Bright and early Wednesday morning basketball fans won’t have to wait any longer.
At 7:40 AM the buzzer will echo off the concrete walls of the Four Seasons Arena undoubtedly causing an usher to joke, “If I wasn’t awake yet, I’m sure awake now.”
The 20:00 on the clock will start to count down and the teams of Heart Butte and Tri-Cities will take the court to start their warmups in a chilly exhibition hall. It will be eerily quiet as the balls bounce against the temporary court with orange inlays.
Then the bands will start, and everything will change. When the pep bands start to play the open venue will become an arena and two teams kick off what should be a great tournament.
We’ve just got to wait for the melody of Joy to the World to set the atmosphere.
This week’s Northern C Divisional should be a great tournament and with eight games on tap for the Wednesday I know I’m not the only one looking forward to it.
So I’m going to preview the games for the opening day:
Here is the bracket: Divisional Basketball Tournament Bracket 2016
Game 1 8:00 AM
#3 10-C Heart Butte v. #3 8-C Tri-Cities
Heart Butte and Tri-Cities kick things off early on Wednesday morning. As two #3 seeds both teams are coming off of victories in their respective District tournaments.
Tri-Cities defeated Winnett-Grass Range 48-32 and were led in scoring by CJ Stevenson who tallied 17 points. Jace Aune and Chance McAllister added 14 and 10 markers apiece for the Titans.
For Heart Butte things were a little tighter in the consolation game that saw the Warriors defeat Simms 51-48. The Warriors were led by Chasen Kipp who scored 17 points while Malique Aimsback added 13 markers.
Game 2 9:30 AM
#1 10-C Sunburst v. #3 9-C Hays-LP
The second game of Wednesday should be an exciting one. The “Burst” comes in with an undefeated 21-0 record. Locked in a tight battle with Power for the 10-C crown Sunburst was led by Logan Simmes, Treyton Pickering, and Jackson Nagy who scored 14, 13, and 12 points for the Refiners.
Hays-Lodgepole is a wildcard coming into this tournament having defeated a strong Chinook squad 85-69. Hays Lodgepole was led in scoring by Frank Runsabove who dropped 27 markers and Jace Shambo who added 16 points.
Game 3 11:00 AM
#1 8-C Belt v. #2 9-C CJI
An 11:00 AM game doesn’t usually pack the place but this one sure will. The defending Class C State Champions are 18-3 heading into the Northern C and will benefit from playing such a tough non-conference schedule. Belt is led by Koltin Haugrose who is one of the most athletic combo guards in the state and Matt Metrione a strong force inside for the Huskies. Haugrose and Metrione who combined to score 27 of Belt’s 53 points in their 10-C Championship game win over DGS.
CJI can shoot. That became very evident against Box Elder last Saturday night when the Hi-Line Hawks had three starts hit 12 three pointers in the loss to the Bears. Troy Harmon (15 pts), Justin May (17 pts), Brandon Richter (15 pts), and Cory Richter (14 pts) each scored in double-figures for CJI in 9-C chipper.
Game 4 12:30 PM
#2 8-C DGS v. #2 10-C Power
The two #2 seeds should be each looking to get their tournament off on the right foot. It’s unique and interesting going into a first round game with the same seed as your opponent. Look for DGS to rely heavily on sharpshooter Kendall Carpenter and Conner Bokma on the inside against the Pirates.
While Power Pirate fans might be looking forward to watching their team play in the Divisional I’m more so looking forward to seeing what Griff Bye wears to the Four Seasons Arena. You just never know with that guy. Back on basketball, Power played right with undefeated Sunburst in the 10-C Championship game and they should come into Great Falls with a great deal of confidence. The Pirates were led in scoring last Saturday night by Lucas Kalanick and Chase Rossmiller who chipped in 12 and 10 points apiece.
Game 5 4:00 PM
#1 9-C Box Elder v. Heart Butte or Tri-City
The Box Elder Bears have something to prove. They are out to prove last year was a fluke after getting bounced in the first round by those scrappy Highwood Mountaineers. I imagine Coach MacDonald’s squad will be ready to play with point guard Brandon The Boy leading the offense. The Boy scored 31 points, Pernell Morsette added 17, and Jake Jones-Morsette tallied 14 for the Bears. Watch out for the long-and-lanky Jerrod Four Colors who can score in bunches as well.
Game 6 5:30 PM
#3 10-C Valier v. #3 8-C Roy-Winifred
The first girls’ basketball game of the Northern C Tournament is a battle between two #3 seeds. Valier was able to battle past Cascade 30-28 thanks to a balanced attack that saw Mariah Stoltz score 9 points.
Roy-Winifred is coming off a victory in the consolation game against Geraldine-Highwood. Lorainne Stulc led all scorers with 17 points and Brietta Boyce added 13 for the Lady Outlaws.
Game 7 7:00 PM
#1 10-C GFCC v. #3 9-C CJI
The Great Falls Central Catholic Lady Mustangs have a chance to do something Wednesday night that many people didn’t think would ever happen. The program has risen from obscurity to prominence going to the second straight Northern C Tournament. The Mustangs are led by the athletic Bryn Anderson, who scored 19 points in the 10-C Championship game, Katie Wilson who added 9 markers and Kenadee Depner who scored 7.
CJI defeated North Star, 49-43, in the consolation game of the 9-C Districts. The Hi-Line Hawks are led by Korrin Harmon who tallied a game high 23 points against the Lady Knights; Harmon hit seven three pointers in the CJI victory.
Game 8 8:30 PM
#1 8-C Belt v. #2 9-C Chinook
An 8:30 PM start isn’t ideal and I’m just going to say it now, it’s probably not going to start on time. That’s just the way these things work. It’ll be a late night at the Four Seasons Arena but this one should be worth staying up for. The Lady Huskies are out for redemption after taking 3rd at last year’s State Tournament in Missoula. The Belt Lady Huskies got the best of rival Centerville, 61-52, in the 8-C Chipper and are led by a loaded squad with too many names to mention. Coach Jeff Graham should be entertaining on the sideline as he guides his team against a very tough Chinook squad.
Chinook’s biggest moment of the season came on Friday of last week when Brooke Nicholson made a free throw in the final moments of the game to win it for the Sugarbeeters. Led by Nicholson who scored 14 points on semifinal and Championship night for Chinook; the Lady Sugarbeeters play the game the right way. They are disciplined and aren’t afraid to slow it down in the half-court against the pesky Lady Huskies.
Here’s looking forward to a great first day of the Northern C Divisional Tournament on Wednesday and seeing all you fine folks at the Four Seasons Arena.
Oh and let’s not forget, hearing some pep band music while we’re at it.