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Frenchtown tournament 'signifies the start of winter' for Western A basketball teams

Posted at 10:31 PM, Dec 08, 2023

FRENCHTOWN — The Western A Tip-Off Tournament annually kicks off the Class A basketball season in western Montana.

All 13 teams, boys and girls, from the Western A — plus Eastern A teams Lewistown and Livingston and Class B Missoula Loyola — are here for two days of basketball, giving coaches and fans a preview of what might come this season.

"It’s a good opportunity for coaches to get a chance to see teams they aren’t gonna actually see during the regular season," said Frenchtown athletic director Eli Field, who organizes the tournament and helps build the schedule of games. "Gives everybody kind of a good barometer of where they’re at and maybe how divisionals is going to turn out near the end of the season or lets them know what they’re gonna need to work on to get to that divisional tournament and qualify for state."

There’s still of a lot of basketball to be played before tourney season, though, and the Tip-Off Tournament is about more than just what happens on the court.

"There’s a lot of getting reacquainted with old friends," Field said. "And you start seeing the same officials every year, those kinds of things, and familiar faces all the time that you don’t usually see all year long, but they kind of reappear come December, January, February, so that’s kind of exciting."

And it’s fun making those kinds of connections this time of year, when everybody is picturing what their seasons might hold.

"This kind of comes along and everybody’s got a new season in front of them, and there’s a lot of optimism and excitement and that’s early season (anticipation), everyone’s trying to figure out (their teams), so that’s kind of exciting and fun to see," Field said. "It definitely signifies the start of winter, and here we go."

Butte Central boys 57, Lewistown 37

Butte Central pulls away from Lewistown in matchup of past two Class A champions

In Friday's night cap of the Western A Tip-Off Tournament at Frenchtown, Butte Central's boys pulled away from Lewistown for a 57-37 win in a matchup featuring the past two Class A state champions.

Butte Central defeated Lewistown in the state championship game in 2022, and Lewistown topped Dillon for the title in 2023.

On Friday, the teams traded buckets in the early going with Lewistown eventually taking a 9-7 lead in the first quarter. But Butte Central's Owen McPartland took over the game, showcasing an array of skillful finishes around the rim and splashing a couple 3-pointers as part of a 17-2 Maroons run. GG Fantini also drilled two 3s during the run, and Butte Central took a 30-17 lead into the halftime break en route to the 20-point win.

McPartland finished with 20 points to lead the Maroons, who also got 10 points each from Jake Keeley and Joshua Sutton.

Lewistown, which had five players sidelined with injuries, got 11 points from Kason Brown and 10 from Brody Jenness.

More scores

Boys

Browning 70, Corvallis 59
Dillon 52, Columbia Falls 51
Frenchtown 52, Bigfork 48
Hamilton 67, Ronan 48
Missoula Loyola 79, Polson 38
Whitefish 65, Stevensville 35

Girls

Browning 68, Corvallis 36
Dillon 65, Columbia Falls 34
Frenchtown 40, Bigfork 37 (OT)
Hamilton 47, Ronan 45 (OT)
Lewistown 58, Butte Central 16
Livingston 56, Libby 40
Missoula Loyola 54, Polson 20
Whitefish 54, Stevensville 28