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Harlem, Rocky Boy aim for state in Shelby

Northern B girls tourney should be a barnburner


Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson

The Harlem and Rocky Boy girls battle during a regular season game back in January in Harlem. Both the Wildcats and Morning Stars open play the Northern B divisional tournament today in Shelby. The Wildcats are the defending Northern B champions, and will look to advance to the State B tourney for the second year in a row. For full coverage, see Monday's Havre Daily News Sports Section.

After the boys of the Northern B basketball wrapped up their divisional tournament last week, it is now the girls turn to compete in their 2020 Northern B Divisionals today through Saturday in Shelby.

In the case of Harlem and Rocky Boy, both teams survived their respective district tournaments to make it to the next level, where the competition only gets fiercer.

The Wildcats (18-1) secured the No. 1 seed after dominating in the District 2B, while the Morning Stars (10-11) have the No. 3 seed going into the Northern B Divisionals.

Harlem head coach Marlin Lawrence is looking forward to the tournament in Shelby.

"I think the Northern B divisional will be a great tournament," Lawrence said. "We got a lot of competitive teams that will be bringing their best to the divisional tournament. Everyone had an extra week to prepare and make any final adjustments for their teams."

And the Wildcats will look forward to a good first round matchup against the Choteau Bulldogs this afternoon, while Rocky Boy head coach Duane Gopher and his squad will start off against the Malta M-Ettes tonight at 8 p.m.

Both teams have been making moves throughout the season to get to where they are now, but the Northern B presents its own difficult challenges to overcome. But Harlem and Rocky Boy have some good elements to help them work through the future challenges.

When it comes to the one-loss Wildcats, there is no easy way around them. L'Tia Lawrence and Taya Trottier have been consistent leading scorers for Harlem, providing a primary offensive attack, while Taeshon Scheaffer and Kristyn Kittson are excellent players on both sides of the court.

Another big bonus for the Wildcats is their experience and leadership. Seniors Lawrence, Scheaffer, Kittson, Aria Owens and Kailee Henry all make up an important part of the leadership for Harlem. Their experience has been critical in the Wildcats' success throughout this year, as well. In the end, not only does Harlem contain a good offense, but it has the knowledge to back it up.

Meanwhile, the Morning Stars have been experiencing some ups and downs throughout the season. Despite that, Rocky Boy put forward a great push to claim the No. 3 seed in the District 2B.

With players like Angela Gopher, Mariah Arkinson and Kirsten LaMere making up a good part of the offensive front, seniors Sasha Coffee, Jaynah Gopher and Jeralyn Parker help lead the squad with their leadership and experience.

Those players have been a key part to helping the Northern Stars push through the tougher parts of the year, while making sure to fight hard while it counts. At the end of the day, Rocky Boy is a scrappy team that will make an opponent regret making the simplest mistakes.

If Harlem makes it past Choteau, the Wildcats will move on to the semifinals Friday. The same will go for Rocky Boy if the Morning Stars beat Malta. The winners of the semifinal matchups will move on to the Northern B championship game. At the end of the tournament, the top three teams punch a ticket to the Class B state tournament.

Coach Lawrence is ready for a great game against the Bulldogs today.

"We had a solid week and half of practice," Lawrence said. "We are ready to go play some ball and if things go our way, we hope to be playing on Saturday night for the divisional championship, but first our focus right now is the Lady Bulldogs."

The Northern B Divisionals in Shelby starts today and go until Saturday evening, with three teams moving forward to the last leg of the postseason. The Harlem Wildcats (18-1) start the tournament against the Choteau Bulldogs this afternoon while the Rocky Boy Morning Stars (10-11) will face off versus the Malta M-Ettes at 8 p.m. Thursday.


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