CHURCHILL- Last year the Manhattan Christian boys basketball team left the season in heartbreak, losing to Arlee 71-67 in the Class C State title game.
“Honestly I didn’t talk to anyone for like a week afterwards because I felt like we should have won,” said junior Caleb Bellach.
When the post season brackets were drawn this year, the Eagles knew Arlee would be creeping toward them. And it’s hard to think the boys from Churchill weren’t aware of it.
“One game at a time. That’s all I have to say about that. We play one game, whoever we play next, we play next. We don’t have to worry about who is in the next round,” said senior Ryan Busch.
That next round is Arlee. A championship rematch in the divisional semifinals. And the Eagles are excited for some revenge.
“We left that game hungry. Hungry to get back there next year and we have a chance to do that again so we are looking forward to that,” said Bellach.
But this team is much different from last year’s runner ups. And it’s not hard to see why.
“That size and that length is, you know, something you don’t take for granted,” said Eagles head coach Jeff Bellach.
The size amounts to ten Eagles over six feet tall. If you were to lay each down, head to toe, they would be just as long as a fully grown Blue Whale.
“First of all we need to take advantage of our strengths. That length and that athleticism that we have plays a huge part of what we do on the floor with our pressure defense and our ability to push the ball offensively and score it. We have a lot of guys that can put the ball in the hole,” Jeff Bellach said.
Tonight will be their toughest test of the season, a title rematch against an Arlee team that just scored 101 points against Darby. Historically, Manhattan Christian is 1-5 state title games, but the Eagles know their capabilities can change that this year.
“This team definitely has that potential. We are going to take it one game at a time as I said, but I think this team, definitely has that potential,” Jeff said. “I don’t see any reason why this team couldn’t hang up some more numbers.”