By Rob Everingham
One newcomer and two veteran teams will play this weekend at the Northern C Divisional tournament at the CMR Fieldhouse in Great Falls.
The Chester Coyotes will be representing District 10-C in the No. 1 spot after breezing through the district tournament.
At the district tournament, Chester (19-1) received a first-round bye, then went on to down Brady 75-28 in the semifinals, and trounced Sunburst in the championship game, 76-32.
Carlane Jensen had a game-high 17 and 16 points, respectively, each night.
Michelle VanDyke, Maci Temple, and Heidi Chicon joined Jensen in double figures to lead the Coyotes through the tournament.
The Coyotes are coming off a one-week lay-off after their district tournament, and will face the second seed from District 9-C, Blue Sky, at 8:30 p.m.
Chester head coach Linda Van Dyke said they have had a good week of practice and are well prepared.
"As you keep going up the ladder, you have to put good basketball together," Van Dyke said.
The week off has allowed the Coyotes to only not work on fine tuning their game, but also has allowed for some injuries to heal. Van Dyke said everyone is healthy and ready to go.
Van Dyke said her team has certain goals and they know tournament time is when they will need to put three good basketball games together and work their hardest.
The Big Sandy Lady Pioneers (20-0), the No. 1 team in the state will join Blue Sky (13-9) in representing the 9-C.
The Pioneers are looking for their second state title in three years. Big Sandy will face Winifred (16-7) on Thursday at 3:00 p.m.
Big Sandy head coach Roy Lackner said the District 9-C tournament was a good tune up for divisional, but Lackner and his team know things only get harder from here.
Last year was only the second time the Pioneers did not go into the divisional tournament as a No. 1 seed since Lackner has been the head coach. He has been at the helm for 16 years.
Lackner does have one luxury this year that he did not have in the past, and that is his depth on the bench.
Two years ago, when the Pioneers won the state title, Lackner had just five starters and they played the whole game. This year he has a very deep team.
Lackner said having the option of subbing is much harder than just playing five players.
"I have to make more decisions, and I'm not always sure if they're the right ones," Lackner said.
Big Sandy's bench has proven itself throughout the season. Nine different players have notched double figures at least twice during the regular season.
Sasha Ritter, the only senior starter, is the team leader. In fewer than 20 minutes of play in the championship game against KG, Ritter tallied 19 points for the Pioneers.
Kathryn Bitz has been consistent offensively for the Pioneers, collecting a season-high 18 points against Hays/Lodgepole on Oct. 30.
Kristi Upham is a strength from the 15-foot range for Big Sandy.
Celeste Darlington, Amy Silvan, Tiffanie Jamieson, Eryn Darlington, Jessica Curl, and Jillian Johnsrud are also tough on the perimeter.
Blue Sky will be going to divisional for the first time in many years but have won eight of their last 10 games.
However, the Eagles and Chester met twice during the regular season, with the Coyotes collecting the win both times.
At Chester on Sept. 25, the Coyotes routed the Eagles 88-46, and on Oct. 30 at Rudyard, the Eagles were downed 77-43.