For most of the teams across the Hi-Line and across the state, the 2011-2012 basketball season has come and gone. But while most teams are sitting at home, the District 9C Big Sandy Pioneers will make a run at what they hope to be another boys state title.
Today, Friday and Saturday, the 18-5 Pioneers will join a very talented Class C field at the state tournament in Billings, as they return to the Rimrock Arena at the Metra after not making it out of the District 9C tournament a year ago. Also making up the Class C field this year will be No. 1 seeds 22-2 Fairview (East), 22-2 Twin Bridges (West), 20-4 Melstone (S
outh) and 23-1 Highwood (North). The No. 2 seeds will be 22-2 St. Labre (South), 17-9 Saco/Whitewater (East) and 22-7 Noxon (West).
Billings was the sight of Big Sandy's state championship two years ago.
Today the Pioneers will face Twin Bridges at 2 p.m. in first-round action.
The Pioneers are coming off of a good appearance at the Northern C tournament a week ago in Great Falls, but are looking to play a lot better than they did in their championship loss to Highwood. But showing signs of flu symptoms that night, the Pioneers weren’t quite up to par, something they will set out to prove against a much tougher state tournament field.
In the first round the Pioneers will face a very tough Twin Bridges squad, making this weekend an uphill battle right out of the gate for Big Sandy.
Twin Bridges will also be hungry for a state title this season. The Falcons missed the tournament last season, but were the top team in the state three years ago with a 63-61 win over Rocky Boy in the chipper. This year’s Flacons team has a lot of talent and upperclassmen leading the way, housing four seniors and seven juniors. And with the talents of a very well balanced offense, the Falcons will be tough to beat. Cody Pierson, Jory Chrest, Cole Miotke, Tyler Lott, Dalton Puckett and Max Orrin all come together to make for a very competitive team.
But the Pioneers also have the ability to put up big numbers on offense, as well as make big time stops on defense.
But on the opposite end of the spectrum, the Pioneers will once again look to rely on their starting five to carry the load. Trevor Lackner, Zac Leader, Justin Stevens, Kaden Beck and Jessey Bailey have all played almost every second of every tame this season. With veteran head coach Roy Lackner not going to his bench unless he absolutely has too, the result of every game this weekend heavily lies on their shoulders.
Bailey, Leader and Trevor Lackner give the Pioneers a monster threat from the perimeter, while Beck and Stevens have handled their won in the paint this season. Stevens has especially had a good season, not as a typical big man, but has found a way to hold his own.
Big Sandy also gets out in front of teams with a run and gun style. They press and push teams to their limit, and with no rest nearly all season, the starting five look to do it without breaking much of a sweat.
If the Pioneers can get past the experienced Falcons team today in the first round, Big Sandy will have another tough matchup in the semifinals. With a win on Thursday, the Pioneers will face the winner of the Fairview/St. Labre game on Friday at 6:30 p.m.
The Pioneers will start their state tournament run today at 2 p.m. against Twin Bridges.