Mountain Cats edge Seeley; rout Lincoln

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Clark Fork junior guard Bryan Mask signals a play against Lincoln. (Chuck Bandel/Mineral Independent)

A nail biter and a blowout. Both victories none-the-less for the Clark Fork boys basketball team this past weekend.

First the nail biter.

With Seeley-Swan’s junior standout Owen Mercado not in the lineup due to unspecified personal reasons, they were still a formidable opponent.

But the Clark Fork boys battled from behind to pull out a 28-27 win over the previously highly ranked Blackhawks in a Montana Class C thriller in Seeley.

Seeley-Swan jumped out to a narrow 9-5 lead at the end of the first quarter, only to see the Mountain Cats battle back and take a 14-12 halftime lead in a game marked by stingy defense and cold shooting.

Without the 6-foot-2-inch Mercado, the Blackhawks were still able to rally in the second half, outscoring Clark Fork 11-1 in the third quarter to go ahead 23-15 heading into the final eight minutes of play.

Mountain Cats forwards Carson Callison and Aaron Waddle took over from there as Clark Fork staged a furious fourth quarter comeback, outscoring the Blackhawks 13-4 in the last stanza to eke out the one-point victory.

Callison led all scorers with 11 points and Waddle added 10 for the Cats. No Seeley player scored in double figures.

The next night the Cats took on the Lincoln Lynx in a game played in Alberton and had a much easier time, defeating the visitors 49-26.

The first quarter was, needless-to-say, all Clark Fork as their trapping defense completely befuddled the Lynx, leading to a 19-0 lead at the quarter’s end.

They continued to build on that early lead while resting key players throughout the game and by halftime Clark Fork had a 31-7 lead.

Lincoln battled hard the rest of the way but could not make a dent in that lead.

Freshman Isaac Miller, a 5-foot-3-inch guard, came off the bench to lead all scorers with 15 points, including several from beyond the 3-point arc. Junior Bryan Mask chipped in 13 points for the home team.

The pair of wins boosted the surging Mountain Cats to 9-5 on the year.

Clark Fork has a pair of “home” games this weekend, hosting Victor Friday night in Superior, then taking on Phillipsburg in Alberton Saturday evening. Superior and Alberton are a co-op team.

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