On a night when the No. 1 team in Class C boys basketball fell, the Chinook Sugarbeeters stock just kept rising. Thursday night in the Northern C boys semifinals at the Four Seasons Arena in Great Falls, the Beeters' magical postseason run soared to new heights when they beat the Denton Trojans 57-38. The win catapulted Chinook into tonight's championship game where the Beeters () will face District 10C runner-up Power () at 8:30. The Pirates knocked off previously unbeaten Winifred in Thursday's first semifinal. "It's awesome," Chinook junior Tyler Molyneaux said. "We always knew we could do it. We were never ranked or anything like that, but we just pulled together as a team and knew we could it." Chinook, playing in its first-ever Northern C semifinal, looked like a team which had been there many times before. Dylan MacLean closed out the first quarter with three of his 15 points, then Taylor Erskine, who scored a gamehigh 20 points, started a 10-0 Beeter run in the second with a putback. Chinook led 23-17 at halftime, and the Trojans never really threatened again. Erskine and MacLean added three's in the third quarter and by the time the fourth period started, the Beeters led by 20 points and were well on their way to tonight's title game. Chinook was solid on both ends of the floor. The Beeters shot better than 50 percent from the field, made five treys, outrebounded the Trojans by seven and forced Denton into 15 turnovers. "This was our most complete game during this run," Beeter head coach Chris Daniels said. "We really are playing our best basketball right now, and that's why we're in the championship game. "I tell the kids that even when the shots aren't falling, you can always control how you defend and rebound," he added. "And that's what we've done. These kids have decided to give the maximum effort and do the little things that keep teams in ball games. I just couldn't be more proud of what this team is doing and has already accomplished." Aside from his 20 points, Erskine also led the Beeters with seven boards. Chinook also got seven points from Chris Haider, and free-throw-shooting also played a key role in Thursday night's game. Denton, which slipped into loser-out play this morning, was paced by Garret Bronec's 10 points. Tonight's game, Chinook's second title chance in as many weeks, will feature a Power team which stunned Winifred 53-49. The Pirates also beat Big Sandy in the first round on Wednesday, and just like in the 9C title bout last weekend, the Beeters will be underdogs yet again. But that's just fine with Daniels. "They (Pirates) are a really good team, the Somerfeld boys are outstanding ball players, the Vick boys are outstanding ballplayers, and we will certainly be the underdogs again," Daniels said. "But there are going to be 10 outstanding ball players on the floor in that game because we have really good players too. I think we've proven that the last two weeks. "We're going to have to play a great game to beat Power," he added. "But we're excited to have the chance to win a divisional championship and get to state. These kids have taken advantage of all of the opportunities they've been given and that's what we're going to go out and try to do in the championship game." Tonight's Northern C championship game is set for 8:30 in Great Falls. The consolation game is slated for 7. The top two teams advance to next week's Class C state tournament in Billings.
Big Sandy 86, Centerville 54 (lo) District 9C champion Big Sandy kept its hopes of making the state tournament alive on Thursday with an easy victory in Northern C boys loser-out play. The Pioneers (18-4) took down Centerville 86-54 in an early-morning loser-out game in Great Falls. The win pushed Big Sandy into a loser-out game today against Denton. The winner of that game will move on to tonight's Northern C consolation game at 7. The Pioneers showed no ill effects from Wednesday's heartbreaking loss to Power. Big Sandy jumped out to a 22-11 first quarter lead, and the Pioneers upped that lead to 48-21 at halftime. From there, the Pioneers cruised home. Blake Brumwell and Corbin Pearson once again led the way for Big Sandy, combining for 43 points. The Pioneers now must win two games in order to have a chance to challenge for the second spot in the Northern C.