State C Girls Preview
The Belt Huskies (23-1) have to be the favorite in this year’s Class C State Tournament. The Huskies won their seventh, I repeat seventh, consecutive Northern C Divisional Championship over Roy/Winifred last weekend in Great Falls 47-29. The powerhouse team led by a man never lacking energy in Jeff Graham will be a force to be reckoned with as they arrive undefeated against Class C opponents to the Class C State Tournament with their only loss coming to Class B power Malta early in the year. The Huskies are led by Dani Urick who tallied a game-high 17 points in the Northern C Championship as well as recent UGF commit Kerstyn Pimperton and Sara Anderson. Also in the starting lineup are bigs Kassie Hoyer and Adrian Malek who both help the Huskies on the defensive end and in the rebounding battle against taller teams. Belt is looking for their fifth title in six years in Belgrade this weekend where they won their second in a row back in 2013 when they defeated Winnett-Grass Range 40-34. The Huskies start their tournament at 2PM against Froid/Medicine Lake the 2-seed out of the East.
Roy/Winifred enters the 2017 Class C State Tournament with an impressive 19-5 record especially when you factor in their formidable 8C Conference that featured Belt, Centerville, and Winnett-Grass Range as well as other really impressive teams. In fact, the 8C saw its teams (Belt, Roy/Winfred, and Winnett-Grass Range) go 8-2 at the Northern C Divisional and had three of the four teams playing on semifinal night. This reminds me of a funny story about Terry Bakken’s State Championship Runner-up Antelope boys team that finished with six losses in 1975, all of them coming against eventual State Champion Westby. The Outlaws are led by Lorianne Stulc who seems to do it all for her team. The size and 3-2 zone that Roy/Winifred plays so well with their length will make it very difficult on teams who rely on guard play to get them going. Co-head coaches Mauri Elness and Marietta Boyce will have their girls ready to play and if they play well enough they might match back up with Belt on Saturday night. The Outlaws begin their State Tournament with Savage, the 1-seed out of the East, in the nightcap of Thursday’s action.
Harlowton (22-2) enters the Class C State Tournament riding a nine-game win streak. The Engineers won the Southern C Divisional and are headed back to the big stage for the first time since 2014. Led by head coach Greg Wasson, Harlowton defeated Broadview-Lavina 30-28. Harlowton was led in the Southern C title game by Mariah Dietrich who tallied a game-high 11 points including important buckets down the stretch. Watch for Harlowton to try and make some noise at this year’s tournament starting with their matchup against Western C 2-seed Arlee.
Broadview-Lavina is making their third straight trip to the State Tournament despite losing in the Southern C Divisional Championship to Harlowton 30-28. Led by head coach Jenny Auer the Pirates rely on the offense of Krista Schott and Chloe Hanser. The Pirates shot just 18 percent in the second half of the loss to Harlowton. Broadview-Lavina takes on perennial Western C power Twin Bridges in the State Tournament opener at 12:30 P.M. Thursday.
The Savage Warriors (20-4) are making their first appearance at the State Tournament in school history, which is quite a feat. The new kids on the block (an unfortunate Marky-Mark reference I apologize for) defeated Froid/Medicine Lake 41-39 in a tightly contested Eastern C Championship. Soda rice led the way for Savage with 10 points and seven boards in the contest. The Warriors, led by head coach Darcy Kessel, will start with a tough matchup against powerful Roy/Winifred at 8 P.M. in the last game on Thursday night.
Froid/Medicine Lake reenters the State C Tournament with a 22-3 record with those three loses coming by a combined 10 points. The Redhawks had to play a challenge game against Scobey-Opheim which they dominated the Spartans 40-18 last weekend. Morgan Mason and Makenzie Dethman combined to score 19 points and control the boards for the Redhawks. Froid/Medicine Lake starts the State Tourney with the dangerous Belt Huskies at 2 P.M. on Thursday.
Twin Bridges (24-0) brings an undefeated record to the State Tournament and are led by new head coach Josh Keller who takes over for longtime sideline presence Rob Lott. Keller, the son of Montana Western head coach Steve, has the Falcons playing well. The imposing Kailee Oliverson who is 6’3” and RaeAnne Bendon who plays the important guard spot for the Falcons are the two top players for their squad. Twin Bridges opens their tournament with Broadview-Lavina at 12:30 Thursday afternoon. Looking ahead Twin is on the same side of the bracket as the favorite Belt Huskies.
The Arlee Warriors (18-5) had a 14-game win streak snapped in their 43-39 loss to Twin Bridges in the Western C Championship. Alyssia Vanderburg leads the Warriors on offense and defense. The Warriors utilize their size and look to be a difficult matchup against teams in the State Tournament. Arlee also has experience on their side from playing in the Class C State Tournament in Great Falls last year. The Warriors take on the Southern C 2-seed Harlowton Engineers at 6:30 P.M on Thursday night.
Sean Ryan broadcasts Class C tournament basketball games for KINX 102.7 FM in Great Falls and will be calling the games for Belt and Roy/Winifred in Belgrade this weekend. Follow him on Twitter @Mr_SeanRyan for score updates and more stories.