The Flathead Braves gave up 28 points in the fourth quarter to blow a late lead and lose to the Missoula Big Sky Eagles 76-71 in a divisional contest at Flathead High School Saturday night.
With the win, the Eagles advance to the state tournament held in Great Falls March 6-8. The Braves finish the season with a 15-6 (7-6) record.
The Braves started out slow, falling behind 13-2 in the opening minutes. Nine of the Eagles’ 13 points came on three-pointers by senior Justin Montelius. Montelius finished with a game-high with 32 points, including 8-for-12 from three-point range and a perfect 8-for-8 from the free-throw line. As a team, the Eagles shot 32-for-39 from the charity stripe, compared to the Braves’ 13-for-24.
Following the slow first quarter, the Braves battled back to pull within three points at halftime, 34-31. In the third quarter, the Braves rattled off 20 points, led by junior star Brock Osweiler, to take a 51-48 lead into the fourth quarter.
Osweiler’s final unofficial stat line was 24 points, 16 rebounds, six blocks and three steals.
The Braves and Eagles traded leads up until the final minutes of the fourth quarter. With 3:23 left, Osweiler scored to tie the game at 60. Shortly after, Flathead guard Danny Salois hit a three-pointer to put the Braves up 63-60. Montelius answered with a three of his own with 2:26 remaining.
The Eagles then built a 69-65 lead with less than a minute left. But with 37.2 seconds left, Osweiler hit a basket and a drew a foul. He hit the free throw to bring the score to 69-68. Nine seconds later, with the Braves down 71-68, Flathead guard Jake Thiesen knocked down a long three-pointer to tie the game. But the Braves didn’t score again.
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