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State C boys: Lustre Christian, Manhattan Christian, Harlowton-Ryegate and Box Elder earn first-round wins

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Posted at 6:22 PM, Mar 06, 2024

GREAT FALLS — The Class C boys basketball state tournament tipped off Wednesday inside Four Seasons Arena with four first-round games.

Lustre Christian defeated Melstone 51-44 in the opener, and Manhattan Christian held off Winnett-Grass Range 61-58 in the second game. In the late first-round games, Harlowton-Ryegate rallied past Plentywood 51-39 and Box Elder handled Harrison 76-59.

Watch highlights from all four games in the videos above.

PHOTOS: FIRST ROUND OF THE STATE C BOYS TOURNAMENT IN GREAT FALLS

Lustre Christian 51, Melstone 44

Johnslee Pierre scored 30 points and the Lustre Christian Lions are heading to the State C semifinals for the first time in school history after a 51-44 win over Melstone.

Pierre was electric on Wednesday. The 6-foot-5 sophomore from the Bahamas hit 4-of-7 3-point attempts and threw down several highlight reel breakaway dunks. Cam Reddig joined Pierre in double-figure scoring with 10 points for the Lions.

Lustre led throughout the game and pushed the lead to 13 in the third quarter behind an onslaught of points from Pierre. But the Broncs stormed back behind sophomore stars Nolan Kamerman and Tucker Keller to cut the lead to two points in the fourth quarter. That’s when Pierre recorded a pair of back-to-back dunks to create distance and help ice the game.

Kamerman led Melstone with 18 points while Tucker added 12, all in the second half.

Last year, Lustre Christian was undefeated entering the 2023 State C tournament but fell to Big Sandy in the first round. Now the Lions are semifinal bound and will advance to face Manhattan Christian in the semifinals on Thursday night. The Broncs will face Winnett-Grass Range in the consolation bracket.

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Lustre Christian beat Melstone 51-44 in the first round of the State C tournament.

Manhattan Christian 61, Winnett-Grass Range 58

The two-time defending Class C champion (1W) Manhattan Christian Eagles eked out a 61-58 win over (2N) Winnett-Grass Range in the first round of the state tournament.

Manhattan Christian led comfortably for most of the game, but the Rams shot their way back into the game in the fourth quarter, cutting the lead to two in the final minute. A potential game-tying 3 from Brady Bantz was off the mark, and the Eagles breathed a sigh of relief — earning a spot in the State C semifinals for the eighth consecutive year.

The Eagles had three players reach double figures. Carter Van Dyken led the team with 13 points while Christian Triemstra and Rance Hamilton added 12 and 11 points, respectively. Brady Bantz had 22 points to lead the Rams, with his brother Jace Bantz adding 15 points and 10 rebounds.

Manhattan Christian earns a matchup with (1E) Lustre Christian in the semifinals at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday. Winnett-Grass Range, making its first state appearance since 2009, will face (2S) Melstone at 9 a.m.

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Manhattan Christian eked out a 61-58 win over Winnett-Grass Range in the first round of the State C tournament.

Harlowton-Ryegate 51, Plentywood 39

Kenyan Davis scored 24 points and the Harlowton-Ryegate Engineers overcame a slow start to defeat Plentywood 51-39 in the first round of the State C tournament.

Points were at a premium in the first quarter, with Harlowton leading 9-8 after the first eight minutes. The Wildcats opened up an eight-point lead in the second quarter before the Engineers closed the gap, trailing 21-20 at halftime.

Davis scored at will, converting 10 of 17 shots from the field. Bergen Mysse joined Davis in double figures with 12 points in the win. Carson Solberg led the Wildcats with 22 points. Plentywood made just 15 total field goals in the game, shooting at a 33.3% clip.

The Engineers will move on to the semifinals where they’ll face undefeated Box Elder at 8 p.m. on Thursday. Plentywood heads to the consolation bracket to take on Harrison.

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Harlowton-Ryegate pulled away from Plentywood for a 51-39 win at the State C tournament.

Box Elder 76, Harrison 59

Tracen Jilot had a virtuoso performance in Wednesday’s State C opener, leading undefeated (1N) Box Elder to a 76-59 win over (2W) Harrison.

Jilot stuffed the stat sheet with 25 points, six rebounds, five assists, three steals and two blocks. Tuarie Stiffarm-Rosette added 18 points, while Dreyden Anderson pitched in with 17 in the win.

Box Elder’s full court press was stifling in the first quarter, as the Bears jumped out to a 22-9 lead over Harrison. The Wildcats, making their first-ever trip to the state tournament, kept the game from getting out of hand — at one point cutting the lead to 13 in the third quarter.

Harrison was led by senior captain Andrew Bacon with 20 points. Riley Reynolds scored 12 points in the loss while Aaron DeFrance added a double-double with 11 points and 14 rebounds.

Box Elder will face (1S) Harlowton-Ryegate in the State C semifinals on Thursday at 8 p.m., while Harrison will take on Plentywood in the consolation bracket at 10:30 a.m.

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Box Elder overwhelmed Harrison 76-59 in the first round of the State C tournament.