Boys district basketball tournaments are gearing up all over the state this week, and several Hi-Line squads are ready to compete.
Gyms across the sate will host crucial postseason games Today through Saturday.
The 10C Chester/J-I Hawks will be competing in Cut Bank, while the 1B Rocky Boy Stars will compete in Conrad and the 2B Harlem Wildcats will compete in Wolf Point.
The Hawks have been in the middle of the 10C all season long. They have had their ups and downs, but have also shown they can keep pace. They enter the post season tournament with an 8-5 conference record and 11-7 record overall. And ending the regular season with a solid win over conference rival Heart Butte and 9C power Chinook, the Hawks have some momentum heading into the tough 10C tourney.
Dutton-Brady leads the 10C as the No. 1 seed, while Power is No. 2 and Chester/J-I is third. Heart Butte is No. 4, and Valier is No. 5, Sunburst is No. 6 and Simms is No. 7. Dutton-Brady, with one conference loss this season, and Power with just three conference losses are favored this year, but the Hawks are right in the mix. The bottom part of the conference slips somewhat, as Heart Butte has just three wins, and Valier, Sunburst and Simms combine for just six conference wins this season.
It hasn’t been the most productive year for the Hawks, but they have had several athletes step up. Jordan Oraw, Mike Henke and Lane Harmon have carried the load this season and have double digit scoring capability. But on the defensive end of the floor, the Hawks have to limit teams. They don’t have the ability to get caught in a shootout, so if they want to remain competitive, they have to slow the pace down and make teams play to their tempo, not the other way around.
In 1B action, Rocky Boy isn’t entering the tournament as a clear favorite for the first time in a while.
The Stars are another local squad smack dab in the middle of the pack, and have their work cut out for them. They have just three conference wins this season, and enter the tournament dropping two straight. Conrad beat the Stars 49-46, but No. 2 Choteau took down the Stars 82-63. Rocky Boys has been very inconsistent on both sides of the ball this season, but will have to turn that around if they want to compete with the top tier teams.
And the Stars have weapons, but need them all to pitch in, in the same game, not every other. Dante Standing Rock has played well this season, as has Cody Lamere. Wilber Parisian, Chontay Standin Rock, Darien Lafromboise and J.R. Day Child also have good abilities, but the Stars need everybody to step up if they hope to advance.
Harlem also has an up hill battle, sitting nearly at the bottom of the 2B, with just three conference wins this season. The Wildcats are the No. 5 team this year, just above Poplar with zero conference wins. Malta sits well above the rest of the field with a flawless conference schedule at 10-0.
It would have been beneficial for the Wildcats to enter the postseason with some positive momentum, but they suffered two tough conference losses instead. Plentywood defeated the Wildcats 60-37, and Wolf Point defeated the Wildcats 59-37.
Harlem has been in some close games this season, but also fell in their share of blowouts. They need to be playing their best basketball heading in to the weekend if they hope to remain competitive, and they have some talent to do just that. Skylar Speakthunder is a very talented guard that can take over a game if needed. But the Wildcats need help from the likes of Bud Buck, Brandon Hammond, Wallace Birdtail and Clay Doney.
At the District 10C tourney in Cut Bank, the Hawks open play today at 5:30 against Sunburst. The top two teams from the 10C will advance to next week's Northern C in Great Falls.
At the 1B in Conrad, Rocky Boy begins its postseason today at 5 p.m. against 9-9 Cut Bank, while Harlem opens its action at the 2B tourney against Glasgow at 2:30 p.m. on Thursday. The top four teams from the 1B and the 2B will make up the Northern B boys tourney next week.