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Rocky Boy is ready to roll

Stars fought hard to reach the Class B state tournament in Missoula

 

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson

Rocky Boy star senior Ben Iron Eyes handles the ball during a game against the Havre Blue Ponies back in January. The Stars are making their first trip to the Class B state tournament in three years, when they travel to Missoula for the 2018 Class B state tourney, which runs Thursday through Saturday at Dahlberg Arena. The Stars have been strong all season and are one of the top-scoring teams in the state. And while they weren't able to get past arch rival Shelby in either the District 1B, or Northern B championship games, they will still be one of the favorites to play for the state title this weekend. Rocky Boy opens with Three Forks Thursday afternoon.

It has been three years since the Rocky Boy Stars have participated in the Class B state basketball tournament, but after winning a challenge game, the Stars will head to Missoula Thursday with a chance to compete for a state championship.

Rocky Boy, which is the second seed from the Northern B will face a difficult test early in the form of Southern B champion Three Forks (21-4). Tip-off between the two teams is set for 1:30 p.m. at Dahlberg Arena at the University of Montana.

"I went to Billings and watched them play," Rocky Boy head coach Adam Demontiney said. "They are a good team. They are a state tournament team. But at this time of year, every team is going to be good. We have to play at a high level and play our game. That's going to be the key."

The last time Rocky Boy played in the state tournament was back in 2015, Demontiney's first season on the job. After beating Malta in a Northern B challenge game that season, the Stars eventually went on to take third place. This time around, Rocky Boy beat Fairfield in a challenge game to make state and if they are going to play Saturday night at the state tournament, the Stars will need big efforts from Ben Iron Eyes, Kendall Windy Boy and Kordell Small. Olin Arkinson and Frankie Bacon are two other key contributors.

"I think that we stack up pretty well with everyone else," Demontiney said. "I would go with my guys over anyone else in the state."

Most of the time, the state tournament is played right after divisionals. However, the Stars clinched their berth over a week ago and will have had a nine-day layoff when Thursday rolls around.

"I think that it was good for us," Demontiney said. "It allowed us to get some rest. We had some guys with turned ankles and things, so we were able to take advantage of it."

Three Forks is fresh off a championship at the Southern B, which sent four of the eight teams to the state tournament. The Wolves finished second in the District 5B, but rode a wave of momentum last weekend in Billings at the Metra to be the top seed from the South. Like the Stars, the Wolves have a solid group of core players led by Micaiah Hauser, Colter Miller and Payden Lynn.

"A big thing for us is going to be our defense," Demontiney said. "If we are doing a good job on the defensive end, we are going to be tough to beat."

While the Stars are certainly going to be a team to reckon with at state, another team from the Northern B, Shelby, will be looking to make a run. The Coyotes, led by Montana State University-Northern commit T.J. Reynolds will take on Colstrip, the third-seeded team from the Southern B Thursday night at 6:30. The winner of that game will advance to the semifinals against either Anaconda, the second seed from the West, which is led by one of the top scorers in Class B Braxton Hill, or Lodge Grass, the second-place team from the South.

If Rocky Boy is able to knock off Three Forks Thursday, it will take on either Bigfork (22-0), the top seed from the Western B or Joliet, the fourth-seeded team from the Southern B. If there was a favorite going into the state tournament, it might just be Bigfork, as the Vikings are undefeated and have put together a number of impressive wins this season.

Not only have the Vikings defeated Anaconda twice, but they also dominated Shelby back in December 64-38. In fact, most of their wins have come pretty easy and only once have they won by single digits and that came against Anaconda in the semifinals of the Western B when it took two overtime periods. Bigfork is also 3-0 against Class A competition, beating Polson, Ronan and Columbia Falls.

If the Stars advance to the semifinals, they would play Bigfork or Joliet Friday night at 6:30. Since Class B runs a dual state tournament, the game times for Saturday night are as follows: The consolation game will be played at 5 p.m, followed by the championship game at 8 p.m. For more on Rocky Boy, see Thursday's Havre Daily News sports section. And for complete coverage of the Stars at state, follow the HDN all weekend long.

 

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