An early two points by Red Lodge Levi Lynde promised good things in this loser out encounter with Joliet however it was not to be. Joliet’s twin strike force of Cameron Lloyd and Brock Beede frequently disturbed the rhythm the Rams were attempting to establish.
It was frantic end-to-end action with frequent smash and grabs by Red Lodge, Lynde always lurking by the net waiting for the throws coming out of defense.
A three pointer by Logan Beck followed by a penetrating move by Lynde for two.
Lynde was untouchable, drawing points and free throws by the bucket load.
But Joliet kept in touch, having their own scoring machine in Beede.
By the end of the first quarter the Rams were 7 up over the J-Hawks.
The second quarter opened with Jordan Polesky of Joliet capturing the points off a double rebound and while unbalanced.
Suddenly Joliet looked sharper.
Lynde continued to find space but it was Joliet who was getting the points. Again Beede picked off two more, it was looking so easy for him.
A nice reverse pass by Brenden Connors found Lynde for two points but J-Hawks see off the Rams back came Joliet and Mr. Beede, managed to snake his way passed three Red Lodge players to get to the net.
With the feverish play gaining speed it was not surprising that both sides looked tired towards end of the first half as periods of sloppy play ensued as teams missed easy shots and attempted half baked long ones.
The thi rd quar t e r opened with both teams coming out from their corners looking for the killer blow. Two quick baskets, one of them coming from a huge throw to Polesky who caught it under the basket, af f irmed the J-Hawks intent not to let this one slide.
Immediately the Rams responded with a three pointer from Connor Beck who celebrated like a soccer player.
Mirroring Beck’s effort, Joliet got their own three pointer making it 33-34 Joliet with 2 minutes of the quarter left. It was the first time they’d taken the lead.
Straight back came the Rams with some deft penetration and a three pointer from Logan Beck.
Red Lodge went for another, but missed. For a brief second Joliet regained the lead but two successful free throws by Logan Beck put Red Lodge back in the driver's seat at 37-36 going into the fourth quarter.
The fourth quarter followed the same vein but in the blink of an eye Joliet suddenly pulled away, five points clear.
Gunnar Nelson of Red Lodge found space but skewed his shot, the ball slipping from him as he shot. Joliet came back with two free throws before Red Lodge got a 3 pointer.
Lynde drew a foul and what was a six-point gap was suddenly down to one.
The cacophony of the chant ‘let’s go Red Lodge’ could have been heard in Billings as Lynde drew more fouls. Had he tied I think the gym would have appeared on radar somewhere.
One thing for sure the next Red Lodge net would bring one big roar and it did with a huge three pointer from Connor beck.
But Joliet wasn’t having that. They also had a vocal cheering section and it brought them back with their own three pointer from their smallest player Polesky who then turned over Red Lodge for two more.
With 50 seconds left the score was 51-47 Joliet.
A three-point effort by Red Lodge fai led and Polesky, Joliet, drew a foul.
With seconds left Joliet tightened the defensive wall and forced Red Lodge to look for three pointers.
Two rim runners by the Beck brothers brought Red Lodge close but resulted in a free throw for Joliet.
With nine seconds left the Rams were looking at a 5-point gap. Final s core 53-47 Joliet.