Down by nearly double-digits early, Anaconda took the first punch from the former Class C juggernaut. Then they started throwing haymakers of their own.
The Copperheads outscored Arlee 29-21 in the fourth quarter, pushing Anaconda to a 78-72 win over the Warriors in the season-opening game in newly-renovated Memorial Gymnasium.
Copperhead senior Kylar Gochanour and junior Braedon Sawyer each led the team with 17 followed by 16 from senior guard Michael Galle. Seniors Peyton Klanecky and Leroy Wilson added 14 and eight, respectively, off the bench.
Down 15-4 early, Anaconda figured out that their ability to play up-tempo and create offense out of transition mimicked Arlee’s game plan. And when the half court sets were available, Anaconda had the edge in isolation quickness off the dribble.
The downfall for Arlee was foul trouble beset by their overall aggressiveness. Zachary Running Crane, the first half leading scorer, picked up his third foul early in the second quarter and wasn’t the same offensively when he returned. Cody Tanner and Tapit Haynes picked up the slack, combining for 41 points and seven of the teams nine treys. Tanner’s game-high 24 and five three-pointers was a primary reason the Warriors were never counted out, even down by 11 late in the fourth.
Gochanour’s ability to break down, drive and dish to the perimeter was what gave the Copperheads the upper hand after halftime. Sawyer’s team-high three treys including a dagger from deep in the corner with under two minutes to play pushed Anaconda to the win over a team hurt by graduation but still feeling out their new place in the Class B ranks.
Anaconda also left a lot of points on the table by shooting a miserable 48.6 percent (17-for-35) from the free throw line, a talking point head coach Rochi Estes is sure to address as the team readies for a brutal three-game stretch including a trip to Corvallis Tuesday, home against Loyola Thursday and in Deer Lodge Friday. The games against Loyola and Deer Lodge will be covered live on copperheadcountry.airtime.pro