Chris Peterson Havre Daily News email@example.com
Crunch time has arrived for boys basketball teams of the District 9C, as all seven teams will put their seasons on the line for a chance to advance and keep their season alive. The 9C tournament will not be for the faint at heart, as the seven teams are going to be battling it out this week in Havre for two spots in next weekend’s Northern C divisional tournament in Great Falls. The highly-touted Rocky Boy Stars come into the tournament as the favorite after posting a perfect 12-0 record in district play this season. The Stars will get a first-round bye and will play either Turner or Box Elder in the semifinals. But the Stars have plenty of teams, or at least a couple with a fighters chance to knock them off the top spot. One of the teams just happens to be defending Class C state champion Hays- Lodge Pole. The Thunderbirds are also the two-time defending 9C district tournament champions. Then there is the Big Sandy Pioneers. The Pioneers have been plagued by injuries all year long to key players such as sophomores Blake Brumwell and Corbin Pearson, who were each key pieces in the Pioneers' runner-up finish at the Class C state tournament. “Rocky Boy, Big Sandy and Hays- Lodgepole all have very good teams,” North Star head coach Charlie Robinson said. “Rocky Boy has been the best team in the regular season, but Big Sandy has also had a lot of injuries this year. If Big Sandy can get healthy I think they are right there with both Hays and Rocky Boy.” While Rocky Boy (15-3 overall, 12-0 conference), which is led by a number of standout players, including Mike Sangrey Jr., Erik Schidlt, Rodney Turn Toes and Jarod Parker, will be resting in the first round, both the T-Birds and the Pioneers will be in action. HLP (13-5 overall, 10-2 conference) will begin its title defense against Chinook (2-16 overall, 2-10 conference) a team the T-Birds have beaten twice during the regular season. The two teams will square off in Havre on Wednesday at 9 a.m. inside the HHS Gymnasium. The T-Birds boast one of the most talented teams in the 9C with a number of standout players, highlighted by juniors Lenny Gray and Cole McCabe. Other contributors for the T-Birds will be Shane Main and Jess Brockie, as well as Josh Black Elk. “We knew going into the season that the other teams were going to be gunning for us,” HLP head coach Charlie Ereaux said. “But now the only thing that matters is how you play this weekend. Anything can happen in this tournament, so we have to be ready to play our best basketball.” The Beeters, who have struggled throughout the season, would love nothing more than to pull a monumental upset in the first round over defending champion HLP If the Beeters are to have any chance whatsoever, they will need players such as Max Hofeldt, Dylan Maclean and Colton Davies to step up in a big way. In another first-round showdown, Big Sandy, the No. 3 seed, will take on the sixth-seeded North Star Knights. The third-seeded Pioneers have dealt with a number of injuries, but are finally healthy, as both superstar sophomores Pearson and Brumwell are ready to play in the 9C tournament. Along with their two stud forwards, the Pioneers will need contributions from Ryne LaBuda, Darin Ray and Patrick Louvar. Yet, the sixth-seeded Knights (4-14 overall, 3-9 conference) have the ultimate ace in the hole, entering the first-round contest with legendary head coach Charlie Robinson, roaming their sidelines. On the court, the Knights will be led by senior guards Cody Jurenka, Josh Beaudry and Adam Chivilcek. In the other first-round contest the fourth-seeded Turner Tornadoes (7-11 overall, 4-8 conference) will take on the fifth-seeded Box Elder Bears (7-11 overall, 3-9 conference) for the right to play Rocky Boy in the semifinals. The Tornadoes, who have been a bit of a surprise team in the 9C this season will look to get a postseason victory in the 9C tournament for the third straight season behind the play of senior Taylor Fouts, as well as Clinton Van Voast, Tyler Obrecht and Wade Daniels. “I think that Turner is probably the surprise team of our league this season,” Big Sandy head coach Roy Lackner said. “They just might be able to knock off a team or two when it comes to the district tournament.” Meanwhile, the upstart Bears (7-11 overall, 3-9 conference) will be out for an upset victory that would make their year. The Bears will try to match up with the Tornadoes power up front with a balanced fast-paced attack that includes Jaron Raining Bird, Daniel Nault, Travis Russette and JC Hawk. All first-round action will be played on Wednesday at the HHS Gymnasium. The 9C tournament will continue play until the championship game on Saturday night.