The high school basketball season is heating up. Conference play took center stage last weekend, as many teams begin to eye the postseason.
Rivals renewed acquaintances in some thrilling games around the state. The Lodge Grass and Lame Deer boys combined for more than 200 points, Glasgow’s girls beat Malta for the first time in several years, and a scoring duel broke out between two players in Drummond.
- Great Falls High trailed crosstown rival and defending Class AA champion Great Falls CMR 39-31 late in the fourth quarter, but the Bison rallied to knock off the Rustlers by two on the road. The Great Falls High boys showed the experience that makes them one of the top contenders in Class AA, as the Bison now sit atop the Eastern AA standings in a tie with Bozeman.
- Eastern AA leader Bozeman continues to look the part of a state title contender, as the Hawks handled visiting Billings Skyview by 15 points. Bozeman didn’t struggle with Skyview’s length, as the Hawks hung up 75 points, their second-highest total of the year. Bozeman’s only loss this season came in narrow fashion to top-ranked Missoula Hellgate.
- Kalispell Glacier’s girls picked up a big victory over crosstown rival Kalispell Flathead last Friday, holding off the Bravettes for an eight-point win. Glacier remains unscathed in the Western AA and joins Helena High and Helena Capital atop the conference standings. The Wolfpack defense has been good all year, allowing just one opponent to score more than 40 points. That will be the calling card for Glacier if it is to have success in the postseason.
- The Butte High girls struggled early but pulled away from Great Falls High for an Eastern AA win on Saturday afternoon. The Bulldogs have gotten off to a 2-0 start in conference play and sit atop the conference standings in a tie with Billings West. Butte is also the only team outside of Billings West in the Eastern AA with a winning record this season.
- Lewistown and Livingston played an instant classic on Friday night, as the Rangers held off the visiting Eagles for a seven-point win in overtime. With the win, Livingston moves into sole possession of the top spot in the Central A. Lewistown has struggled against the Eastern A’s top teams this season, losing to Billings Central, Hardin and Livingston. Livingston, on the other hand, has nearly beaten the top teams it has faced, with narrow losses to both Dillon and Butte Central.
- Hamilton and Dillon will be battling for postseason position throughout the year, but the Broncs took a big conference game in Dillon Saturday night, beating the Beavers by two. Hamilton gave itself some clearance in the Southwestern A from third-place Frenchtown and fourth-place Dillon with wins over each in the past two weeks.
- The Havre girls continue to run roughshod over the rest of Class A. The Blue Ponies took down visiting Browning, handing the Indians their only loss to a Class A school this season. Havre is in the midst of another unbeaten season and now owns victories over top contenders Billings Central and Browning. Browning still sits atop the Northwestern A with unbeaten Columbia Falls hot on its tails.
- Laurel picked up an impressive victory at Glendive on Saturday afternoon, taking down the Red Devils by 25. Glendive lost a narrow game to Billings Central the night before. The Laurel defense continues to lock down its opponents, having given up more than 40 points just twice and no more than 42. Laurel is still unbeaten in conference play in its first season under coach Pat Hansen, but the Locomotives host rival Billings Central on Tuesday night for the top spot in the Eastern A.
- Points were not hard to come by in Lodge Grass on Saturday night. Visiting Lame Deer scored 91 points, but it wasn’t enough to win, as Lodge Grass hung 114 on the Morning Stars. Lodge Grass had six players score in double figures, including three players score 22 points apiece. Lodge Grass and Lame Deer are both looking up at unbeaten Colstrip in District 3B, but the Indians and Morning Stars figure to be competitors for the Southern B crown.
- Rocky Boy edged Choteau at home on Saturday in a District 1B battle that will prove critical when the district tournament rolls around. Rocky Boy held Choteau to a season-low 54 points in the contest. Rocky Boy will now look to avenge earlier losses to Fairfield and Shelby to position itself for the regular-season title.
- The Glasgow girls have finally broken the streak. On Friday night, Glasgow beat Malta, 40-36, for its first win over the Mustangs in 39 games spanning 15 years. It was also Glasgow’s first conference win of the season and pulled it into a three-way tie with Malta and Poplar for third in District 2B. Both Malta and Glasgow are looking up at Harlem and Wolf Point, but the district appears wide open on any given night.
- Forsyth continued its climb in the Southern B, taking down District 4B-leading Roundup on Saturday evening. The Dogies’ only loss of the season is to last year’s Class B runner-up, Colstrip. Forsyth has been the most impressive team in District 3B to date, piling up a 9-1 record. Roundup, too, will be a contender for the Southern B title, as the Panthers are still unbeaten in conference play.
- Fairview may have been stunned by Froid-Medicine Lake in an overtime loss on Friday, but the Warriors bounced back in a big way on Saturday. Although it was a non-conference game, Fairview blasted unbeaten District 2C foe Plentywood on the road by 21. Plentywood still sits atop the conference, but Fairview and Richey-Lambert have both shown they will be challengers to that spot in the coming weeks.
- Fans in Drummond on Friday night witnessed a spectacular scoring performance by two individuals. Ennis’ Trevor Swanson busted out for 44 points, sinking eight 3-point shots, while Drummond’s Jonah Parke had 32 in a losing effort. Swanson’s 44 points mark the second-highest individual total in Montana this season, as he came up just shy of Cobe Begger’s 47 against Jordan on Jan. 4.
- The Savage girls lost a pair of games at last year’s Eastern C divisional after winning the District 2C tournament the week before, missing the State C tournament. The Warriors are on a mission this season, as they took down Plentywood, an Eastern C representative at last year’s state tournament, by 10 on the road on Friday night. Although it was a non-conference game, Savage has asserted itself as a favorite in the Eastern C, along with district rival Froid-Medicine Lake, another Eastern C representative at the 2018 State C tournament.
- Winnett-Grass Range got off to a rocky start with losses to Belt and Hobson-Moore-Judith Gap, but it has been hot as of late. The Rams took down Roy-Winifred on the road on Saturday and sit alone in third place in District 8C. Roy-Winifred nearly beat both the Huskies and Titans earlier this year. The Rams, who placed second at last year’s state tournament, will have their work cut out for them to get back to the State C tournament, as both Belt and Hobson-Moore-Judith Gap reside in District 8C, too.