Is it just me or are the four days that basketball isn’t played before the State Tournaments a letdown? I go from eating, sleeping, and breathing basketball from morning until night to checking the bracket about a billion times in my free time.
This State C Girls’ Basketball Tournament I’ll be broadcasting for Belt and Cascade for KMON. Those games will be streamed online at KMONam.com. Additionally I will be broadcasting the Circle Lady Wildcats games for Sidney’s radio station. I sure hope they enjoy the play-by-play of a Northcentral Montana kid who grew up around the game (fingers crossed).
This will be an interesting State Tournament for me for other reasons as well. I will be broadcasting this State C Girls’ Basketball Tournament with Highwood Girls’ Basketball Coach Brandon Gondeiro. I’m really looking forward to that. Brandon has a day job, unlike me, so he will be joining the broadcast for Belt’s game against Saco/Whitewater/Hinsdale.
So that left me with two games on my own, or so I thought. It is tentatively in the works to have my dad, Don Ryan, come do the color commentary while I do the play-by-play. How exciting is that? It will sure be interesting for the former coach to discuss basketball with a larger audience because it isn’t just me listening to him rant and rave on why the NBA isn’t actual basketball.
It’s full circle for my dad who got his start in coaching at the University of Montana. In the early 1970s my dad was the manager for the Grizzly Men’s Basketball team. He sat on the bench at the University of Montana next to Grizzly coaching greats like Jud Heathcote, Jim Brandenburg, and Mike Montgomery.
He is still great friends with Lady Griz Head Coach Robin Selvig who I’m sure will be peaking his head in to watch a couple of minutes of Class C action being a former Class C standout himself.
I don’t know if I’ve ever been this excited to broadcast with someone before. All the basketball knowledge my dad has in his little finger doesn’t equal all the wisdom about the game I can hope to accumulate in my lifetime. This is a fact that I always had pop into my head after getting home from a basketball game in high school.
We would sit up until God knows when discussing the game. Plays, scenarios, and my missed lay-ups were fair game. Some of those nights are my best of memories.
I can’t wait to make more of those memories this Thursday in Missoula.
Now back to the task at hand: Basketball.
Here is a little preview on what I know about some of the match ups.
GAME #1 Circle vs. Broadview/Lavina
It will be new territory for me broadcasting for a team that isn’t from Northcentral Montana. This Circle vs. Broadview/Lavina matchup should be a great one to start the State Tournament. Circle is red-hot coming off a 49-48 win over the favorite in the East Hinsdale/Saco/Whitewater. It can be said that this game turned a lot of heads, including mine, just days before heading toward Missoula. Broadview/Lavina will have a tough match up against Circle but they are coming off a successful challenge of Wibaux on Monday 39-32 after defeating Jordan in the Consolation game. That should be fun one to start of the State C Tournament. An interesting tidbit about these two teams is that they will travel a combined 773 miles to get to Dahlberg Arena. Broadview is 304 miles from Missoula and Circle is 469 miles.
GAME #2 Gardiner vs. Cascade
The Cascade Lady Badgers are good. There isn’t a doubt in the world about that. How exactly good they are we will have to double-check during out time in Missoula. With coaches like Robin McKnight and Roger Hatler on the sideline I wouldn’t doubt they will be ready for the State Tournament.
The Lady Badgers led by Elsie Carpenter who scored in double figures in every game at the Northern C Divisional Tournament will be a tough match up with Gardner. Carpenter has the potential to grab every rebound that comes off the rim and quite often it seems like she does. If she can do that against Gardiner I will be very impressed.
The Lady Bruins of Gardiner are led by Hannah Dean who has committed to play basketball at Carroll College. Dean had 18 points to lead Gardiner past Twin Bridges in the Western C Divisional Championship. Having watched Dean play a few times before I have to think she wants her trip to the State Tournament to go a little bit better than last season.
Gardiner lost an opening match up with Belt 41-30 last season and then couldn’t rebound the next afternoon when they lost to Harlowton/Ryegate 43-27. It was a one and done trip for the Lady Bruins and I can’t imagine they want that to happen again.
FYI Gardiner is 281 miles and Cascade is 178 miles from Missoula.
GAME #3 Park City vs. Twin Bridges
In the third game of the State C Girls’ Basketball Tournament Park City will battle against Twin Bridges. The Park City Lady Panthers are headed to the State Tournament for the first time in 32 years. The Lady Panthers defeated Wibaux 42-39 in the Southern C Divisional Tournament last weekend. Senior Morgan Popp scored 11 points to lead Park City in the Championship.
Twin Bridges is good. Belt Head Coach Jeff Graham is well aware of that. Well I think so too. Coach Lott’s squad reached the State Tournament by winning a challenge game against Harrison 38-35. Twin Bridges was led in scoring by Kailee Oliverson who scored 16 in the Western C Challenge Game.
Park City is 322 miles and Twin Bridges is 172 miles from Missoula.
GAME #4 Belt vs. Saco/Whitewater/Hinsdale
Well this is the one that we have been looking forward to for some time. Many though this might be the match up for the State Championship on Saturday night but because the Saco/Whitewater/Hinsdale squad lost to Circle 49-48 in their Divisional Championship we get treated to this one two days earlier.
After watching Belt play for the last two weekends I am convinced they will be the favorite in this game and the tournament but you try telling Jeff Graham that. He’s got to be on three or four different types of blood pressure meds the way he’s been sweating this season and the games going forward this year.
Belt is Belt. Belt is good. Read Sean’s earlier articles if you want some proof.
To take a look at Saco/Whitewater/Hinsdale it has to start with Tatum Moore. Moore was a fun athlete to watch play last year in Hamilton and I can only imagine she will get better. Moore is a dangerous shoot but an even better distributor. The Belt defense is going to have to make sure to keep an eye on her and fellow sharpshooter Keira Simonson. It must be brought to everyone’s attention that Saco/Whitewater was the last team to win the State C Tournament (2011) before this Belt dynasty began.
Hinsdale is 408 miles and Belt is 190 miles from the Garden City.
In total these teams will travel 2,234 miles just to play at the State C Girls’ Basketball Tournament and why not. Bring your Grandma, your Grandpa, your weird Uncle Steve, the dog, leave the cat and come to Missoula because this tournament should be one for the ages. Let’s fill up Dahlberg Arena and watch these young ladies put on one heck of a show.
Please stop by and say hi if you are in Missoula this weekend, enjoy reading my articles, and love Class C Basketball. I’ll be the guy in the gym early and leaving the gym late with one large grin on his face because he loves this time of year like no other.