Strong Fergus defense shuts down Frenchtown

By: 
DOREEN HEINTZ
Sports Editor

Fergus got plenty of scoring from Jaden Graham, Tanner Trafton and Jake Clinton, but it was a strong Golden Eagle defense that doomed the Broncs from Frenchtown, 60-40, in an opening-round game at Brick Breeden Fieldhouse at the Class A State Boys’ Basketball Tournament. Fergus raced out to a 13-1 first quarter lead and never looked back taking the win.

“We had the top defense in Class A during the season,” said Fergus Coach Scott Sparks. “The kids were confident going into the game, and by putting up a tough defense we were able to take the win.”

Fergus fans were just getting comfortable in their seats at the Fieldhouse on the MSU campus in Bozeman as the Golden Eagles jumped to a 9-0 first quarter lead. Trafton picked up two quick first-quarter fouls and spent the rest of the quarter on the bench. Landon Henderson came off the bench for Sparks and the Eagles never skipped a beat in the first quarter.

Frenchtown’s only point in the first eight minutes of the contest came with 1:54 left in the first on a free throw. Graham, Clinton and Henderson all had points for Fergus in the first quarter.

“Frenchtown plays very similar to Livingston,” said Coach Sparks, “so we used a similar game plan that we had used against Livingston against Frenchtown.”

Several of Fergus’s points in the first half came off of offensive rebounds.

“After watching film on Frenchtown, we knew they did not box out well so we told the boys to go after the offensive boards,” added Sparks.

Fergus scored the first 5 points of the second quarter on a field goal and 3-pointer by Clinton. Frenchtown took its second timeout of the game at the 6:48 mark in the second quarter with Fergus leading, 18-1. Frenchtown’s first field goal of the game came at the 6:28 mark when Jared Cole hit a 3-pointer for the Broncs. Graham came right back with a three for the Golden Eagles.

At the 5:33 mark of the second period, Sparks inserted Trafton back into the game.

“I did not want Tanner to sit out most of the first half,” said Sparks about the decision.

Trafton played smart on defense and did not pick up another personal foul before halftime. By the time the buzzer sounded to mark the end of the first half, Fergus had a 27-8 lead. Fergus had scored 10 points in the paint, compared to 0 points by Frenchtown. Eleven of Fergus’s points came off offensive rebounds.

Graham, who finished the game with a team-high 26 points had 14 of those in the first half.

Frenchtown came out in a full-court man-to-man pressure defense in the second half. With Fergus leading, 30-8, the Broncs scored on back-to-back layups. Later in the quarter, the Frenchtown pressure defense caused a couple of Fergus turnovers. With 2:36 left in the third, Sparks called a timeout to settle his boys down. The third quarter ended with Fergus on top, 39-21.

Frenchtown scored 19 points in the final quarter, but the Eagles added 21 to their total to take the 60-40 win.

“We knew we could score against them,” Sparks said, “but it is our defense that keeps us in games.”

Besides Graham’s 26 points, Clinton had 15 points and Trafton added 10 more. Other scorers for Fergus were Wes Jameson 2, Cody Henderson 1, Jayce Philipps 2, Landon Henderson 4. Trafton and Clinton had eight rebounds each. Three of Clinton’s rebounds came on the offensive end. Fergus had a total of 16 offensive rebounds for the game as compared to only seven by the Broncs.

Fergus’s field goal percentage was 58 percent, including three for eight from behind the 3-point arc. The Eagles connected on 15 for 24 (62.5%) at the free-throw line.

 

Box Score

Fergus 60, Frenchtown 40

F-town   1   7   13  19-40

Fergus  13  14  12  21-60

Frenchtown: Ethan Pyron 3, Cade Baker 6, Zach Baker 6, Adam Botkin 3, Hank Rugg 4, Ty Hoppie 2, Ben Larson 2, Jared Cole 11, Dawson Lieshman 3. Totals: 13 10-15 40. 3-pointers: 4 (Cole 3, Dawson 1); Assists: 6 (C. Baker 2); Rebounds: 15 (Botkin 4); Fouls: 23; Fouled out: Botkin.

Fergus: Tanner Trafton 10, Jake Clinton 15, Wes Jameson 2, Cody Henderson 1, Jaden Graham 26, Jayce Philipps 2, Landon Henderson 4. Totals: 21 15-24 60. 3-pointers: 3 (Clinton 1, Graham 2); Assists: 7 ( Clinton 3); Rebounds: 38 (Trafton 8, Clinton 8); Fouls: 16. 

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