By George Ferguson/Havre Daily News Sportsfirstname.lastname@example.org
The Harlem Wildcats won't be back at the Class B boys state basketball tournament this season. After an opening-round loss to Fairfield on Thursday, the Wildcats finished one game shy of the consolation game this past weekend at the Northern B boys divisional basketball tournament in Cut Bank.
Harlem rebounded nicely from its loss to Fairfield by knocking off Shelby, 60-50, in loser-out action Friday afternoon. The Wildcats jumped out to an 18-11 lead before the Coyotes stormed back to trail by just one point at the half, 28-27.
After a tightly contested third quarter, Harlem broke the game open for good by outscoring Shelby, which is coached by former Havre High standout Tom Reynolds, 19-13 in the final stanza.
The Wildcats were pushed to victory by Neeko Bigby's career-high 26 points, which included a pair of 3-pointers. Bigby got help from Wilbur Bigby, who scored 11 points and Rick Haluszka, who added 10. Shelby was paced by Trey Wanty's 15 points in the loss.
The win over the Coyotes pushed Harlem into another loser-out meeting on Saturday morning against District 2B rival Poplar. And the Indians raced away from Harlem, 89-72, putting an end to the Wildcats' season.
Poplar scored 29 points in a frenzied second period, which put it ahead 46-33 at halftime. The Indians never trailed in the second half on their way to the 17-point victory.
Harlem was also done in by the outstanding performance of Kyle Four Bear, who scored a game-high 29 points and 14 rebounds. Jessie Daniels added 14 points, as five Indians reached double figures in the scoring column. Haluszka led Harlem with 16 points and Charles Rider added 14 points in the Wildcats' season finale.
Poplar went on to lose to Glasgow in Saturday's consolation game, while Fairfield edged 1B rival Cut Bank in the championship. Fairfield (21-0) is now headed to the state tournament, while Cut Bank will play Glasgow in a challenge game tonight in Chinook.
Poplar 89 Harlem 72 (lo)
Harlem 13 20 14 25 - 72
Poplar 17 29 22 21 - 89
Harlem - Miles Werk 4, Neeko Bigby 3, Monty Snow 5, Charles Rider 14, Craig Adams 7, Eddie Moore 12, Bruce Byrd 4, Lance Ironchild 4, Wilbur Bigby 3, Rick Haluszka 16. Totals 26 16-23 72.
Poplar - Arthur Chapman 4, Wyatt Atkinson 10, Jake Reidiger 2, Steve Barr 12, Kyle Four Bear 29, Brandon Lezard 5, Griffin Ricker 13, Jessie Daniels 14. Totals 28 30-46.
Team Fouls - Harlem 30, Poplar 19. Fouled out - N. Bigby, Snow, Haluszka, Crantz. 3-point goals - Atkinson, Ricker, Daniels, N. Bigby, Rider 2, Moore.
Harlem 60 Shelby 50
Shelby 11 16 10 13 -50
Harlem 18 10 13 19 -60
Shelby - Nathan Mayernik 7, Zach Mayernik 10, Shane Clark 11, Bryon Moore 2, Trey Wanty 15, Kevin Steiner 2, Jorden Weishaar 3, Derek Sisk 1. Totals 14 18-29.
Harlem - Neeko Bigby 26, Monty Snow 5, Charles Rider 3, Craig Adams 2, Lance Ironchild 3, Wilbur Bigby 11, Rick Haluszka 10. Totals 19 18-21.
Team fouls - Shelby 18, Harlem 22. Fouled out - Z. Mayernik, Adams. 3-point goals - Z. Mayernik 3, Wanty, N. Bigby 2, Rider, W. Bigby.