By Ron Rop
Local Sports Journal
HOLTON – Right from the start, the Shelby Tigers appeared ready, willing and able to take down the Montague Wildcats in their Class C district semifinal game on Wednesday night.
And they did it in convincing fashion.
Led by junior guard Jason Beckman and junior Andrew Beckman, the Tigers knocked off the Wildcats 83-71 in a game played at Holton High School.
Jason Beckman was near flawless in running the Tiger offense and, as an added bonus, led his team with 26 points. Andrew Beckman was a force inside and finished with 21 points.
“We were hitting, we were on and we were ready,” said Shelby coach Rick Zoulek, whose team faces Hart in the district finals. Due to a scheduling conflict at Holton, Friday’s district title game will be played at 7 p.m. at Hesperia High School.
“We have really been working on that stuff … as far as being ready to shoot,” Zoulek said. “Montague will recover quickly and get out to you. They are a very good team.”
But on Wednesday, the Tigers were very good right from the start. After eight minutes, Shelby led 19-10. The Tigers lit it up early with four 3-pointers in the first quarter, nine for the game.
By halftime, Shelby led 34-22, but the story of the second quarter was the runs that each team made. Montague scored seven points in a row to make it 24-21, but Shelby ran off 10 straight for the double-digit lead at the half.
The Tigers extended the lead in the third quarter behind the red-hot shooting of Jason Beckman, who scored 11 points in the quarter, including a trio of 3-pointers.
“Jason is a good player and had a good night for us,” Zoulek said. “He was a good floor leader. I saw him make a lot of good choices.”
Chase Casebolt, who finished with a game-high 28 points, scored 11 points in the quarter for Montague.
Early in the fourth quarter, the Tigers increased the lead to 61-41. Montague made a couple minor runs, but the Tigers broke the Wildcat pressure for some easy buckets.
“You can get down 20 points and expect to win,” Montague coach Dave Osborne said. “It was two-fold. They were hot and we were not. I can’t explain cold shooting. We just couldn’t hit our shots and you have to attribute their defense.”
Casebolt added 13 points in the fourth quarter and Brandon Moore, who threw down a monster dunk with 5 minutes left, scored eight points in the quarter before fouling out. Casebolt also fouled out in the final quarter.
From there, the Tigers (14-7) finished out the game and advanced.
“It was a good win,” Jason Beckman said. “We came out strong and I knew we could do it. It was probably our best game of the year.
“It was just a good team win,” Beckman said. “We were driving, kicking and hitting shots and rebounded. And it was great team defensive game.”
Montague finished 18-3.
Shelby 83, Montague 71
Jason Beckman 9 3-4 26, Spencer Peters 2 4-6 9, Devin Mussell 1 1-2 3, Shane Kajtaki 4 0-0 10, Michael James 4 0-0 8, Brody Lee 2 1-2 5, Andrew Beckman 6 9-10 21. Totals 28 18-24 83.
Chayce Lohman 0 1-3 1, Kalup Bentz 3 0-0 6, Luke VanBoxel 5 3-4 16, Brandon Moore 5 7-9 17, Jacob Marsh 0 0-1 0, Chase Casebolt 9 6-6 28, James Boerema 1 0-0 2. Totals 23 17-23 71.
Shelby 19 – 15 – 22 – 27 – 83
Montague 10 – 12 – 17 – 32 –71
3-pointers: VanBoxel (3), Casebolt (5), J. Beckman (5), Peters, Mussell, Kajtaki (2). Total fouls: Shelby 22, Montague 22. Fouled out: Moore, Casebolt, A. Beckman.