George Ferguson Havre Daily News sports editor firstname.lastname@example.org
It seems like it's been forever since boys high school basketball on the Hi-Line wasn't filled with talented players and exciting hoops. And the 2007-2008 season was no exception to that. Area teams excelled all season long, with the Rocky Boy Stars making a run all the way to the Class C state championship game. District 9C play was as deep as ever, with Hays-Lodge Pole, Big Sandy and the Stars, leading the way, while Chester/J-I had an outstanding season out of the 10C. And then there was the Harlem Wildcats, who played in the toughest division in all of Class B basketball, still managing to have an incredible year. And when the dust settled on the season, the 2008 Havre Daily News All Hi-Line Boys Team was a tough call because of all the great players up and down the Hi-Line. This year's version, which is the second installment of the team, included just three repeat performers, and of the 11 players elected to the team, five were seniors, three were juniors and the rest sophomores. By classification, the team broke down by one Class A player, two Class B stars and the rest were from Class C. Rick Haluszka, Harlem Known as one of the hardest-working players in high school basketball, Harlem senior Rick Haluszka battled injury in order to still have a standout senior year. Haluszka helped guide Harlem to the District 2B regular season and tournament titles, before the Wildcats bowed out at the Northern B tournament, finishing third. For his career, Haluszka started for three seasons, earned all-conference honors three times and was a two-time Class B All-State selection. Haluszka is also a star on the football field, both on offense and defense, and despite opportunities to continue his basketball career in college, the two-time All Hi-Line player will be playing football at Montana State University in Bozeman next fall. Corbin Pearson, Big Sandy The 6-5 Pearson made the All Hi- Line Team as a freshman, and was a unanimous choice again this year. Pearson had a stellar sophomore year despite missing time with injuries, and when the Pioneers made the postseason, Pearson really took off, averaging over 30 points and 12 rebounds from the start of the District 9C tournament all the way through the Class C state tournament last month. During Big Sandy's great state tournament run, Pearson scored over 30 points three times and had a double-double in all six games the Pioneers played. Pearson is already a two-time Class C All-State selection, and with two seasons of high school basketball left, he is already on plenty of college's watch lists. Blake Brumwell, Big Sandy Like his teammate Corbin Pearson, 6-7 Blake Brumwell dominated Class C basketball as a freshman, and despite missing a good portion of the regular season with a foot injury, Brumwell was a unanimous selection to the All Hi-Line Team for the second straight year. When Brumwell finally came back from injury this season, the Pioneers took off, reaching the championship game of the 9C tournament and finishing third at both the Northern C and Class C state tournaments last month. Brumwell averaged close to 21 points and 11 rebounds after he recovered from his foot injury, and after just two years of high school basketball, he is already a two-time all-conference and all-state performer. Mike Sangrey Jr., Rocky Boy To be successful, every basketball team needs a great point guard, and the Rocky Boy Stars have one in junior Mike Sangrey Jr. Aside from his duties of running Rocky Boy's up-tempo offense, Sangrey Jr. Is also a quality scorer, as he averaged over 15 points per game this season. He is also one of the Stars' best defenders and a big part of why Rocky Boy lived up to its potential this season. Sangrey Jr. Earned all-conference, all-state and all-tournament honors this season, helping lead the Stars to the 9C regular season and tournament titles, as well as berths in both the Northern C and Class C state championship games against eventual champ Winifred. Cole McCabe, Hays-Lodge Pole Overshadowed some by Hays- Lodge Pole's two star players on last year's Class C state championship team, HLP junior Cole McCabe had a breakout year in 2008. McCabe averaged 18 points, seven rebounds and five assists on an HLP team that came dangerously close to reaching the Northern C tournament for a third straight year. McCabe was also at his best when the Thunderbirds needed him most in the postseason. In the 9C tournament last month in Havre, McCabe averaged 24 points and nine rebounds as HLP finished third, and for his efforts, he earned all-conference and all-state honors. Erik Schildt, Rocky Boy Just a sophomore, Rocky Boy center Erik Schildt was a perfect compliment to the Stars' explosive outside attack. Schildt didn't crack the Stars' starting lineup until the end of his freshmen season, but this year, he was a force for a Stars team that went all the way to the Class C title game. The 6-5 Schildt averaged 13 points and nine rebounds for Rocky Boy on his way to all-conference honors, and with two seasons left and an already polished inside game, Schildt could be one of the best players in Class C from here on out. Neeko Bigby, Harlem A senior at Harlem, Neeko Bigby has seen plenty of success on the basketball court. And a lot of the Wildcats' triumphs can be attributed to his consistent play. A three-year starter at Harlem, Bigby has averaged nearly 14 points per game for his career, including this season. Bigby was also one of Harlem's best outside scoring threats over his career, and is an excellent defender. Bigby was part of a pair of district titles at Harlem, has played in a state tournament and is a two-time all-conference performer for the Wildcats. Mike Hickman, Havre High It was a difficult year for an inexperienced Havre High basketball team, but junior guard Mike Hickman played at a high level for the Blue Ponies and first-year head coach Andy Smith throughout the season. Hickman handled the point guard duties for the Blue Ponies, but was also HHS's leading scorer for most of the year. He was one of the top 3-point shooters on the team and was also among the Central A leaders in steals. In his first season as a full-time starter, Hickman also earned Central A All-Conference honors, and this past fall, had a strong season on the HHS football team. Hickman is also a standout track and field athlete for the Blue Ponies and is expected to have a big spring. Jaron Raining Bird, Box Elder In his final season, Box Elder senior Jaron Raining Bird finally tasted some success on the hardwood. And the Bears' run to a fourthplace finish at the Northern C tournament, and their most successful season in four years was largely because of Raining Bird's talent and his leadership. Raining Bird averaged 16 points and six rebounds per game for the Bears, but in the postseason, those numbers rose to 24 points and 10 rebounds as Box Elder shined at the 9C tournament in Havre. Dillon Hayes, Chester/J-I Chester/J-I's Dillon Hayes wasn't expected to help carry the Hawks through the postseason, especially after C/J-I was so balanced in winning the District 10C regular season championship this year. But because of injuries, Hayes, who averaged 11 points per game in the regular season, rose to the occasion at tournament time. Hayes helped get the Hawks through the District 10C tourney, and at the Northern C tournament in Great Falls last month, he averaged 17 points per game, and scored over 20 points three times as C/J-I came within a game of reaching the consolation game and having a chance to go to the Class C state tournament. Aside from his basketball prowess, Hayes is also a standout on C/JI's highly-rated track team. Rodney Turn Toes, Rocky Boy On a team loaded with talented players, Rocky Boy senior Rodney Turn Toes still stood out in 2008. The 6-2, ultra-athletic Turn Toes averaged 16 points and five rebounds per game for a Stars team that narrowly missed out on winning a Class C state championship. Turn Toes, a two-time all-conference performer, also played on the last Rocky Boy team to reach the Class C state tourney, and has been a star on Rocky Boy's football team over his high school career. Editors note: The All Hi-Line Team was voted on by available area basketball coaches as well as members of the Havre Daily News sports staff. These selections do not reflect the opinion of any single person and are based solely on votes received.