HELENA -The rest of the state from the Class A to C has been in the middle of district and divisional tournaments BATTLES for weeks. And now for the first time in over two-decades the AA schools are getting into the action.
Starting Thursday the Eastern and Western AA boys and girls divisional tourneys will get under way, with the Western teams squaring off in the Queen City and the Eastern teams heading to Butte.
“I think it’s going to help us in the fact that we won’t necessarily have a week off and with no games being played. I think that’s always kind of a nightmare for a coach,” said Helena High girls head coach Eric Peterson. “What do you do with that time and how do you keep the girls ready and on point. But now we have those extra three games that we can put under our belt and can play some teams that we might be playing next week at state again.”
“I think the coaches really pushed for it because there were kids who went through a AA basketball program who had never played in a tournament, ever,” added Helena Capital boys head coach Guy ALmquist. “It’s a great atmosphere, it’s a great thing to participate in and why should the AA be any different than any of the other levels? So we pushed for it, and now we have it so we’re happy about it.”
“I think for a lot of years coaches in the AA have wondered why we don’t have more tournaments,” Capital girls head coach Bill Pilgeram told us. “Why we don’t do a divisional tournament when all the other classes do. I think it just gives our kids more opportunity, more atmosphere. Any March madness we can get the better.”
And the players think so too. Not wanting to pass up a chance to showcase thier skills infront of the competition.
“The crowd, that has a lot to do with it,” smiled Capital senior Matt McGinley about the expected atmosphere. “Just the fact that teams from all over the Western Conference will be here, watching you play. It’s just good to get all the teams together.”
Western supremacy on the line for all to see. March basketball at it’s finest.
But in a new set-up like this, where only the top four tournament teams punch their ticket to state, what happens if one of the top-seeded teams, like the Spartans or Bengals, fall this weekend?
“We’re going to hope that doesn’t happen,” said Peterson. “But we have to earn it like Class C, Class B. They go through districts and divisionals and so they all have to get there doing the same thing, so why not us?’
The AA West boys tournament will be held at Helena High while the girl’s games will be at Helena Capital until Saturday when championship and consolation games will be held at Helena.
For a link of the pairings and time click on the link here.