State C Boys Preview
The Thunderbirds (21-2) won the Northern C in dramatic fashion with a 65-61 victory over Box Elder in one of the most entertaining games I’ve seen in a while. The purple and gold clad squad from northcentral Montana is guided by Derrick Shambo. Shambo’s squad is lightning quick in transition and has some real playmakers in Jace and Tyson Shambo. Hays has just two losses on the season with an early season loss to Arlee and a loss in the 9C Championship to Box Elder. Both losses have come against teams that have qualified for the Class C State Tournament which is really saying something. Look for some big things out of the Thunderbirds who are looking to get their first State Championship since the late great A.J. Long Soldier led the Thunderbirds to the title in 2007.
First Game: 2PM v. 2E Fairview
The Bears of Box Elder High School (18-4) are the defending State Champions entering this weekend’s action in Bozeman. The Bears, who beat Northern C Champion Hays-Lodgepole in the 9C Championship before falling in the Northern C title tilt, are coached by a class act of a coach in Jeremy MacDonald. MacDonald’s Bears have won two of the last three Class C State Championships and are led by Pernell Morsette, Tanner Parisian, and Trey Henderson. Morsette who plays as cool and collected as they come scored a game-high 29 points in the Northern C Championship against Hays-Lodgepole. Watch out for Box Elder to make a run this weekend after ending up on the “easier” side of the bracket.
First Game: 8PM v. 1E Scobey
The Bridger Scouts (17-6) won the Southern C Divisional last weekend defeating Plenty Coups 79-64. With the Southern C playing their tournament a week later than the others around Montana it will be interesting to see if the Scouts ride momentum off their five-game winning streak or have their legs be affected by the quick turnaround. Traditionally the South is the weakest of the divisions at the State Tournament and Bridger will look to end that way of thinking when they take on Manhattan Christian who is becoming a mainstay out of the Western C.
First Game: 6:30PM v. 2W Manhattan Christian
Plenty Coups (14-8) enters the State Tournament fresh off a challenge game win over Melstone Monday night. The Warriors have the fewest wins of anyone in the field but coming off a challenge game in they will have momentum as they gear up for Arlee. What a ballgame to tipoff the State Tournament for Buddy Windyboy’s team as they take on Class C favorite Arlee in what should be a dandy of a ballgame.
First Game: 12:30PM v. 1W Arlee
The Scobey Spartans (20-1) are riding an 18-game winning streak into Brick Breeden. The Spartans won State in 2011 and defeated Frazer in the Eastern C Championship two weeks ago. What the Spartans lack in size they might just make up for in shooting. Scobey is finally hitting their stride when it comes to team health as well so watch out for the Spartans who drew a tough matchup with Box Elder to kick things off. To all the Spartan faithful I’m friends with I wish you all the luck, the Spartans might need it to get past the defending State Champs Thursday night.
First Game: 8PM v. 2N Box Elder
The Fairview Warriors (18-6) defeated Frazer 67-61 in a challenge game at the Eastern C Divisional. Fairview had a runner-up finish in 2015 to the Belt Huskies. If there is one thing we can bank on with Eastern C teams is that these boys can shoot the rock. The matchup with Hays-Lodgepole is going to require the Fairview Warriors to play with poise against the Thunderbird defensive pressure. If Fairview can make contested shots look for a back and forth ballgame between them and Hays-Lodgepole.
First Game: 2PM v. Hays-Lodgepole
The Arlee Warriors (22-1) are the favorite this weekend in Bozeman. Zanen Pitts team features some real talent in guard Phllip Malatare who impressed a number of folks at last year’s State Tournament. Malatare scored a game-high 26 in the Warrior win over Manhattan Christian in the Western C Chipper. Tyler Tanner is also a huge contributor for the Warriors who lost to Box Elder last spring in the State Championship. Arlee is a high-flying, fast paced, razzle dazzle kind of team that is surely going to put some butts in the seats at Brick Breeden.
First Game: 12:30PM v. 2S Plenty Coups
Manhattan Christian (21-4) is becoming quite comfortable playing in the State Tournament under Coach Jeff Bellach. The Eagles lost to Arlee in the Western C Championship 85-67, but defeated Ennis in a barn burner of a challenge game in Butte two weeks ago, 59-57. The Eagles feature a couple of horses on the inside they like to feed the ball into which opens up outside shooting for their guards Joey Lodine and Caleb Bellach. James Ramirez has been a consistent contributor for Bellach on the inside and recorded a monster 21 point 13 rebound performance against Arlee in the Western C finale. Manhattan Christian has a great chance to take home some hardware from this State Tournament being on the opposite side of Arlee and Hays-Lodgepole.
First Game: 6:30PM v. 1S Bridger
Sean Ryan is a graduate from Montana Tech and broadcasts Class C tournament basketball games for KINX 102.7 FM in Great Falls.