My State C Boys’ Tournament Preview- Why I Can’t Wait For Billings

Fresh off a State C Girls’ Basketball Tournament that exhibited emotion, energy, excitement and an environment like no other at the Adams Center in Missoula; I can’t help but look forward to next weekend.

That’s right folks. It is officially State C Boys’ Basketball Tournament time.

Click here for the Tournament Bracket

Fill up the tank, book your hotel rooms, pack your bags, get the neighbor kid to collect your mail, and head down to Billings.

After the conclusion of the Southern C Boys’ Divisional Tournament this weekend the bracket is set and boy is it a doozy.

There isn’t a team in this tournament that you can move into the loser-out contests right away. I happen to think this might be one of the best State C Boys’ Tournaments ever.

Alright now that I’ve billed it up enough, here are the matchups and my previews for them.

Game No. 1        Fairview vs. Broadview/Lavina 12:30 PM

The State Tournament kicks off with what should be a wild one. The Warriors of Fairview are the No. 1 seed coming out of the Eastern C Divisional. Fairview defeated two time State C Boys’ second place finisher Westby/Grenora 60-50 two weekends ago in what had to be a wild contest.

The Fairview Warriors are led by versatile guard Monte Cayko (pronounced Psycho) and Pat and Ben Hardy. Pat Hardy and Cayko scored 15 apiece in the Eastern C Divisional and Ben Hardy added 12 for the Warriors. The only loss for the Fairview Warriors in District 2C action was against Westby/Grenora in the District Championship game.

Broadview/Lavina on the other hand will be tough to handle for Fairview as the No. 2 seed out of the Southern C. Broadview Lavina was led in scoring in the Divisional Championship by Scott Bymaster who had 20, Taylor Bienvenue who dropped 16, and 6’10 Seth Christiaens who scored 10, but rolled an ankle early on in the semifinal game the night before. Christiaens had 69 dunks in the regular season for the Pirates. Seriously, this kid dunks the ball more than a vintage game of NBA Jam. (Don’t worry the younger readers will get this reference, it was a must have at sleepovers)

This should be a great matchup to start the State Tournament.

Game No. 2        Manhattan Christian vs. Highwood 2:00 PM

The No. 1 seed out of the West, Manhattan Christian, is going to be a tough test for the Highwood Mountaineers the No. 2 seed out of the always tough Northern C.

Having watched Manhattan Christian play in the Western C Divisional, I have to say one thing, they are tough. Under the direction of former Montana Tech Oredigger All-Star Jeff Bellach the Eagles will be a force in the State Tournament. Bellach has got some studs on his team that enters the Metra with a perfect 24-0 record after defeating previously unbeaten Arlee.

As for the Highwood Mountaineers, the No. 2 seed out of the Northern C, they’ve got a heck of a Head Coach as well in Aaron Skogen. He is the best coach in the Montana in my opinion. He has taken Highwood to the Divisional Tournament every year he’s been at the helm, which in the District 8C isn’t an easy task.

The Mountaineers are led by five seniors. Depth is their Achilles heel because they can’t go much deeper than those starting five. They do have a sophomore that comes off the bench well for short spurts in Louis Aron, but it’s really the five of Logan Ferda, Luke Davison, Jordan Lafontaine, Darren Malek, and Jak Malek that has gotten this team to this final. Luke Davison was about as phenomenal as you can be in the Northern C Divisional averaging 24.3 points per game over those three contests where the Mountaineers defeated defending champ Box Elder, DGS, and fought the good fight with a talented Belt squad (No. 1 in the polls).

Game No. 3        Northern Cheyenne vs. Arlee 6:30 PM

For the third game of the State C Boys’ Tournament you had better get there early. It’s going to be good old fashioned run and gun basketball. Northern Cheyenne defeated Broadview/Lavina 74-66. Northern Cheyenne had three players scored in double-digits in the Southern C Championship game in Freddie Blackwolf (23), Josh Smith (22), and Sonny Crazymule (10).

The Arlee Warriors who were a perfect 23-0 coming into the Western C Championship game are going to be a tough squad to stop. Heck they only lost to Manhattan Christian by six points, MCH’s closest game of the year. Arlee led after the first quarter against the Eagles. Arlee was led in scoring in that contest by Tyler Tanner (19), Patrick Big Sam (16), and Justis Haynes (14).

That should be a wild one that I can’t wait to watch at the State C Boys’ Basketball Tournament.

Game No. 4        Belt vs. Westby/Grenora 8:00 PM

The nightcap of the Belt Huskies vs. Westby/Grenora should be a fantastic nightcap of a great day of basketball. The Huskies are good. Led by sharpshooter Koltin Haugrose and streaky point guard Parker McCafferty it should be a great matchup with Westy/Grenora who has taken home a second place trophy at State the last two seasons. The Huskies under the direction of Kyle Paulson should be ready to step out and make a statement at State. Belt is fast, tough, mean, and most important they are hungry.

A big reason for that is Cooper Olson. The kid is the real deal. He’s an Eastern Montana/Western North Dakota kid who you know grew up in the gym. His jumpers and leapin’ leaners are so smooth I’m convinced they don’t even touch the nylon. He and Daulton Holecek were a big reason the Thunder advanced to the State C Boys’ Championship last year defeating DGS and Superior.

Either way this whole weekend shakes out it is sure to be a great one. I can’t look at this bracket and see a game that I won’t be glued to the action for. There is no undercard for this first day of State C Boys’ Tournament action, and I’m sure the boys will prove that over the weekend. We’ve got 12 games left to go here in Class C Basketball and if you’ve got any sense in the world, you had best be making it to Billings to watch this tournament.

And don’t forget to tip that neighbor kid who collects your mail when you get back home.


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