Before I walked into last night’s boys basketball game between Glacier and Whitefish, I had a vision. In my mind, I saw headlines like these: “Cutler’s 40 Points Scorch Bulldogs” or “Idol Drops 23 in Wild Second Half.”
When you’re going to a game featuring two of the most explosive scorers in the state – Glacier’s Ben Cutler and Whitefish’s Colt Idol – such visions seem appropriate. In this case, my imagination didn’t fail me. Cutler scored 34 points, the bulk coming in a frenetic third quarter. Idol, meanwhile, managed 24 points despite sitting out the majority of the game due to foul trouble.
Idol, who recently committed to play basketball at Montana State University, is one of the most gifted athletes in the state. He won the 2007-2008 Class A high jump title with a leap of 6 feet 8 ¼ inches. The next closest was 6 feet 2.
On the basketball court, Idol has a pretty release on his jump shot, leaving a high and consistent follow-through on even the longest of three-pointers. In the paint, you’re almost obligated to foul him, otherwise he’ll get to the rim every time.
He put all of this talent on display throughout the first half of last night’s game. But then early in the second half, he picked up his fourth foul and sat out the rest of the third quarter. When he left, Whitefish was leading by double digits.
That’s when Cutler took over.
Cutler has a quick first step. When he gets past his man, he bulls his way to the hoop, occasionally appearing reckless but almost always proving he’s in control. He doesn’t pick up many silly charges. His pull-up jumper is among the best you’ll see in Montana high school basketball. Then, of course, he’s arguably the top three-point shooter in the state.
Case in point: Cutler hit three three-pointers in the third quarter while Idol was on the bench. He was fouled on one of those long balls and made the free throw for a rare four-point play. Glacier’s furious rally made a game out of what was teetering on a Whitefish rout in the first half.
Idol came back briefly in the fourth quarter but quickly picked up his fifth foul and his night was done. The rest of the Bulldogs held tough, led by senior forward Josh Backer in the paint, but ultimately Cutler’s Wolfpack hit enough free throws late in the game to pull out a 78-77 victory.
It was my first game of the young high school basketball season. Not a bad way to start the winter.
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