Last year it was the North Star girls, now it's two more District 9C teams which have already taken a big step towards improving their basketball programs. Thursday night's semifinal round at the District 9C boys and girls tournament in Havre was a special one for a pair of local teams. First, it was the Box Elder Bears who dethroned longtime 9C power Big Sandy in a girls semifinal game. The Bears have been on a roller coaster over the years, but on Thursday night, they finally got to where they really wanted to go. Box Elder last played in the 9C title game six years ago, and since that time, the Bears have had bad seasons, and also a great year two years ago when they reached the Northern C tournament via a Monday night challenge game. But they haven't played for a 9C title through it all — until Saturday night that is. "It's exciting, it's something we've been working a long time for," Box Elder sophomore Aricka Wolf Chief said. "We want to go out and win the championship and we're exciting about playing on Saturday night." Box Elder will be only the third team besides Big Sandy to play for the 9C girls title in the last four years. Only Rocky Boy, which is now Class B, and North Star, which will be the Bears' opponent Saturday night, has played for a 9C title in the last four seasons. Meanwhile, the road to the 9C title game has even been longer for the Chinook boys. The Sugarbeeters dropped from Class B five years ago, and it's been a slow climb to Saturday night's championship game where they'll face Big Sandy. Chinook endured a pair of 2-18 seasons to start its 9C run, but then started to improve in recent years. The Beeters took a step forward last season when they finished third in the 9C, and after a strong regular season, Chinook was poised for great things this weekend. But they still had to go out and make it happen on the floor, and Thursday night against Box Elder, the Beeters did just that. "I'm proud of this group," Chinook head coach Chris Daniels said. "They've been working towards this goal for a long, long time, and they've already had a great season. It's been along time coming. Last year, we got a trophy for the first time, and now we're playing on Saturday night. That's a testament to these kids and how hard they've worked to get here." Coming into the weekend, with Rocky Boy gone from the 9C,no one was too sure just how the tournament would shake out. But with Thursday's semifinal round, great stories from Box Elder and Chinook have already made this year's event another memorable one. And with Saturday's championship games, and with spots in the divisional tournament on the line, there's plenty more to come. The girls championship game between Box Elder and North Star will tip off at 6:30 p.m. at Havre High on Saturday night, and the boys title game between Chinook and Big Sandy is set for 8 p.m.
District 9C championship games will have some new faces
Box Elder girls, Chinook boys make some history on Thursday night
Published: Friday, February 19th, 2010
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