From the Fringe...
When Box Elder players and fans carried sophomore Brandon The Boy off the Havre High gymnasium floor, and when the nets were cut down from both hoops, another District 9C basketball tournament came to an end.
It’s amazing how quickly it begins and just how fast it’s all over. But as fast as the 9C tourney went by this past week in Havre, it was no less special, and it left me, as well as all area fans, players and coaches with plenty of lasting memories.
The 2014 9C tournament wasn’t really high on drama. The higher-seeded team won every single game in both the boys and girls brackets. In both championship games, the favorites, the Box Elder boys and the Chinook girls, were a full step above the competition and they played like it, as both title bouts ended with double-digit final margins.
But none of the numbers and stats, or dominant performances by the Bears and Beeters diminished the excitement that is the 9C tourney. From the first quarter of Wednesday’s opening girls game between Box Elder and Turner to the final buzzer of Saturday night’s boys championship game, the 9C tournament was as fun and as exciting as ever.
And there’s plenty of reasons for that.
First, the fans make the 9C tournament what it is. As I looked around the HHS gymnasium throughout the week, time-and-time again, I was reminded of just how important this tournament is to so many people. From North Star and Hays-Lodge Pole fans to everyone in between, this week is about school spirit and community pride, and in that regard, every school was well represented.
Yes, it’s not a surprise that Box Elder and Chinook brought huge fan bases. Excitement is high surrounding those teams as the Bears, and both Chinook teams are having a great year and, alongside the North Star girls, are all marching on to the Northern C. But the support from the town of Turner, and from Hays and from Big Sandy was every bit as strong, and that’s what makes the 9C what it is. Whether a team is 0-18 or 18-0, the fans show up, they’re loud and they show their school spirit.
The 9C tournament wouldn’t be what it is without the hard work of so many either. There’s so many people who volunteer and work until the late hours of the night to make the 9C tourney not only run smooth, but make it the special and exciting event that it is. In fact, there are so many people who are responsible for making it the great week that it is, that I would need to write an extra column just to thank them all. But, they all know who they are and to anyone and everyone who worked tirelessly to make the 2014 9C tournament such a great event, I’d like to say thank you.
But the biggest thank-you I need to say is to the players and coaches, because they are the real and true heroes of the 9C tournament. Every player on every team that stepped foot on the HHS gymnasium floor this week in Havre gave it everything they had. Every player and every coach showed the immense pride and heart that personifies the 9C tournament.
When you watch a 9C tournament, even if it’s just for one game, you realize right away just how much the tournament means to these kids. These are kids that just a few years ago were in the stands watching and dreaming of the day they would get their chance to be on the floor, playing in a 9C tournament game, and when that day comes it means everything to those kids. You can see just how special it is to each and every player in each and every game. It’s plain as day.
Yes, the teams, the players and the coaches from Box Elder, North Star, Big Sandy, Turner, Chinook and Hays-Lodge Pole, they are the stars of the show. They all came to Havre with a dream of winning a 9C championship and moving on to the Northern C. And while only the Box Elder and Chinook boys and Chinook and North Star girls fulfilled that dream this weekend, every single player, on every single roster fulfilled their own dream, which is to come to Havre and play in the District 9C tournament. For all of the players who played this week, that’s a dream come true in itself.
And for all the youngsters who were in the crowd from the six great schools which make up the 9C tourney, keep dreaming because your time to play in the special week that is the 9C tournament is coming.