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What I'll be watching: Regular season titles up for grabs

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Posted at 2:26 PM, Feb 05, 2021

We are inching closer and closer to the Montana high school basketball postseason.

Great Falls High and Bozeman have gained a little separation atop the Eastern AA boys standings, but the Hawks have a huge road test on Friday night that could shake up the conference.

Missoula Hellgate's girls are on top of the Western AA, racing to an unbeaten record. The defending co-champions are sure to give the Knights a test on Saturday.

Just one unbeaten team remains in the Class A boys ranks, and they'll put that perfect record on the line Saturday night against the defending Class A co-champions, who have struggled so far in 2021. The Polson boys can move one step closer to a Northwestern A regular season crown if they're able to beat up on the cellar dwellers in the conference.

The Columbia Falls and Billings Central girls are still unbeaten this season. Central will have an easier go of it this weekend than the Wildkats, though.

Fairfield's pulled out a big win over Shelby to pull the Coyotes back to the pack in District 1B. The Eagles have a huge game on Friday night against another conference title competitor.

It's a huge weekend for the Roundup girls. The Panthers can all but clinch a regular-season conference crown on Friday night, then they'll have a chance at avenging their only loss of the year on Saturday. The District 7B regular-season title is up for grabs in on Saturday night as two of the Western B's best meet up.

One of the best tests a Class C school can get is competing up a classification against a Class B school. Froid-Medicine Lake's boys will get that opportunity on Friday night. Melstone's boys have had a target on their backs in District 4C for years. They'll have a huge road test Friday night that will likely decide the regular season conference champion.

The Saco-Whitewater-Hinsdale girls are the only unbeaten team in the Eastern C, but the Mavericks have a huge test on Friday night against a team that's been to back-to-back State C tournaments. The last step for Fort Benton to lock up a regular season conference title comes this weekend, as the Longhorns face a pair of familiar foes

Reminder: Scores, stats and record-breaking performances can be submitted to sports@ktvh.com.

Boys

Class AA

  • Defending co-champion Billings Skyview finds itself third in the Eastern AA standings, looking up at Great Falls High and Bozeman. The Falcons host Bozeman on Friday night with a chance to get right back in the thick of the conference title race. Bozeman beat Skyview, 61-56, back on Jan. 9 in Bozeman. If the Hawks can make it a clean sweep, they'll be in control of the Eastern AA by owning a head-to-head victory over Great Falls High.

Class A

  • Dillon is Class A's lone unbeaten team remaining, but defending co-champion Central has an opportunity to change that on Saturday night. The Beavers beat the Maroons, 64-51, on Jan. 9, but Butte Central is coming off back-to-back wins. Dillon, though, can continue its Southwestern A runaway with another victory. The Beavers hold a two-game edge in the loss column on a handful of teams in the conference.
  • Polson is making its presence felt in the Northwestern A as the conference's lone unbeaten in league play. The Pirates' only loss this year came to Dillon on Jan. 26. Polson has a weekend slate against Whitefish and Browning, who stand at the bottom of the conference. A clean weekend would put Polson in position to clinch the conference title early.

Class B

  • Defending co-champion Fairfield looks like it will be in the thick of it again this in 2021. A Jan. 29 win over Shelby put Fairfield into a tie atop the District 1B standings with the Coyotes. Third-place Rocky Boy, just a game back, is on Fairfield's plate on Friday night, as the Northern Stars can inject themselves into the hunt.

Class C

  • Non-conference game or not, Friday night is a big test for Froid-Medicine Lake, which has suffered just one loss - a 57-54 loss to defending co-champion Scobey on the road. The Redhawks will travel to Class B Malta to face a Mustangs team contending for a District 2B regular season crown. This will be a great tune-up for Froid-Lake, as a rematch with the Spartans awaits on Tuesday night.
  • Could Melstones reign during the District 4C regular season come to an end? For years the Broncs have been the kings of the conference, especially during the regular season, but that's in jeopardy. Melstone travels to Terry on Friday night to face the Terriers, who have lost only to Broadus and beat Melstone, 47-44, on Jan. 15. Can Terry turn the conference into a two-horse race with Broadus?

Girls

Class AA

  • Saturday night is the biggest game of the season for unbeaten Missoula Hellgate. The Knights beat defending co-champion Helena Capital, 52-50, on Jan. 9, but that game was at home. The Knights must beat the Bruins in their building to earn the Western AA regular season title. Both teams, though, are legitimate state title contenders.

Class A

  • Defending co-champion Billings Central looks like the team to beat in Class A after having beat defending co-champion Hardin and Dustin Kraske's Havre squad. On Saturday the Rams will host Livingston, which is still winless in Southeastern A play. I wouldn't expect any sort of letdown from unbeaten Central this weekend.
  • Columbia Falls, too, is unbeaten, but the Wildkats will have to navigate a more treacherous schedule than the Rams this weekend. Columbia Falls will visit Whitefish on Friday night, as the Bulldogs have a chance to avenge their only conference loss of the year - a 48-47 defeat to the Wildkats on Jan. 14. Can Columbia Falls survive Whitefish a second time?

Class B

  • Roundup is in control of District 4B as the only team perfect in conference play. The Panthers hit the road on Friday night to face Columbus, which is just a game back. Roundup defeated Columbus at home, 53-47, on Jan. 8 to open its season. Roundup has suffered one loss this year, though, and that came the following night to Malta, 48-37. Roundup gets a chance to split with the M-Ettes on Saturday night at home. The Panthers have two victories over defending co-champion Forsyth and added a win over one of the best in the Northern B would pad an impressive regular season resume.
  • Thompson Falls and Eureka have proven to be among the top teams in the Western B this season, but only one can be crowned District 7B champion. Eureka owns a victory over the Bluehawks back on Jan. 9, 49-42. The Lions are coming off a non-conference loss to defending co-champion Missoula Loyola on Tuesday, so how will they rebound with a chance to clinch the conference title?

Class C

  • Saco-Whitewater-Hinsdale has put together an impressive regular season. They are unbeaten with victories over Class B Malta and Glasgow, Melstone when Draya Wacker was healthy, and Scobey, which has been to two consecutive State C tournaments. That victory over Scobey has the Mavericks in control of District 3C, but a rematch awaits on Friday night. Is Saco-Whitewater-Hinsdale the new top dog in the Eastern C?
  • The Northern C is always one of the best conferences in Class C girls basketball, and it's no different in 2021. There is a standout in that crowd, though, as Fort Benton is the lone unbeaten. The Longhorns can wrap up the District 9C regular season title with a pair of wins this weekend over Turner and Box Elder. Turner's lone loss came to the Longhorns on Jan. 15, 47-29. Fort Benton, though, struggled with sixth-place Box Elder the first meeting, only winning by three.