First annual Montana All-Star Tribal Challenge starts Thursday


The Montana High School basketball season may be over, but that doesn't mean there isn't basketball still being played. For people still craving some intense hardwood action, they need to look no farther than Havre.

The Montana State University-Northern Athletics Department will be hosting the first Montana All-Star Tribal Challenge basketball tournament beginning Thursday.

The tournament, which runs in conjunction with MSU-Northern's Sweet Grass Society's Pow Wow, features top high school boys and girls players from Indian reservations around the state.

Teams representing Fort Belknap, the Chippewa Cree, Northern Cheyenne, Blackfeet, Fort Peck and the Apsaalooka Nation will be competing for prizes as well as bragging rights around the state of Montana.

"We believe that this tournament will help showcase Native American student-athletes in a positive light and highlight the excellent athletic skills that exist on our reservations," said Skylights basketball coach Mike Erickson. "In addition, we feel this tournament will give Indian students a chance to visit our campus, meet with faculty if they choose, and discover how exciting college life can be."

The girls tournament features six teams that will compete in a round robin format with each team playing twice on Thursday.

The local team representing the Chippewa Cree Tribe is loaded with familiar names to local hoop fans. Standouts from Rocky Boy, Box Elder and Havre High anchor the squad coached by Cory Sangrey. Box Elder's Tami Infante, who earned all-state honors this past season, along with teammates Brandy Lawrence and Ann Favel, who earned all-league honors, will join Havre High's Renessa Briere, one of the top rebounders in the Central A, on the squad.

The Fort Belknap team also features a solid lineup, including Deserae KillEagle and Amanda Messerly, who both earned all-conference honors at Dodson. Hays-Lodge Pole's Collette Hawley, an all-conference performer in 9C, and Suzi Kirkaldie will join with Belinda Horn and Olivia Main of Harlem on the squad.

Other top players in the tournament include Ashley Bird of Lodge Grass, Raeanna Howe of Hardin, Tamara Guardipee of Browning, and Ashley Moran and Sekoya Bighorn of Culbertson.

The format for the boys will be a little different with the seven teams competing in a double-elimination tournament.

The boys tournament rosters read like a who's who of Indian high school basketball players.

Leading the way is the Fort Belknap team, which features the entire starting five from the Harlem Wildcat team that finished third at this year's Class B state tournament. Seniors Hank Brockie, Colby Fetter, Chris Cole and juniors Jim Kennedy and Ben Carrywater anchor the squad, which also features Nathan Martin of Hays-Lodge Pole, Jeremy Messerly of Whitewater and Steve Hopkins of Dodson.

The Chippewa Cree will place two teams in the tournament, with one coached by Lloyd Henry and another by Mike Sangrey.

Henry's squad features several players from the District 9C regular season champion Box Elder Bears. The 9C's leading scorer, Marcus Standing Rock, will join teammates Neal Rosette, Dustin Sunchild, Aaron Henry and Tyler Henry. Also on the squad is Rocky Boy's leading scorer from last season in guard Jesse Colliflower.

Sangrey's squad consists entirely of Rocky Boy High players, including 6-3 Garrett DeMontiney and 6-2 Eric Watson.

Class C's leading scorer, Garren Goes Ahead, leads the Northern Cheyenne squad that also features Jeremy Deputee of Hardin, Tyson Gros Ventre and Elvis Old Bull Jr. of Lodge Grass.

The Blackfeet Nation team is expected to feature Corrie Morgan of Heart Butte, Alvin Yellow Owl, Thunder Harris and several other Browning High players.

The Fort Peck team also will boast a solid roster headlined by Tyson Bauer of Brockton, who scored 61 points in one game this season. Also on Fort Peck is Lauren Bighorn of Brockton and Shilo Four Star of Frazier.

The girls tournament will be played at the Havre Central Gymnasium and will begin Thursday at noon, while the boys tournament will start Thursday at noon at the MSU-Northern gymnasium.


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