By George Ferguson
The competition in Montana high school volleyball becomes just a little tougher as state tournament berths are on the line. Several Hi-Line teams are still looking for trips to the state championship and those roads lead through Choteau and Belt.
Four District 6C teams are still alive after last weeks district tournament in Chester. Sunburst, Chester, KG and Big Sandy will all be in action today at the Northern C divisional tournament in Belt. Two state tournament berths are up for grabs.
The Sunburst Refiners come into Belt as the number one seed and will square off against the Highwood Mountaineers at 12:30 p.m. The Refiners enter the divisional tournament with just one loss on the season, and no team in the tournament has managed to defeat the Refiners this season.
Thirty minutes after the conclusion of that match, the Big Sandy Pioneers will take on the host Belt Huskies. The Pioneers finished third in the 6C district tournament and the Huskies finished second in the 7C district tournament. Big Sandy head coach Leena Leeds feels fairly confident in her team's chances going into this weekend's tournament.
"I am feeling pretty good about our chances," Leeds said. "The girls are playing pretty well right now but we can't underestimate any of the teams from the other district."
Tonight at 6:30 p.m. the KG KouGars will take the court to face district 7C champion Dutton-Brady. The KouGars rallied to take fourth place in the 6C tournament last week including a first-round win over the Pioneers.
Thirty minutes following the Dutton-KG match, the Chester Coyotes will square off against the Valier Panthers in the final first-round contest. Chester finished second in the 6C district tournament falling to Sunburst twice.
Despite the fact that Leeds list's the Refiners the favorite to capture the divisional title, she says the tournament is wide open.
"I think that Sunburst is definitely the favorite," Leeds said. "But there are a lot of good teams in this tournament and everybody is going to have to play really well to get to state."
The Chinook Sugarbeeters will look to continue what has been a very successful season thus far. The Beeters head to Choteau for the Northeast B divisional tournament as the District 2B champion. The Beeters have only two losses this season and defeated the Malta M-Ettes twice in five games to win the 2B title on their home floor.
This week the Beeters will again be favored to compete for the divisional title, but they will face heavy opposition from District 1B champion Shelby and highly ranked Choteau. The Coyotes upset Choteau last week in the 1B championship game.
Chinook will open the tournament today against the Simms Tigers. Simms finished fourth in the 1B tournament. Following that match Choteau will face Plentywood. The morning session will see Shelby play Wolf Point and Malta will face Cut Bank. The second round winners matches are also scheduled for tonight at 6:00 p.m. and 7:30.
There isn't much football history between Havre and Miles City but there is one big piece of history that is stuck in the minds of many Havreites and former Blue Pony players.
The last time the Ponies and Cowboys faced off on the football field the year was 1994 and the setting was the state championship game in Miles City. On that fateful day, the Ponies were pounded by the Cowboys 42-7. Although the current Havre team was most likely in fourth grade and Havre head coach Troy Purcell was coaching in Eureka, revenge will be on the minds of many when the Cowboys come into Blue Pony Stadium on Saturday.
Perhaps the biggest football game outside of Havre has to be in Great Falls. Another chapter will be added to the storied history of CMR and Great Falls High football clashes. The Rustler's and Bison have met four times in the playoffs and all were state championship games.
Friday night they will meet in the Class AA semifinals at Memorial Stadium. The Rustlers knocked off the Bison in the final game of the regular season two weeks ago.