The Last of the 7-C

You ever notice how some players just have it?

Game, I mean.

Thanks to a 29 point performance on Saturday night that essentially muscled the Montana Tech Lady Orediggers into the Frontier Conference Playoffs; Montana Western knows Martha Dembek has got game.

Some of us have known that fact for quite some time now.

From the small town of Winnett, Montana, Martha Dembek was a star for Coach Vic Westphal’s squads and Saturday night’s performance brought back some memories of the former Lady Ram guiding her team, year in and year out, to the biggest games of the Northern C Divisional tournament at the Four Seasons Arena.

Seeing the Martha Dembek play great basketball at the Northern C Divisional every February was something you could always count on like getting the Toby Keith song How Do You Like Me Now stuck in your head.

Now it’s stuck in your head isn’t it? You’re welcome.

Martha Dembek and the Lady Rams always represented the 7-C so well but due to dwindling numbers and the need for redistricting the 7-C is no more. Like a ghost of basketball past, the conference’s rich history deserves to be remembered.

Players like Martha Dembek make remembering the 7-C an easier task.

In the last five games the 5-9 guard is averaging 21.9 points and 5 rebounds per game while shooting 47 percent from the floor and 48 percent three point land. But what is it that has gotten Dembek going as of late?

Could it just be that time of year that drives the junior sharpshooter? I mean it is tournament time.

When asked about what she remembers most about the Northern C Divisional and this time of year Martha said, “I loved tournament time and the feeling of playing in that crazy rivalry atmosphere. I miss that. There was nothing like it.”

Amen to that.

Another thing I think we’ll be missing from this year’s Northern C is Winnett/Grass Range. This year marks the first year in what seems like forever that the Lady Rams and Coach Westphal won’t be at Northcentral Montana’s biggest dance.

Seeing Vic at the Northern C was the equivalent of seeing the Shawshank Redemption on AMC. It was familiar and you couldn’t help but be drawn to rooting for the Lady Rams like Andy Dufresne was drawn to long term tunneling.

Basketball minds knew it would be more of a challenge to make it to Divisional coming from the District 8-C, even with three teams coming out instead of two.

But nonetheless it will be different without the familiar black and gold of that Central Montana co-op filling the Four Seasons Arena.

There will be some Winnett faithful in Great Falls on Friday night but they will be at the McLaughlin Center cheering on the former 7-C standout Dembek as she and the Lady Diggers attempt to get their third win in a row.

Isn’t it crazy how things change?

The 7-C is gone, Winnett/Grass Range didn’t make the Northern C Divisional, and Martha Dembek is playing somewhere else on a Friday night in February than the Four Seasons Arena.

But some of us haven’t forgotten the days when the 7-C was as strong as any other conference in Northcentral Montana or when Martha Dembek was hitting threes while wearing the black and gold.

No matter the jersey she wears though she’s still got game.

And the 7-C helped show it to the world.



3 thoughts on “The Last of the 7-C

  1. Doreen Heintz, sports editor February 22, 2016 / 10:04 am

    great story. Any chance I could run it in the Lewistown News-Argus. We tried to figure out at the District 8C tournament how long it had been since Winnett-Grass Range had not gone to the divisional tournament. If memory serves me right, I think it was when Martha was a freshman. Will check my archives for sure.


    • Sean Ryan February 22, 2016 / 10:07 am

      Thank you! I know it’s been awhile. I would love to have you guys run it in your paper. Feel free to email me if you need at


  2. Stacy Stimpson February 22, 2016 / 5:32 pm

    Martha and her fellow 7C Rams teammates always helped make the Northern Divisional Tournament a great place to be to watch exciting Class C basketball. The Rams will be missed and I’m delighted to know Martha’s game and her wonderful personality are lighting it up for the Diggers.


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