By Craig Beilfuss
The Tigers found the going rough against Montague 6’7” sophomore Isaiah Atchison at both ends of the floor.
Atchison finished with a team high 18 points, ten blocked shots and seven rebounds.
“He’s a force especially defensively,” said Shelby coach Rick Zoulek.
Montague had a balanced scoring attack in the opening eight minutes as five players found the scoring column, with Atchison leading the way with six points in the opening frame as the Wildcats jumped out to a 21-12 lead.
Bishop Lee kept the Tigers in the hunt with eight first quarter points.
Shelby narrowed the gap to 30-25 by the halftime break as they managed to outscore the Wildcats 13-9 in the second stanza, as senior Joseph Hayes started to warm up, scoring 10 of the Tigers points. Hayes hit two 3-pointers, a pair of free throws and a two point basket.
Hayes finished with a game high 31 points, connecting on 10-of-19 from the field and going 9-of-11 from the free throw line.
Meanwhile, Atchison finished the first half scoring the last six points for Montague and finished the first half with 12 points.
Montague increased their lead by one in the third quarter with a slim 14-13 scoring advantage to carry a 44-36 lead going into the fourth quarter.
Hayes and Lee accounted for ten of the Tigers points in the third quarter to keep Shelby within striking distance.
Hayes kept things interesting in the final eight minutes, scoring 13 of the Tigers 16 points and got them within three on two different occasions at 55-52 with :47-seconds remaining and 57-54 with :18 -seconds left in regulation time.
Montague hit 10 free throws down the stretch to secure the win.
“That was one of more complete games, start to finish, especially on the offensive end of the floor,” said Montague coach David Osborne.
Also hitting for double digits for Montague was senior Tate Stine who finished with 11 points. Stine had a team high eight assists. Sophomore Owen Raeth chipped in with nine points including two 3-pointers.
Montague hit on 60 percent of their field goals going 22-of-37 from the field. The Wildcats turned the ball over 15 times and collected 27 rebounds. Montague went 12-of-18 from the free throw line.
“My inside kids were hesitant tonight,” said Zoulek. “Montague is a tough match-up for us.
“We played hard. We fought hard. I was pleased with the way we played. I was pleased with the effort tonight,” said the veteran skipper.
“Montague shot the ball well and they defended well,” Zoulek said.
Junior Bishop Lee joined Hayes in double figures with 12 points. Lee had a team leading seven rebounds. Junior Mason Garcia chipped in with seven points and a game high nine assists.
Shelby committed nine turnovers. The Tigers went 10-of-13 from the free throw line and were 20-of-41 from the field for 49 percent and grabbed a total of 16 rebounds.
Montague improves to 11-5 overall and is 7-5 in the West Michigan Conference. The Wildcats will host the Manistee Chippewa’s on Tuesday, February 22.
Shelby falls to 10-6 overall and likewise is 7-5 in the West Michigan Conference. The Tigers will visit Orchard View on Tuesday evening, February 22 to take on the Cardinals.