ENNIS – Like any good coach, Granite Dustin Keltner preaches the value of making free throws to his team. Friday night, his team learned why.
The Prospectors withstood a furious comeback attempt by the Mustangs in Ennis to earn a 58-57 win on the road.
When looking at the scorebook, the two teams had nearly identical statistics – 18 made two-point shots, four made three-point shots and 15 free throw attempts. The lone difference was that Ennis made nine from the charity stripe while Granite made 10.
“The kids pulled off a monster road win tonight,” said Keltner. “Our three sophomore guards (Brian Ward, Kade Cutler and Preston Metesh) played fantastic. Daniel (Brabender) and Bryce (Parret) did a great job of battling in the paint for us tonight.
After jumping out to a 33-21 halftime lead, the Mustangs started their comeback that eventually fell just short. The Mustangs’ Ian Swanson scored 17 of his 19 points on the night in the second half, which included four three-pointers in the fourth quarter.
Keltner noted that the unsung hero of the game for Granite was 8th grader Kai O'Donnell. O’Donnell played the last 7:30 of the fourth quarter when Brabender picked up his fifth personal foul.
“Brian and Kade kept attacking the basket and Kai's length bothered the Ennis guards. I couldn't be more proud of this very young group of guys. They played fearless,” observed Keltner.
Ward had a game-high 26 points for the Prospectors, while Cutler had 17 and Brabender chipped in 11.
In girls’ play, the Lady Prospectors lost 47-24.
“Our girls played hard,” said Granite Head Coach Brandon Piazolla. “We had some good looks early that didn't drop. We will learn from it and improve heading into the final stretch.”
Granite plays at home Saturday against Clark Fork.
GRANITE – 17/16/11/14 – 58
ENNIS – 13/8/15/19 – 57
Granite – Ward 26, Parret 4, Brabender 11, Cutler 17
Ennis – ISwanson 19, Ostler 9, TSwanson 21, Funston 2, Coffman 6