By George Ferguson
It isn't likely that a lot Chinook High School girls basketball fans were planning to travel back down Highway 2 to Glasgow this weekend for the girls North-East B Divisional basketball tournament. But the Beeters are barging their way into the divisional with a scintillating performance last weekend.
Chinook enters the tournament with an 8-14 record after making a remarkable run to a third-place finish at last weekend's District 2B tournament in Wolf Point. The Beeters, who entered as the sixth seed, won three games including an upset of third-seeded Plentywood and a thrilling one-point triumph over Glasgow in the consolation game.
"We won almost as many games in the district tournament as we had all season," said Chinook head coach Pat O'Brien. "But the the girls played well in that tournament and we're still here."
The Beeters struggled at times through the season, but have found new success under O'Brien, who returned to the bench after a long absence.
"I think this has been a matter of the girls getting used to our system and getting comfortable with a new coach," O'Brien said. "Now, I think they are figuring out what we're trying to accomplish and they are understanding the system. They are also starting to not just trust me as a coach, but also each other. You're seeing the results now."
The Beeters enter an ultra-competitive North-East B divisional tournament that features Class B's top-rated team in Wolf Point (19-1) as well as ranked teams in Shelby (18-3), Fairfield (18-3) and Fort Benton (15-6). The tournament also has perennial Class B power Malta (14-8).
"I think this is going to be a very exciting tournament," O'Brien said. "Shelby and Wolf Point are the teams to beat because they are talented, deep and experienced. Fairfield is also very strong and no one should forget about Malta."
As for the Beeters, they will definitely have their hands full this weekend, but O'Brien hopes to emulate their surprising run at the district tournament starting against first-round opponent Fort Benton.
"We like the fact that we are playing (Fort Benton)," O'Brien said. "We have seen them twice and we played them pretty well the second time around. I think the kids feel good about their chances because we know what to expect and what they are going to do."
In a field of very good Class B teams, O'Brien said that confidence will be his biggest teams ally, if it is to keep it's remarkable post-season run going.
"Getting the girls to believe they can play is the biggest factor," O'Brien said. "If they understand that they are a good team and they believe, then hopefully some of our momentum will carry over and we will make people stand up and notice us in this tournament."
The North-East B begins today at 1 p.m. at the Glasgow High Gymnasium. Chinook and Fort Benton are slated to tipoff at 2:30 p.m. All of the Beeters games can be heard on 101.3 KRYK-FM.