Big fourth-quarter carries The Pack

By FRITZ NEIGHBOR Daily Inter Lake

The Glacier Wolfpack had its issues shooting the ball at the noisy Flathead High School gym, with fans packed to the rafters and the Braves playing in-your-dish defense.

Then the visitors put together an 11-0 burst in the fourth quarter of a 45-40 crosstown boys’ basketball win Friday.

A couple defensive stands where the Pack played zone knocked Flathead out of its comfort zone; Drew Engellant scored 12 of his 15 points in the final eight minutes for Glacier (6-3, 3-2 in the Western AA).

The Braves were a tough nut to crack, but fell to 2-7, 1-4.

“It’s crosstown,” said Engellant, whose previously hot-shooting club missed 18 of its first 23 attempts from the floor Friday. “You’ve got all that energy and stuff, and everybody’s cheering. You get caught up in the moment and I think everybody was trying to buckle down and do it themselves.”

Flathead played an inspired man-to-man defense and limited the open looks for Glacier, which had hit 24 3-pointers over its last two games. The Braves rode 11 fourth-quarter points from sophomore Joston Cripe to a 33-24 lead.

It was still 39-30, Flathead, when Gabe Adams hit a tough baseline shot. Then momentum switched.

Engellant scored. Jaxson Olsen hit two free throws. Flathead missed twice and Engellant tallied twice in transition.

Another miss and Olsen snared the rebound – his ninth – for Glacier, leading to a Weston Price free throw that tied it 39-all with 1:43 left.

Olsen’s basket after Cripe missed a free throw put the Pack ahead for good with 1:13 remaining. Flathead managed just a single Cripe freebie in the last 5:00.

“They were in the flow, starting to get comfortable,” Glacier coach Mark Harkins said of the Braves. “I liked the [defensive] change, thought we got some stuff out of it and we went back to our man to finish.

“It’s awesome. My throat hurts so bad from yelling, but it’s an awesome environment.”

Cripe had 14 points for Flathead. When Adams (four points, eight boards) had first-half foul trouble the Braves got a boost from 6-foot-8 junior Ezra Epperly: six rebounds and three blocked shots in the second quarter.

Price had 14 points and six boards for the Wolfpack.

“They did switch it up to zone, and I think we didn’t react as well as we should have or could have,” Flathead coach Ross Gustafson said. “So we got stagnant, basically.

“My boys played really well. I thought they competed, especially on the defensive end, for most of the game. I told the team, offense can come and go a little bit … but you can definitely control your effort and mental focus at the defensive end. That’s the best we’ve done that up to this point of the season. They were ready to play and played their hearts out.”

Glacier 8 6 10 21 — 45

Flathead 7 11 15 10 — 40

GLACIER (6-3, 3-2) – Michael Schwarz 0-2 0-0 0, Drew Engellant 4-8 7-9 1`5, Weston Price 3-7 7-10 14, KJ Johnson 2-7 0-0 6, Keifer Spohnhauer 1-3 0-2 2, Jaxson Olsen 1-3 4-4 6, Colin Presnell 0-0 0-0 0, JT Allen 0-1 2-4 2. Totals 11-31 20-29 45.

FLATHEAD (2-7, 1-4) – Cooper Smith 4-8 1-6 10, Gabe Adams 1-6 2-2 4, Tannen Beyl 1-5 0-0 2, Hunter Hickey 3-11 0-0 6, Joston Cripe 4-12 4-8 14, Ethan Vandenbosch 0-4 1-2 1, Gatlin Bruner 1-1 0-0 2, Max Anderson 0-0 0-1 0, Brian Wells 0-2 0-0 0, Eza Epperly 0-0 1-2 1. Totals 14-49 9-21 40.

3-point goals – Glacier 3-14 (Johnson 2-7, Price 1-4, Olsen 0-1, Schwarz 0-2), Flathead3-25 (Cripe 2-7, Smith 1-4, Adams 0-1, Beyl 0-4, Vandenbosch 0-1, Hickey 0-7, Wells 0-1). Fouls – Glacier 26, Flathead 21. Fouled out – Schwarz, Smith, Beyl. Technical foul – Allen. Rebounds – Glacier 38 (Olsen 9), Flathead 34 (Adams 8). Steals – Glacier 1 (Allen), Flathead 7 (Cripe 4). Blocks – Glacier 1 (Spohnhauer), Flathead 3 (Epperly 3). Turnovers – Glacier 15, Flathead 5.