Havre Daily News Staff
The Montana State University- Northern’s men’s and women’s basketball programs will be hosting the 22nd Hi-Line Invitational Tournament at the Armory Gymnasium Thursday through Saturday. The tournament, under the direction of Malta's Babsie Bishop, will feature boys and girls high school all-star teams from the state’s four classifications (AA, A, B, and C). Teams will compete in a three-day, round-robin tournament. Championship and consolation games are slated for Saturday. The HIT has been a fixture in Montana High School basketball since 1987 and was the state’s first-ever all-star tournament for prep boys. Girls teams were added to the field in 1993. The HIT has seen some of Montana’s finest talent over the years, and this year will feature some outstanding outgoing seniors as well as a large number of talented underclassmen. Malta has been the predominant host for the HIT, but this year the tournament moved up Highway 2 to Havre and to MSU-Northern. Awards will be presented to an all-star team at the conclusion of the tournament. In addition, awards will be given for slam dunk and three-point contest winners, a tournament Most Valuable Player, and a tournament “Mr. And Ms. Hustle”. Last year, Andy Garland from Missoula Sentinel and Hayley Pettit from Dillon were voted the Most Valuable Players of the tournament. Chris Spoja of Helena holds the boys’ single-game scoring record with a 58-point output in 1991, while Pettit scored 43 points in the 2007 tournament. Many local players and Hi-Line talent will make up the rosters, including Havre High products Katie Mariani and Steph Stremcha on the Class A girls team. Malta’s Laramie Schwenke is set to play for the Class B girls, while Big Sandy’s Laci Keller and Shersteen Cline along with Hinsdale’s Sacarra Molina will represent the Class C girls. Three of the four girl's state tournament MVP's will be in action this weekend. Anaconda’s Ali Hurley (Class A) , Fairfield’s Chelsea Banis (Clas B) , and Highwood’s Rachel Semansky (Class C) have all committed to play in this weekend's tourney. On the boys side, rosters will also include a strong Hi-Line flavor. The Class A team feature’s Browning’s D.J. Fish and Andrew Spotted Wolfe. The Class B team roster includes Shelby standouts Kevin Steiner and Trey Wanty along with Harlem’s Rick Haluszka and Neeko Bigby. The Class C all-stars feature Corbin Pearson and Blake Brumwell from Big Sandy, Mike Sangrey Jr. Of Rocky Boy, Cole McCabe of Hays- Loge Pole, and Kass Siewing of Saco. The boys teams also include a total of five state tournament MVP's. Billings West’s Casey Rogers (Class AA), Browning’s D.J. Fish (Class A), Shelby’s Kevin Steiner (Class B), Winifred’s Brian Foran (Class C), and Foothills Christian’s Emory Henning (Montana State Christian Athletic Association) will all be in action. The format of the HIT is also unique. The teams play four, 10-minute quarters utilizing a 24-second shot clock. The game format leads to exciting, fast-paced games. There is also a rule that allows no players to foul out. Teams must play solely man-to-man defense, and officials from the Montana Officials Association work all games. The HIT begins on Thursday at 4 p. m. with the Class C girls taking on the Class B girls. There are also games at 5:30, 7 and 8:30 p.m., as well as six games and a 3-point contest on Friday. Saturday's action features six total games, including both consolation games and both championship games, as well as the famed slam-dunk contest.