BUTTE – The Arlee Warriors have become a team we will never forget. And Saturday they can make more history. One more win would finish an undefeated season with their second straight state championship.
Arlee has had to overcome a couple slow starts so far in the class C bracket in Butte. But they put away Belt in the first round. And then came back from a first half deficit to hold off previously unbeaten Scobey in Friday’s semifinals.
Along the way they keep converting more fans. Not only do the Warriors play a beautiful, up-tempo style of basketball, but they have constantly stressed they are playing for everyone in their community. A Facebook video dedicating their state tournament run to suicide awareness on the reservation has over 600,000 views.
The pressure on the court will not faze these Warriors.
“There’s two types of emotion,” said head coach Zanen Pitts after Friday’s semifinal win. “One takes you away from your game, one is one you play for. And they are playing for a whole different emotion. They are playing for one that is a classy, respectable one. Sometimes we get maybe close to the edge on the other side of the spectrum. But as a whole that’s huge. It’s exactly what we’ve prepared for. They are able to channel that into an ability to get those tips, or get those rebounds, or dive on the floor. So yeah, the boys have a lot of pressure. But at the same time, that’s the kind of pressure that we want. Because it makes them realize that if they can handle this pressure, they’ll handle anything in life.”
Arlee meets a familiar foe in Butte. They beat Manhattan Christian in last year’s state championship, and again at the Western C divisional semifinals last week. The Warriors meet the Eagles again at 8:00 Saturday night in the class C state championship game.