Havre once again will be filled with basketball mania as players and fans fill the Havre High School gymnasium cheering for teams in pursuit of a state championship. Havre High School activities director Dennis Murphy said that, although it is a time of transition with the largest school in the district, Rocky Boy High School, moving up to Class B, he believes the District 9C Tournament will run smoothly. “Everybody knows their responsibilities and does their part … ,” Murphy said. “Between all the groups I think we will do a good job, and the kids will play hard and entertain everybody to the best of their ability.” The tournament starts Wednesday, with the players trying to earn a berth at the 9C Divisional Tournament in Great Falls next week, and the chance To compete at the state tournament. Mark Irvin, the Box Elder athletic director and elementary school principal who is spending his first year as tournament director, said things seem to be going well so far. “It’s going to come whether I’m ready or not, but its coming together nicely,” he said. Along with the basketball action, the tournament brings large numbers of people to Havre to watch the games. Havre’s central location in the district is one of its strengths as a host. Most teams can return home at night, rather than spending the night in Havre. But the teams and fans often spend quite a bit of time in Havre bringing a welcome boost to the economy in what is one of the slowest travel seasons of the year. Irvin said many tournamentgoers enjoy the chance to spend a few days in Havre, as well as the opportunity to watch the tournament and to get out despite the weather. “It is the highlight for a lot of the communities,” Irvin said. “We have had a miserable winter so far, and it’s a way to break the monotony. “It’s a way to get to Havre and do a little shopping and go out to eat, too,” he added. The largest change in the tournament, held in Havre for decades, is the loss of Rocky Boy High School. Rocky Boy, an annual powerhouse in the 9C tournament, is now shooting for a state title in the Class B competition. Rocky Boy took second place at the state Class C tournament for the last two years, and is undefeated this season. It is the top-ranked team in the state in the Class B conference. Rocky Boy’s moving to the larger division could have an effect both on the number of fans at the tournament and its economic impact. “Rocky Boy had a big following,” Murphy said. “We’ll see what happens.” He said he believes the turnout still will be strong. “I believe our crowds will be good,” he said, “but I expect it to be smaller since we lost the largest school in the conference. Hopefully we can respond by being there and supporting (the players and fans.”) Irvin also said he expects the crowds to continue to be large. The ticket sales for the 12-team tournament probably will be lower than in the last few years, but that is relative, he said. While Rocky Boy was competing, the tournament was enormous. “It was one of the biggest tournaments in the state at any level,” Irvin said. Part of the loss of Rocky Boy includes the loss of 12-year tournament director Void St. Pierre. “When you have somebody as good as Void, it’s difficult to follow,” Murphy said. But Irvin is stepping up to the plate agter working closely with St. Pierre to learn the procedures, Murphy added. “I expect the transition to be quite smooth,” he said. Irvin said the learning curve has been quite steep, but the help he has received has made it easier. “I rely on a lot of people,” he said. “It really takes the whole conference to put this on.” It is a busy time for the Havre Area Chamber of Commerce as well. The Chamber coordinates about 40 volunteers who work at the tournament, taking tickets, acting as ushers and running a hospitality room. Irvin said the help Chamber Executive Director Debbie Vandeberg and the rest of the Chamber and the Havre community offer in running the tournament and welcoming the fans is immense. “Without the community of Havre stepping in to help, it wouldn’t be possible,” he said. The event is set to disrupt the high school operation as little as possible, such as by scheduling classes normally held in the gymnasium in other classrooms. Murphy said the groups putting on the tournament have worked together for so long it generally runs smoothly. “They’ve been doing it a long time together. Everybody knows their responsibility and does their parts,” he said. “Hopefully, on Feb. 17 when we walk into the gym, you hope the parts come together.” Irvin also said the work by all participating schools and communities, including Murphy and Havre High School as well as all of the 9C schools and towns, makes his job easier. He said he expects to be back in Havre for next year’s 9C Tournament as well. “All those years I’ve been involved, the community of Havre always is very welcoming and supportive. I can’t imagine doing it anywhere else,” Irvin said.
9C players and fans again set to flock to Havre
District 9C Tournament starts Wednesday
Published: Tuesday, February 16th, 2010
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