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District 9C teams looking to grab top spots in Havre


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Whether a team went undefeated or winless through the 18 regular season games, it doesn't really matter. Now heading into the District 9C Tournament, it's anybody's ball game. Wednesday through Saturday the Havre High gymnasium will be home to the District 9C tournament and one of the most competitive boys basketball venues around. The No. 1 Big Sandy Pioneers (10- 0, 15-3), No.2 Chinook Sugarbeeters (7-3, 13-5), No. 3 Box Elder Bears (5- 5, 7-11), No. 4 North Star Knights (4-6, 10-8), No. 5 Hays-Lodge Pole Thunderbirds (4-6, 7-11) and No. 6 Turner Tornadoes will all be in attendance this week, and should all push for the coveted top two spots. Boys play will begin Wednesday at 2:30 p.m. when the Knights take on the Thunderbirds. And at 8 p.m. action will resume with the Bears taking on the Tornadoes. With the Tornadoes going winless on the season, the Bears are the clear favorites. But the Knights and Thunderbirds tied during the regular season with a 4-6 conference record, as well as split in their two regular season meetings. "It has been a nice rebuilding year," Box Elder Head coach Zane Rosette said. "We started out slow, but lately the kids have really started to put some pieces together." On Thursday the No. 1 Pioneers will finally be in action. They will face the winners of the Knights/ Thunderbirds contest in the semifinals and have found success against both this season. Blake Brumwell and Corbin Pearson lead the way for the Pioneers, and will create a tough matchup for any competition with their size and scoring ability. Big Sandy has advanced out of the 9C tournament three straight years, and the Pioneers, under veteran head coach Roy Lackner, are gunning for their fourth straight Class C state tournament berth. At 8 p.m. the No. 2 Beeters will also face their first opponent on Thursday, taking on the winner of the Bears/ Tornadoes matchup in the other boys semifinal. The Beeters finished in the No. 3 spot at last year's 9C tournament, but with the exit of the Rocky Boys Stars, the Beeters are looking to land a No. 1 or No. 2 finish and go to the Northern C tournament for the first time since Chinook dropped to Class C five years ago. The Beeters, under head coach Chris Daniels, are led by Dylan MacLean and Lane Schmitt, both of whom are capable scorers. But Chinook also has a strong starting five, and can score from anywhere on the floor. Meanwhile, North Star and HLP also have strong offensive weapons. Both teams have played well at times in what has been considered a rebuilding year for both. Like Box Elder, Turner is also in a rebuilding mode after almost getting to the Northern C a year ago. The Tornadoes didn't return much experience this season, and they have a new head coach. But because it's tournament time, it's a fresh start for everyone, and that means anything can happen, so teams like Turner and HLP will be looking to pull upsets this week in Havre. Friday and Saturday's matchups won't be known until Wednesday and Thursday's night's action is in the books. But whether the Pioneers run the table, or the Tornadoes make a surprise appearance, it's clear that no team is overlooking the rest of the field. "Tournament time you don't put anything past anybody," Daniels said. "Everybody just steps their game up another level," Hays-Lodge Pole head coach Charlie Ereaux added. "It comes down to who makes less mistakes." Friday's action will all be loser-out action. The boys consolation game is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. on Saturday and the championship game will tip off at 8 p.m. on Saturday night. The top two teams from the 9C advance to next week's Northern C Divisional tournament in Great Falls. Rocky Boy was the defending 9C and Northern C champion, but since the Stars have moved to Class B, a new champion will be crowned at both tournaments this years. Rocky Boy has claimed the last two 9C titles, and the Stars also captured the Northern C championship last season. But the Stars are now the top-ranked team in Class B and will go after the District 1B championship later this week. The 2010 9C boys district tournament gets underway at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday and runs through Saturday night at the Havre High gymnasium.


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