GREAT FALLS — The Northern C divisional basketball tournament continued on Thursday, with the first round of the boys bracket wrapping up in the afternoon.
The Chinook Sugarbeeters and Belt Huskies earned wins to advance to the semifinals on Friday night.
On the girls side of the bracket, North Star and Fort Benton each defeated last season's state co-champions in tight contests to advance to the championship on Saturday.
BOYS: Chinook 68, Heart Butte 28
Ethan Bell scored 21 points to lead Chinook to a dominant 68-28 win over Heart Butte at the Northern C tournament.
The teams traded baskets in the opening minutes, before Chinook started to build a lead. The Sugarbeeters led 13-7 after the first quarter and 29-14 at halftime, before blowing open the game with a 14-point run in the third quarter.
Reese Elliot added 14 points and nine rebounds, while Oskar Pula scored 12 points and also pulled in nine rebounds.
Thomas Young Running Crane was the only Heart Butte player to reach double figures with 10 points and five steals, but the Warriors only shot 11 for 59 from the field.
Chinook will advance to the Northern C semifinal against District 8C champion Belt at 8:30 p.m. Friday.
Heart Butte moves to the consolation bracket and will face Dutton-Brady on Friday morning at 10:30 a.m.
BOYS: Belt 53, Dutton-Brady 30
The Belt boys used a suffocating defense to stifle Dutton-Brady in a 53-30 win at the Northern C divisional tournament.
Bridger Vogl scored 17 points to lead the Huskies, with 15 of those coming in the first half. Aidan McDaniel added 14 points. As a team, Belt recorded 12 steals in the win.
Dutton-Brady managed only eight field goals the entire game and was led by Kellen Doheny with 15 points, half of his team’s total. Jake Feldman added eight points for the Diamondbacks.
Belt moves on to face Chinook, the No. 2 seed out of District 9C. Dutton-Brady will try to stay alive against Heart Butte on Friday morning at 10:30 a.m. in loser-out action.
GIRLS: North Star 37, Belt 32
Less than a week after an upset win in a district championship, the North Star Knights will play in another title game after outlasting Belt 37-32 to advance to the Northern C divisional championship.
Every Knights player scored in a balanced offensive attack, led by Kaytlyn Domire with 11 points on 5-for-7 shooting. Jade Wendland had nine. The game featured six lead changes, but North Star separated in the second quarter, outscoring the Huskies by 10 in the frame.
Lindsey Paulson led Belt with 21 points, while Sabrina Wing scored seven.
North Star will face Fort Benton in the title game in a rematch of last week's District 9C championship, which the Knights won 61-58 in overtime.
Belt will face Box Elder in a loser-out game Friday afternoon at 1 p.m.
GIRLS: Fort Benton 51, Roy-Winifred 42
Fort Benton recovered from a five-point halftime deficit and hit clutch free throws to beat Roy-Winifred 51-42 in the other girls semifinal.
The Longhorns led 16-11 after the first quarter, but they quickly tallied 11 fouls on defense, putting Roy-Winifred in the double bonus early in the second quarter. The Outlaws took advantage, using a 19-point first half from Madeline Heggem to build a 30-25 lead at halftime.
But Fort Benton held Heggem to just four points in the second half. She finished with 23 (the only Outlaw in double figures) and Fort Benton finally took the lead for good in the fourth quarter.
Aspen Giese led Fort Benton with 16 points, while Emerson Giese added 14 points and six assists. Ashlee Wang tallied 13 points.
Fort Benton moves on to face District 9C rival North Star in the championship game. Roy-Winifred will play Geraldine-Highwood in loser-out action on Friday at 3:30.
Geraldine-Highwood 45, Augusta 41, loser-out
Box Elder 65, Valier 43, loser-out
North Star 37, Belt 32, semifinal
Fort Benton 51, Roy-Winifred 42, semifinal
Chinook 68, Heart Butte 28, first round
Belt 53, Dutton-Brady 30, first round