I've been saying for a long time. And for years, the proof is in the results. But the last four weeks of basketball have certainly solidified what almost everybody around the Hi-Line already knows. Our part of the state is where hoop dreams are made. Every season, a local team, whether its Class A, B or C, brings some state tournament hardware back to the Hi- Line. Anymore, that almost goes without saying. But this season was especially successful for area boys basketball teams, and it was for the girls too. On the same night, Rocky Boy and Big Sandy brought home coveted state championships. The Stars capped off a perfect season in Class B, beating Shelby for the Class B state championship in Great Falls on March 6. On the same night, just minutes before Rocky Boy began to celebrate its state championship, the Big Sandy boys basketball team capped off a brilliant run which took the Pioneers to the Class C state championship. Just one year earlier, it wouldn't have been possible for both Rocky Boy and Big Sandy, two schools separated geographically by a mere 21 miles, to both win the state championship. In fact, as members of District 9C, Rocky Boy and Big Sandy had played, and come up second in the last three Class C state title games. The Pioneers fell to Hays-Lodge Pole in 2007 Class C title game, while the Stars lost the Class C title in 2008 to Winifred and 2009 to Twin Bridges. But on one magical night, both teams got a coveted state championship. For the Stars, it was emotional, as Rocky Boy fans were able to celebrate their first state championship ever. It was something magical, especially considering for the last three years Rocky Boy had been the most dominant team in all of MHSA basketball. The Stars lost just three games in three years, but this season, they moved up to Class B, yet the pressure was still on for them to capture a state championship. And the Stars and their great players certainly delivered. Big Sandy delivered too. Big Sandy's big senior class, led by four-year starters Corbin Pearson and Blake Brumwell, had been chasing the state championship since the day they all arrived at Big Sandy High School. The Pioneer seniors went to four straight state tournaments, but until March 6, the title had eluded them. However, they took care of all of that when they upended favored Power in the title game in Billings. Interestingly, Rocky Boy and Big Sandy's state title double wasn't the first time a pair of area schools have done it in recent times. In 2002, Harlem captured the Class B state championship and at the same time, HLP brought home the Class C trophy. Then, in 2007, HLP won the Class C title again, beating the Pioneers in the championship game in Great Falls. Even more proof that the Hi-Line reigns supreme when it comes to high school basketball. Yes, it doesn't take much of a trip down memory lane to understand what I'm talking about. With Chester winning a state championship in girls basketball in 2001, and the C/J-I Hawks finishing second in 2006 and the Big Sandy girls second in 2008, plus all of the hardware that sits on the Hi-Line on the boys side, there just is no doubt where the basketball hot bed is in Montana right now. And this basketball season ended with even more Hi-Line prowess. The Havre High girls basketball team maligned back in December after a rough 2-7 start, end its season on a high note. The Blue Ponies, under head coach Dustin Kraske, pulled off a stellar run at the Central A Divisional tournament, beating top-seeded and heavily-favored Livingston in a Monday night challenge game. The win vaulted HHS into its fourth straight Class A state tournament. Then, the Ponies captured two wins last weekend in Hamilton, including one over Central A champion Butte Central. The only thing that prevented Havre from bringing a trophy back to HHS was two tough losses to top-ranked Anaconda. But the Ponies' finish at the state tournament is indicative of just what kind of basketball they've been playing at HHS in recent years. The Ponies have finished fourth three times in the last four years at state, a strong run, and during that span, they've knocked off heavily-favored No. 1 teams, like Anaconda three years ago, and Glendive last season. And there were other great success stories this season on the Hi-Line too which further indicate just how good basketball fans have it around here. The Chinook boys basketball team, which won just two games back in 2008, made it all the way to the Northern C Divisional championship game. The Sugarbeeters had a remarkable season, and while it may have ended in heartbreak in a Northern C challenge game loss to Big Sandy, it was still a season full of memories in Chinook. The Chester/J-I girls also had a big year. The Hawks rebounded from two losing seasons, capturing a District 10C title, and making it to the Northern C consolation game. The Box Elder girls also had a big year, capturing their first District 9C title in quite some time, and making noise at the divisional tournament. The Harlem girls were also successful this season. The Wildcats posted their first winning record in years, and were ranked in the Class B Top 10 for much of the season. And we shouldn't forget the season the Havre High boys basketball team had either. The Ponies came within one game of reaching the Class A state tournament, and they had one of their most productive season's in quite some time. The fact is there was just no shortage of high school basketball excitement on the Hi-Line this year. There were great success stories like Rocky Boy and Big Sandy winning state championships. There were great individual stories like C/J-I's Jessica VanDyke coming back after two years of injuries to lead the state in scoring, and of course, and the I could go on and on. But the simple truth is, we, as basketball fans are lucky. We're lucky because its almost always this good in our part of the state. The names and faces may change from year to year, but the basketball doesn't. The Hi-Line has it when it comes to high school hoops, and given what it's been like the last decade, I don't see that changing any time soon.
The Hi-Line reigns supreme when it comes to hoops
Published: Wednesday, March 17th, 2010
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