By Ryan Divish/Havre Daily News Sports Editorfirstname.lastname@example.org
Not every district basketball tournament in the state of Montana runs for the better part of the week. In fact, the remaining conferences across the Hi-Line will kick off their respective tourneys today.
In Cut Bank, the Chinook Sugarbeeters (10-8) will be playing in their first every District 1B tournament game when they take on the Conrad Cowgirls (11-7) tonight at 8.
The Beeters are coming off a 48-44 win over Conrad a week ago in Chinook. The win wrapped up a 7-game home streak for Chinook. However, the Beeters were be away from the friendly confines of the Chinook gym.
Still, head coach Mark Roseberry believes that having played Conrad so recently will only help out.
"I think the girls will be a little jittery to start the game," Roseberry said. "But I think it will help having just played Conrad on Saturday night. It will be familiar and it should give us some confidence."
The Beeter are playing with plenty of it late in the season. It didn't start out that way as Chinook struggled a little early in the season, particularly on the offensive end.
"It really took us the first half of the season to get comfortable offensively," Roseberry said. "But now we're attacking the basket and being more aggressive."
Roseberry moved leading scorer Whitney Lybeck to the perimeter and it sparked the Beeters. The 5-10 Lybeck has been scoring in a variety of ways and taking some pressure off of guards Monica Thackeray and Crystal Roseberry. Inside, Chinook has one of the strongest players in the 1B in junior Georgia Barber, while junior Kassie Dugan and sophomore Dawn Kellam have emerged as contributors.
"The perimeter game will be big against the Cowgirls.
"We know they are sit back in a 2-3 zone, they've done it both times we played them," Roseberry said. "We have to show a willingness to shoot the ball from the perimeter to open things up."
Chinook's steady improvement can be followed in its season record. Of all the teams the Beeters have played only two - Fairfield and Havre - have swept them.
"We played a really tough schedule this season and I think that will pay off at the end," Roseberry said.
Fairfield (13-5)is the top-seed of the tournament and the team to beat.
"They are just a solid, deep team," Roseberry said. "They have great players and they just don't make mistakes. They never settle for 10 foot jumpshots, because they know they can get lay-ups."
If Chinook wins tonight, they will face Fairfield in Friday's semifinal. While knocking off the Eagles and playing in the championship would be great, the Beeters' main goal is to advance to next weekend's North-East B Divisional in Malta.
"The goal is to play well and move on," Roseberry said. "It would be nice to be playing late on Saturday night."
In the District 10C tournament in Shelby, the Chester Coyotes will be looking for yet another 10C tournament title.
Chester comes in as the prohibitive favorite with a 12-6 record. Of Chester's six losses five of them came out of the 10C. The Coyotes have been solid against conference opponents.
Chester is led by a balanced attack with a host of players capable of scoring in double figures on any given night.
Junior Mary DeVries seems to be full recovered from offseason knee surgery. At 5-10 DeVries is a blend of athleticism, size and strength. Joining her up front is senior Shawnee Norick and sophomore Brianne Wolfe. Norick is also very athletic and can score inside, while Wolfe is a defensive stopper that can rebound.
Chester's backcourt of Amanda Violett and Keyla Briese is solid handling the ball and can shoot from outside. Briese is particularly dangerous from 3-point range. The Coyotes have a deep bench with Jackie Alisch, Brittney Kolstad and Jillien Johnson all contributing.
The Coyotes will face the winner of the Dutton-Brady (7-10)/Valier (4-14) game in Friday's semifinal. Heart Butte (13-5) and Sunburst (11-7) will square off in today's other first round game.
In the District 2B tourney in Malta, Harlem opened the tournament with a tough 39-35 loss to Plentywood on Wednesday.
The Wildcats led 23-16 going into the fourth quarter, but couldn't hold off Plentywood, which outscored Harlem 23-12 in the fourth to seal the game.
Olivia Main led Harlem with 10 points, while Danielle Dirden had nine.
Plentywood 39, Harlem 35
Plentywood 6 8 2 23 - 39
Harlem 10 7 6 12 - 35
Plentywood - Catie O'Toole 9, Callie Howard 2, Kirbi Henderson 6, Jenna Bodine 1, Kristen Steiner 7, Vallie Christensen 6, Kayleen Hendrickson 2, Shalece Christensen 6. Totals: 10 19-33.
Harlem - Olivia Main 10, Star Carrywater 4, Amy Stiffarm 2, Danielle Dirden 9, Marty Stiffarm 4, Leandra Thomas 5, Colleen Filesteel 1. Totals: 16 2-11.
Total fouls - Plentywood 17, Harlem 27. Fouled out - Colleen Filesteel, Brooke Filesteel. 3-pointers - Dirden 1.