By Ryan Divish/Havre Daily News Sports Editorfirstname.lastname@example.org
A year ago, Havre Central athletic director Shannon Patterson was scrambling to get enough teams for the annual Havre Central girls basketball tournament.
This year there were plenty of teams lining up to play in the 22nd annual tournament, and Patterson thought the headaches she had last season were gone. But that would be too easy. A week ago, Medicine Hat's St. Mary's junior high pulled out, leaving Patterson a team short.
Instead of trying to find a team at the last minute, she put the Central seventh-grade team in the tournament and the problem was solved.
"It was so much easier this year," Patterson said. "We did have Medicine Hat cancel, so we asked the seventh graders, but other than that it's pretty much the same team as last year."
The long-running tournament will get under way today at 5 p.m. as the Havre Central eighth-grade squad will take on Hays-Lodge Pole in opening round action of the double-elimination tournament.
The tournament will continue on Friday with the Our Lady of Lourdes of Great Falls taking on Holy Spirit School, also of Great Falls, at 2 p.m. In other first-round action Fairfield will take on Chinook at 3:30 p.m. and Cascade will take on the Havre Central seventh-grade team at 5 p.m.
The Havre Central eighth-graders are coming into the tournament as one of the favorites, along with Cascade and Our Lady of Lourdes.
"The eighth-graders only have two losses on the season," Patterson said. "They lost to Malta and Our Lady of Lourdes in their gym."
Cascade won the Valley League that has Lourdes and Holy Spirit in it and has only lost once all season.
The 49ers are coached by Tamara Spangler and sport a 13-2 record with several players returning off of last year's tournament team.
Eighth graders Jaleesa Barthel, Katie Mariani, Stacey Sheppard, Danika Patterson, Jenna McCann, all played on last year's tournament team. Joining them are Mara Malsam, Jessica Obrecht, Stephanie Stremcha and Karly Evans.
"Tamara has been coaching this group of girls for three years," Patterson said. "She does a great job."
The Havre Central seventh-grade team also has just two losses on the year. The 49ers bring a 14-2 record into the tournament and while they are year younger, they should still be competitive.
"Our seventh-graders should be pretty comparable to the other teams," Patterson said. "They have a very good team and should be in games."
The seventh-graders are coached by Chris Daniel and include: Tabitha Beck, Amanda Hedstrom, Josi Herron, Janelle Job, Kaylee Johnson, Natalie Kato, Ashlee Kinsella and Andrea Mack.
The tournament will run today through Saturday and admission will be charged. Tournament passes will be $8 for adults and $4 for students. Single game admission will be $2 for adults and $1 for students.