It’s tournament. And when it comes to the Chester/J-I girls and the District 10C tournament, that usually spells doom for the rest of the conference.
The Hawks are the four-time defending 10C champions in what will be their last 10C tournament, which runs Wednesday-Saturday in Conrad. C/J-I (16-2) will move to the 9C next season, but before the Hawks go, they have their sights set on one more 10C championship.
C/J-I went unbeaten in conference play yet again and haven’t lost a game in 10C play since the 2010 season. The Hawks, whose only losses came at the hands of Chinook, have had yet another remarkable season, and this one might be the most remarkable considering head coach Pat Goldhahn had a young squad when the season started.
“We didn’t expect to really be where we are right now,” Goldhahn said. “So it’s been really nice to get through the conference season unscathed. Coming into the season, we weren’t sure exactly what we had because we were so young. We knew what we had in our two all-conference seniors, but after that we were just so young. So it’s been a lot of fun to watch this team grow and develop throughout the season.”
Haley Harmon and Denerey Haaland are the two seniors who have helped lead the way all season. Both are double-digit scorers on a C/J-I team which has averaged over 50 points a game in 10C play this season. Freshman Alixx Goldhahn has also stepped up big. She averages double digits as well, while the Hawks get solid contributions from Madeline Woods, Peyton Cole and Erin Wolfe.
And though C/J-I went undefeated in the conference, coach Goldhahn says his team won’t have any trouble not overlooking the rest of the 10C this week in Conrad. C/J-I gets a bye into the semifinals and will play the winner of a first-round game between Heart Butte and Power. The other side of the 10C bracket pits Simms-Augusta against Sunburst and Dutton-Brady taking on Valier. Only the top two teams advance to the Northern C next week in Great Falls, and Goldhahn said his team is focused on getting there.
“Dutton-Brady is a very good team, Simms-Augusta is very talented and Heart Butte played us really tough just last week,” Goldhahn said. “This tournament will be very tough to get out of. And that’s our goal, to get back to the Northern C in Great Falls. So we’re focused on playing one game at a time and playing as well as we can this week.”
The 10C tourney starts Thursday in Conrad and runs through Saturday night’s championship game.
In the Class B ranks this weekend, both Rocky Boy and Harlem will be looking for a spot in the Northern B Divisional tournament. Of course, both teams reside in two of the best districts in Class B, so advancing won’t be a walk in the park.
The Morning Stars (7-11) are a talented team, but finished just 3-7 in the rigorous 1B. Led by senior shooter Chanal Standings Rock, as well as up-and-comers like Kylee Raining Bird and Jude and Minnie The Boy, the Morning Stars will be the No. 5 seed at this weekend’s 1B tourney in Cut Bank. Rocky Boy will square off in the first round Thursday with Conrad, a team the Morning Stars split with during the regular season. The winner will play Choteau in the semifinals, while Cut Bank squares off with Shelby in the other first-round game, and the winner will get top-ranked and defending state champion Fairfield in the other semifinal.
In Malta, the Wildcats (6-12) will look to move out of the 2B for just the second time in the last decade. Harlem has looked better than its record for much of the season, as players like Teche Ereaux, Coco Moore and Jaycee Werk have really stepped up. Harlem also has a very winnable first-round game, as the Wildcats take on Glasgow Thursday 1 p.m. The winner will face top-seeded Malta in the semifinals while second-seeded Wolf Point awaits the winner of Plentywood and Poplar in the other semifinal.
The top four teams from both the District 1B and District 2B tournament will advance to the Northern B Divisional March 6-8 in Conrad.
1B at Cut Bank
(4 teams advance)
6:30 p.m. - Conrad vs. Rocky Boy, first round
8 p.m. - Cut Bank vs. Shelby, first round
1 p.m. - Conrad-Rocky Boy winner vs. Fairfield, semifinal
2:30 p.m. - Cut Bank-Shelby winner vs. Choteau, semifinal
2B at Malta
(4 teams advance)
1 p.m. - Glasgow vs. Harlem, first round
6:30 p.m. - Plentywood vs. Poplar, first round
1 p.m. - Glasgow-Harlem winner vs. Malta, semifinal
6:30 p.m. - Plentywood-Poplar winner vs. Wolf Point, semifinal
10C at Conrad
(2 teams advance)
4 p.m. - Simms-Augusta vs. Sunburst, first round
5:30 p.m. - Dutton-Brady vs. Valier, first round
7 p.m. - Power vs. Heart Butte, first round
11:30 a.m. - Simms-Sunburst loser vs. Dutton-Valier loser, loser-out
6 p.m. - Simms-Sunburst winner vs. Dutton-Valier winner, semifinal
7:30 p.m. - Power-Heart Butte winner vs. Chester/J-I, semifinal