I always joke around tournament time that, “the only time I got to go to the Northern C Divisional Tournament in high school was with a bag of popcorn and a ticket.”
There is something to be said about a team advancing to the Northern C Divisional Tournament. To be one of the few teams to make it out of their District Tournaments is quite the achievement.
I’ve always really enjoyed the Northern C Divisional Tournament. It is the big stage. I remember when I couldn’t get enough basketball growing up I’d go watch Great Falls CBA team the Explorers play on that same court. It’s the big stage, 94 feet of hardwood put together just for this basketball tournament.
Some of my favorite memories of the Divisional Tournament include watching the Big Sandy Pioneers play round ball. In 2010, Big Sandy was the crème de la crème of Northern C Basketball. And why shouldn’t they have been. They were huge.
I had the distinct pleasure (that’s sarcasm) of playing Big Sandy in football my freshman and sophomore seasons. To paint that picture, it was all 6 foot 170 pounds of me lining up on the line to go against a frontline a AA school would be more than happy to have. Needless to say I got put on my backside more times than I would like to admit but for the sake of honesty I’ll tell you this.
After the games against the Big Sandy Pioneers I would bring home my football laundry for your loving mother to do. I try to give her credit because there are few smells worse than that bag of football laundry. Well I am reminded of a hilarious question my mom asked after playing against Big Sandy.
She asked innocently, “Why do you have all these grass stains on your back, Sean?”
I would roll my eyes (which is against the rules in my house) and grumble something like, “You were at the game weren’t you?”
Well, to be a little more descriptive, most plays against Big Sandy would go something like this. Coach would send in the play for the defense and I would get down in my three-point stance. I would look across the line and see either the mountain of a man Blake Brumwell or the intimidating Taylor Ophus whom I am good friends with now. The ball would be snapped. I would be uprooted like a tree in a windstorm and end up looking up toward the sky from the flat of my back.
I never had the chance to play against Big Sandy in basketball because they were in the District 9C. For that I am thankful. That Big Sandy squad who won State in 2010 had three seniors for Coach Roy Lackner whom went on to play college sports. The six-foot-seven Blake Brumwell is still playing basketball for Montana State, the six-foot-six Corbin Pearson is still dominating at the Frontier Conference level at MSU-Northern, and Taylor Ophus who started on the offensive line for Montana Tech as a true freshman.
There was nothing like going to the Four Seasons Arena after getting out of a day of school that seemed to drag on like Christmas Eve when you were a little kid. Most often watching the semifinal games included getting to watch the Big Sandy Pioneers.
This season the favorite coming into the Northern C Divisional on the boy’s side is the squad from Box Elder. The Bears under the direction of Coach Jeremy McDonald are the defending State Champions after going after their second State Championship in a row after winning in the Butte Civic Center last March.
Watching the Bears has been a pleasure the past three seasons and broadcasting their games is always a blast. Led by point guard Brandon The Boy, the Bears play a fast tempo game that incorporates fancy passing, quick cuts across the lane, and more than their fair share of trey balls from way downtown. I look forward to broadcasting the State Tournament this year for KMON in the Metra in Billings and I will look forward to it even more if the Box Elder Bears can make it there.
The group of teams in Great Falls this weekend is more than anyone could ask for. The Northern C Divisional is going to be a wild one. So if you’re in the area or you’ve got a full tank of gas head on over to the Pacific Steel and Recycling Four Seasons Arena and watch some spectacular basketball.
Two of the teams from the Northern C will take their talents to Billings two weeks from now will no doubt continue to add to the storied legacy of NorthCentral Montana Class C basketball. If I was a betting man I’d put all my money on the Northern C, because that’s where basketball is at its best.
So when the Northern C Championships are decided on Friday and Saturday nights you can bet I’ll be there in the Pacific Steel and Recycling Four Seasons Arena with a bag of popcorn in hand and still trying to walk off the pain from playing the Big Sandy Pioneers in football so many years ago.
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