High School SportsHigh School Boys Basketball

Actions

What I'll be watching: Class B, Class C district tournaments

Web-Default-Image_1280x720-MTNSPX.png
Posted at 5:08 PM, Feb 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-20 19:54:59-05

Postseason basketball is already rocking and rolling.

District tournaments tipped off around the state as early as Monday, as several teams will see their seasons end this weekend.

Nine total teams across Class B and Class C, both boys and girls, finished the regular season unbeaten. Those nine teams have hopes of getting to the divisional tournament with their unbeaten records still intact, but tournament time can bring some wild results.

This week’s edition of ‘What caught my eye’ will focus on the Class B and Class C district tournaments and the games that stand out.

Class B

District 1B

Boys

Fairfield finished the regular season a perfect 12-0 in District 1B play, including a pair of wins over Shelby, the conference’s No. 2 seed. Fairfield has its sights set on a berth at the state tournament after missing out last year, but the Eagles have plenty of work ahead. That will likely include a meeting on Saturday night with Shelby for the district title, but only if Fairfield and Shelby can win semifinal games. Another Fairfield-Shelby battle could be on tap.

Girls

Fairfield and Shelby look primed for a clash on the girls courts, too. The Eagles and Coyotes finished tied atop the conference with identical 11-1 records in District 1B play and split the head-to-head meetings this year. Avoiding Harlem at the divisional tournament will be key for both sides to have hopes of advancing to the state tournament, so winning a district title becomes of even greater importance.

District 2B

Boys

Harlem’s boys put on a show this season in District 2B, routinely putting up big numbers on the scoreboard en route to a regular-season conference title. The Wildcats will likely meet Wolf Point in the district title game on Saturday night. Wolf Point was the only team to beat Harlem in conference play in the regular season, taking down the Wildcats 58-51 on Jan. 25. Harlem likely has a bit of revenge on its mind, as the Wildcats look to lock up a berth at the divisional tournament.

Girls

The Harlem girls give the Wildcats two teams with district title aspirations. Harlem was beaten by Malta late in the season, but that was the Wildcats’ only loss on the year. Harlem will potentially have to face Malta again in the district title on Saturday night. Harlem’s dreams are bigger than that of a district title and divisional tournament berth, but that journey begins this weekend.

District 3B

Boys

The Lodge Grass boys were so dominant at the beginning of the season that they looked like a surefire lock for the State B tournament in Butte in March. Late in the season, Lodge Grass struggled, as the Indians fell to Huntley Project and Hardin, while also having to rally to beat Colstrip in overtime. Lodge Grass will likely have to face off with Colstrip again in the title game on Saturday night. Can the Indians regain their form from earlier in the season?

Girls

This district has been wild all season long. Forsyth captured the conference’s regular-season title with just one loss in District 3B play, but it came to third-place Colstrip. Forsyth swept second-place St. Labre. If Forsyth and Colstrip meet up in the District 3B title game, we could see some fireworks yet again. The two have played a pair of fantastic games. St. Labre is the wild card, though, as the Braves have blown out Colstrip twice but gotten whacked by Forsyth twice. Thursday’s semifinal between St. Labre and Colstrip is critical as both teams look for a divisional tournament berth.

District 4B

Boys

Huntley Project cruised to the District 4B regular-season title, as the Red Devils were never truly tested by any of the teams in their conference. Columbus has easily been the second-best team in the conference this season, but the Cougars can’t seem to get over the hump against Huntley Project this season. The Red Devils have a Class B-best 16 wins this season and have been playing their best basketball down the stretch of the regular season. Can Huntley Project stay hot heading into the Southern B divisional tournament, or can Columbus pull out an upset?

Girls

The Columbus girls put their foot down as the conference’s best team in the regular season, winning District 4B by three games. Roundup was the conference’s No. 2 seed, but without Meghan Eiselein the Panthers lost to Forsyth and Joliet in the regular season’s final weekend. Roundup will need to regain the form it had early in the season without Eiselein to advance to the Southern B tournament. Can the Panthers challenge Columbus for the title? The Cougars handed Roundup losses by a combined 31 points, holding Roundup to 17.5 points per game.

District 5B

Boys

Throughout the entire regular season, it didn’t look as if anyone in District 5B could touch Three Forks. That changed in the season’s final weekend, as the Wolves lost to Manhattan. Manhattan will likely be the top challenger to Three Forks at the District 5B tournament. I’m curious to see how the Wolves handle Manhattan after losing in their previous meeting should the two teams meet for the district title on Saturday.

Girls

Big Timber’s girls may have been the surprise of Class B this season on their way to a perfect regular season. The Sheepherders’ top two scorers are a freshman and sophomore, as Big Timber is set up for years of success. This weekend could be the beginning of a streak of sorts in District 5B for Big Timber. Whitehall, though, will likely give the Herders a test, although it was fourth-seeded Jefferson that Big Timber had the most trouble with in the regular season. Big Timber will get Jefferson in the semifinals on Friday evening.

District 6B

Boys

There could be a new name atop District 7B. Missoula Loyola has had a grasp of the conference in recent years, but the Rams are third behind regular-season champ Deer Lodge and No. 2 Anaconda. Loyola will face Anaconda on Thursday night, while Deer Lodge will play Arlee with a spot in the championship game on the line. This weekend could represent a changing of the guard in District 6B, at least for the time being.

Girls

Missoula Loyola joined Big Timber as the only Class B unbeatens this season, and now the Breakers take aim at a District 6B title. Loyola’s top contenders will likely be Anaconda and Florence. Loyola’s first matchup with Anaconda was a blowout, but the Breakers won by just six at the Snake Pit on Feb. 11. Loyola will get Deer Lodge in Friday’s semifinals. A win would mean a meeting with either Florence or Anaconda on Saturday night.

District 7B

Boys

Did you think Bigfork would fall off after losing a talented senior class that led the Vikings to back-to-back State B titles? I certainly did, but Bigfork has proven me wrong. The Vikings won the regular-season conference title and have their sights set on yet another berth at the divisional tournament. District 7B had just one team finish above .500 – Eureka at 10-8 – but four teams finished between 8-10 and 10-8. Bigfork entered the district tournament as the top seed, but this district is wide open.

Girls

The Thompson Falls girls have made a bit of history. The Blue Hawks hadn’t won a regular-season conference title since 1984 before this year’s squad finished first in District 7B. The top of the district has been very competitive, though, as Bigfork and Eureka joined Thompson Falls with identical 6-2 records in conference play. Thompson Falls will likely face the Eureka-Bigfork winner in Saturday’s title game. The Bluehawks beat Bigfork in both meetings this season but lost both games to Eureka. Eureka lost both of its games to Bigfork.

Class C

District 2C

Boys

Semifinal matchups are set in District 2C, which features two teams with at least 16 wins. Fairview finished 17-1 with its only loss coming to District 3C’s Scobey, while Froid-Medicine Lake went 16-2 with both losses coming to Fairview. The two are on a collision course for the District 2C championship game. Froid-Medicine Lake is a talented team with a very bright future, but can it take down the senior-laden Warriors?

Girls

District 2C’s girls race was led by a trio of teams that separated themselves from the pack early. Westby-Grenora finished unbeaten in conference play on its way to a 17-1 regular-season record, but the Thunder will need to navigate through Plentywood and Froid-Medicine Lake to bring home the first-place trophy. It’s possible two teams from this district could represent the Eastern C at the State C tournament in March.

District 3C

Boys

Scobey has had an absolute stranglehold on District 3C in recent years. This year, though, the Spartans appear to have some competition. Dodson’s boys finished the regular season with four losses – two to unbeaten Scobey and one to unbeaten Melstone, as well as a five-point loss at Roy-Winifred. Dodson played Scobey within one point the second time to the two teams met. Can the Coyotes be the team to finally dethrone Scobey?

Girls

Scobey has been the story on the girls side of District 3C, too. The Spartans lost early in the year at home to Westby-Grenora, but the Spartans avenged that loss by beating the Thunder on their home floor. Scobey’s top challenger is likely Saco-Whitewater-Hinsdale, which finished conference play with just two losses, both to the Spartans. Scobey is looking to be one of several Class C schools to sweep their respective district tournaments.

District 4C

Boys

Melstone has absolutely owned this district in recent years. In fact, the Broncs have been a staple of success in District 4C for more than 20 years with head coach Jason Grebe at the helm. This year is no different, as Melstone once again finished the regular season unbeaten. It wasn’t without drama, though, as Melstone had a two-point win over Dodson, a one-point win over Ekalaka and survived an overtime scare against Jordan. I wouldn’t be shocked if the winner of Thursday’s Ekalaka-Jordan semifinal gave Melstone all it could handle in Saturday’s title game.

Girls

Melstone’s girls had one of the best seasons in school history. The Broncs joined their boys with 18-0 records during the regular season. Melstone hasn’t been to the state tournament since 1977, but the Broncs look like they’ve got the weapons to make a run for the next few years. Melstone has two teams in its district that were at last year’s state tournament in Wibaux and Ekalaka, and both bring back a ton of experience. Knocking off those experienced teams will be no easy task, but the Broncs haven’t had much trouble this year.

District 6C

Boys

The Plenty Coups offense has been an absolute nightmare for opponents to stop this season. The Warriors hung 97 points on Fromberg in their first game of the District 6C tournament after putting up 108 against the Falcons last week. Plenty Coups could potentially meet Bridger in the championship game on Saturday night. The Scouts were the only team to beat the Warriors in District 6C play this year, winning at home 76-69 in mid-January. Bridger has a ton of young, talented kids. Is this the beginning of Bridger’s run atop the district?

Girls

The Plenty Coups girls find themselves in the same position as the boys team. The Warriors enter Friday night’s semifinal game as the prohibitive favorite after going unbeaten in conference play during the regular season. Plenty Coups could run up against Harlowton-Ryegate, which has its own storied history atop District 6C. The Warriors are looking to be one of the Class C schools with district titles on both the boys and girls sides.

District 8C

Boys

The District 8C boys regular season was a whirlwind. Belt separated itself as the conference’s top dog with a 15-3 overall record, including 10-2 in conference play. Then there were four teams within two games of each other. Roy-Winifred and Denton-Geyser-Stanford were the two teams to knock Belt off, but it appears that any team in the district is capable of winning on any given night. Belt will have its hands full with Hobson-Moore-Judith Gap on Friday and potentially Roy-Winifred again on Saturday.

Girls

The District 8C girls tournament is fairly straightforward. Two teams went 17-1 overall and split the head-to-head meetings, as Belt and Roy-Winifred are pushing toward another meeting for the district title. Roy-Winifred’s loss to Belt came when the Outlaws weren’t at full strength, but the Huskies gave the Outlaws a pretty good beating regardless. Avoiding a potential meeting with District 9C favorite Fort Benton early in the divisional tournament will likely be key for both sides in their hopes of reaching the state tournament.

District 9C

Boys

This district tournament is Fort Benton’s to lose. The Longhorns were utterly dominant over their conference competition this year, including a pair of blowout wins over Chinook, the conference’s No. 2 seed. Fort Benton is chasing perfection, as it racked up an 18-0 record in the regular season. The Longhorns should be seen as a favorite for the Northern C title, as Fort Benton is looking to make the state tournament after last year’s bitter ending.

Girls

The Fort Benton girls matched the boys team with a perfect 18-0 record in the regular season. While the boys are unquestionably the favorite, the girls will have their hands full. Fort Benton narrowly beat Turner in the last meeting between the two, 57-54, and beat Hays-Lodgepole by just 14 a week later. The Longhorns will get Hays-Lodgepole in the semifinals. Fort Benton is one of the Class C schools looking to double up on district titles this weekend.

District 10C

Boys

Simms ran away with the District 10C regular-season title, winning the conference by three games. It’s not a foregone conclusion Simms will win the district tournament, though, as Simms’ two losses in conference play came to the fourth- and sixth-place teams in the district, Sunburst and Dutton-Brady. Simms also had close calls with Heart Butte and Cascade down the stretch. The No. 7 team in the conference, Valier, took down No. 2 Cascade in the first round. It appears that seven teams in the conference have a legitimate shot at the title.

Girls

Augusta enters the District 10C tournament as the top seed, but it's crowded near the top. The conference’s top four teams all seem to have legitimate championship hopes. It appears to be tracking toward an Augusta-Simms matchup, which would likely be thrilling. The two sides combined for a 30-6 record this season. After splitting the regular-season meetings, Saturday’s potential matchup would be the rubber match to decide the district’s champion.

District 11C

Boys

Manhattan Christian has absolutely owned District 11C in recent memory and this year has been no different. The Eagles cruised to a perfect 10-0 record in league play and their only loss came to Class B Three Forks. Manhattan Christian was tested by Gardiner on the final weekend of the season, holding off the Bruins for a one-point win. Gardiner has essentially been the only team capable of hanging with Manhattan Christian in District 11C over the past few seasons. The Bruins will likely have a chance to finally get over the hump on Saturday night.

Girls

Manhattan Christian’s girls are hoping to make it an Eagles sweep this weekend. The Eagles’ top competition will likely come from West Yellowstone, which lost both games to Manhattan Christian during the regular season. Both the Eagles and Wolverines have appeared to be among the best teams in the Western C all season long. Manhattan Christian is another of those Class C schools looking for a pair of district title trophies.

District 12C

Boys

Twin Bridges is one of three Class C boys teams to finish the regular season unbeaten, and there’s no reason to believe the Falcons won’t cruise through the district tournament, too. Harrison-Willow Creek will likely be Twin Bridges’ top challenger, but the Falcons just handed the Wildcats a 14-point defeat last week. Twin Bridges has plenty of heartbreak at the Western C divisional tournament over the past few seasons, but this could be the year the Falcons break through and return to the State C tournament.

Girls

The District 12C girls race was controlled all season by Ennis until a late-season loss to Philipsburg. The Mustangs still won the regular-season crown but showed a few chinks in the armor in the process. Ennis, Philipsburg and Drummond all finished 12-6 overall this season, but Ennis and Philipsburg look to be the superior teams. Can Philipsburg take down Jordan Overstreet’s Mustangs again, or will Ennis hoist yet another district title trophy?

District 13C

Boys

It’s a three-team race in District 13C this weekend, as Seeley-Swan, Alberton-Superior and Darby have clearly separated themselves from the rest of the conference. Just two teams advance to the Western C divisional tournament, so one team will be left at home by the end of the weekend. Thursday night’s matchup between Darby and Alberton-Superior will likely decide who moves on and who sees its season end.

Girls

The Seeley-Swan girls were dominant in District 13C’s regular season, racking up a perfect record in conference play. The Blackhawks should be on the short list of contenders for the Western C divisional title, but they’ll need to escape district play first. Seeley-Swan’s two losses came to teams in District 14C, Charlo and Hot Springs, while it dominated its conference opponents. Alberton-Superior will likely be the top contender, but Seeley-Swan is hoping to bring back two first-place trophies this weekend.

District 14C

Boys

With no Arlee in District 14C, there will be a new champion this year. During the regular season, that champion was Plains, as the Horsemen didn’t lose a game in conference play. They had two tough games with St. Regis, though, and seem destined for a third meeting in Saturday’s district title game. In what is shaping up to be a crowded list of contenders for the Western C crown, don’t forget about Plains and St. Regis.

Girls

Charlo’s girls are the final Class C team looking to further its unbeaten record. The Vikings finished the regular season a perfect 18-0 and look primed to run through District 14C. Hot Springs will likely await, though. The Savage Heat gave Charlo all it could handle in their Jan. 17 meeting, but the Vikings won 43-40. Charlo won last weekend’s meeting 57-42. Should the Vikings make it, they’ll be looking for win No. 20 in Saturday’s title game.