George Ferguson Havre Daily News sports editor firstname.lastname@example.org
The first-ever All Hi-Line boys basketball team is clearly a list of who’s who in high school basketball along the Hi-Line. The team is composed of players who led their respective squads to such heights as state championships, district titles, near-misses and miraculous postseason runs.
A. J. Long Soldier, Hays-Lodge Pole Perhaps no player in Montana has made a bigger splash on the Montana high school basketball scene in the last two years than Hays-Lodge Pole sophomore A. J. Long Soldier. The silky smooth, 6-5 guard had a tremendous freshman campaign, and remarkably, he topped that in 2006-2007. Long Soldier averaged 17 points during the regular season in helping guide the Thunderbirds to a share of the District 9C regular season championship. But it’s the postseason where Long Soldier really made his mark. He upped his scoring average to nearly 24 points per game in leading HLP to the District 9C, Northern C and Class C state tournament titles. He was the MVP of both the Northern C and state C tournament’s, and he easily earned all-conference and all-state honors for the second straight year. Long Soldier is known as an extremely unselfish player, as evidenced by his average of more than five assists and seven rebounds per game at the state tournament earlier this month in Great Falls.
Rick Haluszka, Harlem Already known as one of the toughest players in Class B basketball, Harlem junior Rick Haluszka lived up to that billing this season, especially in the postseason. Ranked all season long in Class B, Harlem stumbled in the District 2B tournament, finishing fourth. But from there, Haluszka averaged 19 points and 12 rebounds as the Wildcats not only fought their way into the Class B state tournament but finished an astounding fourth once they got to Butte. During the season, Haluszka had 17 double-doubles on his way to earning Northern B All-Conference and Class B All-State honors. The 6-3 power forward also earned State B All-Tournament honors and is expected to be one of Class B’s top football and basketball players as a senior next year.
Lance Brockie, Hays-Lodge Pole A four-year starter at Hays-Lodge Pole, 6-5 center Lance Brockie has done just about everything a basketball player can do in his career. And earlier this month in Great Falls, Brockie capped off an amazing career by helping the Tbirds win their second Class C state championship in the last five years. Brockie averaged a double-double at both the Northern C and Class C state tournaments this year. For his efforts, he earned all-conference and all-state honors. During his distinguished career at HLP, Brockie averaged double figures in points for all four years, and he was in double digits in rebounding for three seasons. He is a four-time all-conference selection and a three-time all-state performer.
Marty Birky, Chinook No one in District 9C could argue that Chinook senior Marty Birky had one of the most productive seasons in recent memory in 2006-2007. Birky, a 6-3 versatile player who can score both inside and out, led the 9C in both scoring (21 ppg) and rebounding (11.1 rpg) this past season. At the end of the year, Birky was a one-man scoring machine and he helped Chinook to a strong showing at the 9C tournament last month in Havre, where he had double-doubles in three straight games. Birky is a two-time all-conference selection, and this season, he earned Class C All-State honors for the tremendous year he had under first-year Chinook head coach Chris Daniels.
Blake Brumwell, Big Sandy Talk about your high-impact freshman. Big Sandy head coach Roy Lackner had two of them this season, including 6-7 center Blake Brumwell. Brumwell wasted little time getting acquainted with 9C basketball, as he earned all-conference and all-state honors this year while helping the Pioneers to 9C, Northern C and state C runner-up finishes. Brumwell was nearly unstoppable in the paint during his freshman campaign, averaging over 20 points and eight rebounds per game. Twice during the state tournament in Great Falls, Brumwell eclipsed the 30-point plateau, and for good reason he led the tournament in field goal percentage. With a lot of maturing physically yet to come, Brumwell, whose older brother Gage is a starter on the Carroll College basketball team, will certainly give opposing 9C coaches headaches for years to come.
Corbin Pearson, Big Sandy The second half of Big Sandy’s freshman duo is 6-3 swingman Corbin Pearson. The ultra-athletic Pearson dazzled fans and opposing defenders all season long with his inside-out game. Pearson is a strong outside shooter, but he can also go to the basket, and despite his youthful frame, is an excellent rebounder. Pearson was another big piece to the Pioneers’ success this season, especially in the postseason where he averaged well over 20 points per game. In his first season of high school basketball, all Pearson accomplished individually was earning all-conference and all-state honors, as well as being named to the State C All-Tournament team, which was filled with talented players and upper-classmen.
Branden Melby, North Star North Star senior Branden Melby is another of the upper-classmen on the All Hi-Line team that has been through it all in his career. Melby, a four-year starter, first for the old KG KouGars, and for the last two years for North Star, has been a staple for veteran head coach Charlie Robinson. Having to play behind a lot of talent his first two seasons on the hardwood, Melby broke out last year, and in 2006- 2007, was one of the 9C’s best players. The 6-2 guard has always had to play against bigger opponents, but he has always managed to stand out. Nowhere was that more evident than in the 9C tournament last month when Melby averaged 22 points and nine rebounds per game in leading the Knights to a third-place finish in a very talented field. For his efforts this season, Melby earned all-conference and all-state honors for the Knights.
Jeremiah Moog, Havre High In an up-and-down season for the Havre Blue Ponies, which ended on a high note with a third-place finish at the Central A Divisional tournament in Butte, senior Jeremiah Moog was a constant. Moog, a hard-working post player/two-guard who routinely had to take on multiple assignments for HHS like handling the ball, making passes and getting tough rebounds, did so with great consistency. Known as one of the best defenders in the Central A, Moog averaged nearly 10 points and seven rebounds for the Ponies in his final year at HHS, earning second-team all-conference honors along the way.
Chad Jones, Turner It seems like Turner senior Chad Jones played for the Tornadoes forever. That’s because Jones was a four-year starter for Turner, and he finished his career last month at the 9C tourney by going out with a bang. Jones averaged double figures in scoring all four years of his career, including this season, when he put in better than 18 points per game. Despite being one of the best guards in the league, the 6-2 Jones played well when handling the point or playing down low, as evidenced by his nearly sevenrebound per-game average this year. Jones was a three-time all-conference performer, and this year, he earned Class C All-State honors.
Lenny Grey, Hays-Lodge Pole On a team with two of the best players in Class C basketball, Hays-Lodge Pole junior Lenny Grey stood on his own in 2006-2007. Grey averaged 15 points per game for the state champion T-Birds and had his biggest game of the year in the Class C state title game, where he scored a game-high 27 points on 12-of-17 shooting against Big Sandy. The 6-4 Grey earned all-conference honors in his junior campaign, and he was named to the State C All-Tournament team.
Bryant Eagleman, Rocky Boy The Rocky Boy Stars may have fallen short of reaching the Northern C divisional tournament this year, but it wasn’t for their lack of talent or the efforts of senior Bryant Eagleman. The Stars’ leading scorer all season long, Eagleman was at his best in the 9C tournament last month in Havre where he averaged nearly 22 points and five rebounds for the fourth-place Stars. Eagleman, a sharpshooting guard, earned all-conference honors this year, and was selected to play in several prestigious all-star games.