The Plains boys basketball teamís journey to the Western Class-C Divisional Tournament at Butte Central wasnít an easy road.
The Horseman, who held the dubious distinction of being ranked No. 1 in Montana Class-C earlier in the season, had to defeat and avenge their biggest rival, Hot Springs, last Monday in the Western Class-C District Challenge game at the Ronan High School Events Center.
Despite being ranked No. 1, the majority of the early portion of the season, before the balance of power shifted with a loss 82-59 loss to Arlee on Jan. 27, Plains had the unenviable task of playing Manhattan Christian in the first round of Divisionals.
Early in the first quarter, the Horseman struggled to find their rhythm against the tall and experienced squad.
At the conclusion of the first quarter, Plains found themselves trailing as the Eagles took a commanding 20-8 lead.
Plains eventually adjusted and trailed only 33-26 at the half.
In the third period, the Horseman were still unable to keep pace with the Eaglesí potent offensive attack. At the conclusion of the third quarter, the Horseman trailed 50-40.
Despite amassing 26 points in the fourth quarter, Plains was unable to contain Manhattan Christianís scoring barrage. The Eagles scored 30 points in the fourth quarter to secure the victory and advance in the tournament for the inevitable showdown with the Arlee Warriors. The Eagles and the Warriors championship matchup in the Class-C Divisionals was the third consecutive time the teams have played each other this season.
In the loss, the Horseman were led by Ryan Ovitt, who scored 19 points, Jay VonHeeder scored 16, Alec Cole scored 13. Other contributors included Kyle Weeks with five, Tanner Ovitt with five, Aaren VonHeeder with four, and Sam Rehbein scored two.
The Horseman struggled to contain three of the Eaglesí key contributors. James Ramirez finished with 19, Parker Dyksterhouse had 17, and Joey Lodine finished with 16.
Plains 69, Lincoln 57
The Plains Horseman were able to recover from their loss against Manhattan Christian with a 69-57 victory over Lincoln.
Plains generated plenty of offense in the first half scoring 39 points to lead 39-32 at halftime against Lincoln.
The Horseman were able to outscore Lincoln in three of the four quarters.
Plains got contributions from three of its starters landing in double figures including Ryan Ovitt, who scored 19, Alec Cole scored 14, and Kyle Weeks finished with 13. Other contributors included Aaren VonHeeder and Jay VonHeeder each scoring eight, Sam Rehbein scored four, and Tanner Ovitt finished with three.
Ennis 52, Plains 46
Plains was unable to stay alive in the stacked Montana Class-C State Divisional Tournament with a 52-46 loss to Ennis.
At the conclusion of the first quarter, the Horseman were tied with Ennis but then a scoring drought in the second quarter hurt them going into halftime.
Plains scored a total of only nine points in the second quarter, which allowed Ennis to gain a 29-22 lead headed into halftime.
The Horsemanís defense clamped down in the third quarter and allowed Ennis to score only seven points but was unable to generate offense of their own. The Horseman scored only eight points themselves in the third quarter.
Ennis was able to match the Horsemanís offensive surge in the fourth quarter point-for-point. The Mustangs and Horseman combined for a total of 16 points each in the fourth quarter.
Ryan Ovitt accounted for nearly half of Plainsí offensive production scoring 27 points in the contest. Aeren VonHeeder finished with nine, Jay VonHeeder scored six, and Kyle Weeks and Alec Cole finished with two points each.
The Mustangs had contributions from Jake Knack, 21 and Gavin McKitrick, 14. Those were the only two players that finished in double figures.
The Horseman finished their season with a 20-5 record. Until their 82-59 loss to Arlee in the thirteenth game of the season, Plains was undefeated and held the No. 1 ranking in Montana State Class-C.