Despite Gundlach's 3-point clinic, Cowboys fall 68-54

Despite 27 points from junior guard Gabe Gundlach, the Custer County District High School boys basketball team dropped a 68-54 decision to visiting Billings West on Tuesday.

Gundlach buried five three-pointers, outgunning West’s three-point shooting big man Braydon Deming, who was held to just a pair of treys.

“We competed,” Cowboys’ head coach Houston Finn said. “We wanted to make sure we outworked them early, and I thought we did. We battled.” 

Gundlach started the game two-for-two at the charity stripe after the Bears received a technical foul for dunking during warmups. Junior Zack Dinardi threw down a block on Deming’s first shot attempt and Gundlach took the turnover back for two. 

Cowboy senior forward Kelly Irion, at 6’5” going inch-for-inch with Deming, found the bottom of the net, immediately picked up a defensive rebound and returned it for three. 

The Cowboys were down 12-11 after the first eight minutes, and Gundlach started his three-point clinic in the second quarter with two in a row from well beyond the arc. “My teammates gave me good looks, and I just concentrated on the rim and I was able to put them in,” Gundlach said of his 15 points by threes. 

“Gabe’s a shooter,” Finn said. “He’s going to start knocking those down every day.”

Senior Tyler Burk dropped in two free throws to tie the game at 25 with a minute left in the half, but Bryson Deming (twin brother to Braydon) sank a three at the buzzer. 

West brought their smothering combination of zone and man-to-man defense out after the half, but Gundlach and Burk were each able to add a three-pointer to the Cowboys’ 10 points in the third quarter.

West’s defense kept the Cowboys to the outside most of the game, but Gundlach and Burk drew several fouls apiece by driving the lane. The  Bears had a considerable size advantage, with just one player under 6 feet tall. 

“Neither of us have size,” said Burk, “so it’s fearlessness that has to get us inside.” 

The Gundlach three-pointer lesson was complete in the fourth when he added two more as the Cowboys outscored the Bears 19-17 in the quarter, but a combined 28 points from the Deming brothers and another 13 by DJ Peretti was too much for the Cowboys to overcome.

Despite playing a smaller school — Custer County competes in Class A and Billings West in Class AA — West head coach Kelly Darragh said his Golden Bears had their hands full.

“Miles City’s a good team and they’ve got good players,” Darragh said. “They play hard, and it wasn’t as easy a win for us.”

The Cowboys slipped to 0-6 with the loss. West improved to 3-2.

The CCDHS freshmen lost 42-37 to Billings West, and the Cowboy junior varsity squad scored just two points in the first half in a 73-7 loss. 

The Cowboys play St. Labre in Ashland on Saturday.