By George Ferguson/Havre Daily News Sportsemail@example.com
The sound of screaming and yelling as well as orange balls bouncing against the hardwood up and down the Hi-Line this week is the familiar sound of high school basketball tournaments being played.
For several area teams, it is a chance to shake off anything that has happened to them in the regular season and start fresh.
For the Chinook Sugarbeeters boys basketball team, it will be very unfamiliar territory when it takes the floor this afternoon in the opening round of the District 1B tournament in Cut Bank.
For years, the Beeters have been a member of District 2B, but for this season and this season only, Chinook is in 1B. They will be dropping down to Class C next season.
Chinook (1-17) will open the 1B tournament today at 1 p.m. when it takes on the Shelby Coyotes (7-11). Shelby defeated Chinook in both meetings this season. The Beeters however played Shelby close in both meetings and will certainly have a chance to advance into the semifinal round.
Chinook is led in scoring by Adam Hayes but the Beeters also get solid production from Marty Birky and Jordan Lybeck.
The 1B tournament features three of perhaps the top ten teams in all of Class B basketball,so the atmosphere should be exciting. Top-ranked Fairfield (18-0) has a bye in the opening round and could conceivably advance to the Northern B divisional tournament next week without winning a single game. Other first-round matchups include Cut Bank (15-3) taking on Conrad (13-5).
Meanwhile, just down Highway 2 in Shelby, the District 10C tournament should be equally as exciting.
It has been a wild season in District 10C basketball. Heart Butte captured the regular season title with a 12-6 record and draws a bye in today's first round. But every team in the league has a win over the other this season, which makes trying to pick a winner that much more difficult.
The Chester Coyotes come into today's first-round matchup with Valier with a less than impressive 8-10 overall record. The Panthers meanwhile are 5-13 overall.
Chester finished fourth in the final regular season standings and dropped a pair of close home games last weekend that put them there.
Still, the Coyotes are one of the most talented and deep teams in the league, led by the likes of Patrick Wicks and Isaac VanDyke. Chester has also been getting solid contributions from Stetson Brown as of late. Chester will meet the Panthers today at 4 p.m. The other first round game will pit Dutton-Brady (9-8) against Sunburst (11-7).
The District 2B tournament is already under way in Malta and the Harlem Wildcats, who suffered through their worst regular season in seven years, pulled off a mild upset when they knocked off the host Malta Mustangs, 67-43 on Wednesday afternoon.
The Wildcats broke open a tight game in the third quarter by outscoring Malta 20-9 in the third period. Harlem also tacked on 22 more points in the fourth quarter to earn the easy victory and earn a spot in the semifinals.
Harlem got 15 points from Neeko Bigby and 12 points from Craig Adams in the win. Eddie Moore also chipped in with 10 points. The Wildcats will now face top-seeded Poplar in the semifinals. The other semifinal matchup will pit Wolf Point against Glasgow.
Harlem 67, Malta 43
Harlem 12 13 20 22 - 67
Malta 8 10 9 16 - 43
Harlem - Craig Adams 12, Neeko Bigby 15, Will Bigby 5, Wally Crantz 6, Rick Haluszka 5, Lance Iron Child 1, Eddie Moore 10, Monty Snow 3, Jordan Mount 8, Charles Rider 2. Totals: 22 17-23.
Malta - Jay Galt 2, Tyler Sjostrom 2, John Galt 16, Bo Stiles 4, Kevin Hanson 8, Lyndon Matthews 4, Bryan Tatafu 5, Jeremy Azure 1, Scott Lindgren 1. Totals: 12 15-22.
Total fouls - Harlem 21, Malta 19. Fouled out - John Galt. Three-pointers - John Galt 1, Stiles 1, Hanson 1, Tatafu 1, Adams 2, Neeko Bigby 3, Moore 1