From the Fringe...
Blizzards and bitter cold might have grabbed the headlines this weekend, but high school basketball was as hot as ever.
And what a weekend it was for our local teams.
Great Falls was once again the site of the annual Northern C Divisional tournament, and as expected, the Box Elder boys stole the show. The Bears dominated all three games they played in winning their first Northern C title since 1990, which was also the last time Box Elder won a Class C boys state championship.
Now, I’ll admit, I didn’t think it would be as easy as it was for Box Elder, and neither did Bears’ head coach Jeremy MacDonald. After all, the Northern C tourney is typically one of the toughest tournaments in all of the Montana high school basketball postseason.
The Bears were challenged in certain moments this weekend at Four Seasons Arena, but those moments were brief and fleeting. In the end, Box Elder was clearly a step above every team in the field. The Bears were a superior team this weekend in Great Falls, and it’s been a long time since anyone has dominated the boys field the way Box Elder did this weekend.
Needless to say, if I were a fan of any of the other seven teams headed to this weekend’s Class C state tournament in Butte, I’d be pretty worried right now.
But the success didn’t end with Box Elder’s triumph in Great Falls.
No, further south in Belgrade, the Havre Blue Pony basketball teams both played Saturday night of the Central A tournament for the first time in ages. As expected, the Blue Pony girls rolled to their third straight Central A championship. The Ponies, under longtime head coach Dustin Kraske, have absolutely run wild over the Central A, and this past weekend was no exception.
But what made the Havre High girls’ triumph even sweeter is that the HHS boys got through the tournament for the first time in eight seasons. The Ponies’ win over Browning Thursday night proved good enough to get them into this week’s Class A state tournament.
Havre fell short of a chance to make it a Central A sweep, falling in a tough game to Belgrade Saturday night, but the sting of that loss shouldn’t last long because the Pony boys are going to state. It’s been a long time coming for a Havre boys team to get to state, and many very good Blue Pony teams in recent years have come agonizingly close. But now, the wait is over, and the Ponies are back in the state tournament field, and considering the Four Seasons Arena is right down the road from Havre, this should be an exciting week for Blue Pony basketball.
In all, five local teams played in games over the weekend, as the Chinook girls ended up in the Northern C consolation game, as did the Rocky Boy Stars in at the Northern B in Glasgow.
To me, that fact just proves once again how good high school basketball is on the Hi-Line. And thanks to the success of Box Elder and the Blue Ponies, just like winter isn’t over, neither is the excitement of high school hoops around these parts.