by Darnell Lefthand with 14 and McCormick with 12. David Evan put up 10 and Real Bird, Shane and Andrew House each had 4.
At this point, the Bulldogs needed one more victory to make it to state. Hardin, on Saturday morning, took that victory from the Browning Indians.
Against the Indians, it was Bulldogs all the way as they jumped out to an 11-point first-quarter lead. They increased their lead to 20 points going into the half and, by the end of the third period, Hardin was ahead by 30 points with the score being 67-36. This placed them in the consolation round, where they played for third place.
Hardin had their best shooting percentage game of the tournament at 49 percent from the field.
The Bulldogs were led in scoring by Famous Lefthand with 19, followed by Darnell Lefthand with 17, Walks Over Ice 8, Shane 7 and House 6.
Hardin played Billings Central for third, losing to the Rams 45-30 for fourth place and a trip to the state tournament at the Butte Civic Center.
The Bulldogs will start the tournament with a match against Dillon on Thursday, March 9.