The Northern C Divisional never disappoints and I know I’m not the only person looking forward to settling in to watch what will be 28 total games of Class C action.
Remember to tune in to KINX 102.7 in the Great Falls listening area to hear the Star Radio broadcast team bring you all the games. Games can also be heard online at https://network1sports.com/station/kinx.
So here is my preview of the teams participating in the Northern C Divisional:
Belt is the cream of the crop until proven otherwise. The Lady Huskies are led by dynamic players like Kerstyn Pimperton, Dani Urick, and Sara Anderson to name a few. The depth of the Huskies became very apparent when they threw line changes out in the 8C Championship against Roy/Winifred and didn’t miss a beat. The Huskies open up with 10C Cascade Wednesday 9:30 PM.
Roy/Winifred is something to be reckoned with coming in as the No. 2 seed from the 8C. The Outlaws are coached by two of the most entertaining coaches to watch in co-head coaches Marietta Boyce and Mauri Elness. The Outlaws play tough physical defense that limits teams from penetrating their 1-2-2 zone. Watch out for the Outlaws when they take on Fort Benton Wednesday at 12:30 PM.
Winnett-Grass Range is always ready to play and with an 8 AM game to start the Northern C Tournament they had better be. The Rams played neck and neck with Roy/Winifred in their semifinal matchup in Lewistown and beat a tough Centerville team twice in three days. The Rams make tough shots and get better when they go to the bench to bring in Taylor Stahl as their sixth-man. I love the energy the Rams play with and think they will match up quite well with North Star early Wednesday morning. The winner of that game goes on the play 10C power Great Falls Central.
Box Elder has proven year after year that they are a tough team when it comes to tournament time. As the number one team in the 9C Box Elder has been riding high all year thanks to their up-tempo style of play and ability to shoot from downtown. The Bears dominated in the 9C Chipper against Fort Benton and will have plenty of confidence as they return to the Four Seasons Arena. The Bears play 8C No. 3 seed Simms at 11 AM on Wednesday.
Fort Benton enters the Northern C Divisional with a tough matchup against Roy/Winifred at 12:30 PM. The Longhorns are coming to the Four Seasons with an opportunity to prove the 9C isn’t a one team conference. The Longhorns have proven solid but their matchup with the Outlaws will be a big indicator to the strength of the 9C compared to the 8C.
North Star had to fight their way back after losing to Fort Benton in a Thursday night semifinal. The Knights are going to have a tough one to start off with a strong and physical WGR team. Also, playing at 8AM is never an easy task. The Four Seasons will be very empty to start the day off and I think the Knights must defend the Rams high-low attack well to have a chance.
Great Falls Central hasn’t been tested all year. Let’s get that elephant in the room out of the way early. Led by Bryn Anderson and Kenadee Depner the Mustangs have experience at the Northern C in recent years. However, the Mustangs are a defensive juggernaut with their press and half-court trap. If Anderson gets out in transition and Depner can clear the boards for the Mustangs look for them to make a run. They play the winner of WGR and North Star Wednesday at 4 PM
The Simms Tigers are a team that brings a good bit of energy with them to the floor every time they take it. The Tigers utilized a 1-3-1 in one of the games I saw in the 10C and their length with the Willekes sisters really makes them a force. Simms is going to need to shoot the ball well from outside to have a chance against Box Elder in the 11 AM game Wednesday.
Cascade had to fight their way back through consolation action at the 10C to earn their trip to Divisionals. Led by Gary Lucero the Badgers rebound well from the guard spots and aren’t afraid to shoot from outside. With Oliver on the inside the Badgers can bother a lot of shots and force teams to chuck it up from outside on the defensive end. I don’t think the Badgers could have a tougher draw facing defending State Champ Belt in the 9:30 AM game Wednesday.
The Belt boys are talented and very well coached. They make all the simple plays and have some great talent to push them over the top. Jess Bodner can score on anybody and Keegan Stroop and Harry Green make the Huskies very fast in transition. The bruising Jaren Maki makes Belt a complete team with his hustle plays and nose for the ball. Look for the Huskies to take control early when they take on Power at 7 PM on Wednesday night.
Centerville punched their ticket to the Northern C Divisional with a big win over DGS in the late semifinal in Lewistown. Led by Kade Landon, Carson McGinness, and Briggs Judd the Miners are athletic and could compete with teams in the tournament. Defensively I like how hard and in your face the Miners play but offensively they have to clean things up to be successful in the Four Seasons. Centerville takes on 9C No. 2 Hays-Lodgepole Thursday at 9:30 AM.
DGS hasn’t played well lately. Stumbling late in their loss to Centerville in the semifinal round of the 8C tournament was a tough break but the Bearcats rebounded. Rhet Woodhall can score with the best of them and he has proven himself to be option numero uno for DGS. Sean Bronec on the inside also presents a tough matchup for teams who have to step over to stop the driving Woodhall. I like DGS and their chances as they open things up Wednesday against 9C No. 3 seed Chinook at 5:30 PM.
Box Elder claimed their fifth 9C Championship in a row with an upset of Hays-Lodgepole. The Bears are always a fun team to watch at tournament time and I expect nothing less than that as they return to the Four Seasons. Led by Jeremy MacDonald, the Bears are a well-coached team that can really score the basketball and force turnovers. It should be a heck of a ballgame as the Bears open up with Heart Butte in Wednesday night’s final showdown at 8:30 PM.
Hays-Lodgepole was a bit shell-shocked by Box Elder in the 9C Chipper and hopefully the hangover from that loss doesn’t stick with the Thunderbirds too long. Led by Tyson Shambo who can shoot the ball from anywhere in the gym the Thunderbirds can score with the best of them. If their press is as effective as years past watch out for Hays-Lodgepole. The Thunderbirds take on Centerville at 9:30 AM Thursday morning.
Chinook was able to advance out of the 9C and earn the No. 3 spot coming out of Havre. The Sugarbeeters are going to have a tough test ahead of them when they take on DGS. Lanky youth in years past is turning into a strong inside game currently for the Sugarbeeters who come to the Northern C ready to make some noise. I like the foundation Chinook has and the Sugarbeeters are always set to have a little hi-line magic come their way in the Four Seasons. Chinook takes on 8C No. 3 DGS at 5:30 PM Wednesday.
Sunburst is really fun to watch. They play hard, fast, and in your face for the full 32 minutes. Led by Pickering on the inside the Refiners can work the ball inside out with the best of them and have the shooters on the arc to make teams pay for doubling down inside. Pickering has the ability to be the best player in the Northern C Divisional as only a junior. Sunburst will play the winner of the Chinook DGS game on Thursday at 11 AM.
Heart Butte is going to be involved in one of the most anticipated games of the whole tournament when they take on Box Elder at 8:30 PM Wednesday. Heart Butte hung close with Sunburst for the first 16 minutes before fading. Watch out for the Warriors as anything can happen when two high powered teams face off in a late game at the Four Seasons. This one is going to be fun to watch.
Power was able to work their way back through the 10C District Tournament after a poor performance resulted in a loss to Valier. With crafty Griff Bye coaching these Pirates anything can happen. Power is strong defensively and I like the way their top of the key dribble-drive handoff offense forces opposing defenses into tough switching situations. If the Pirates can shoot it well they could be really fun to watch on the big court. Power plays Belt at 7 PM on Wednesday. I can’t wait to see what kind of Hawaiian shirt Griff has picked out for that one.