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The H.I.T is back, though it will look a little different


Last updated 3/31/2021 at 7:57am

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson

Havre High's Yelena Miller is one of several area standouts who will play in this weekend's H.I.T. The annual all-star high school tourney returns to Havre after being canceled last year due to the pandemic.

The HIT basketball tournament is back this weekend after missing the 2020 event because of the COVID-19 pandemic. It will be held at the Havre High Gymnasium, making it the 12th year in a row since Havre started hosting the high school all-star basketball tournament.

Chris Mouat, the tournament's co-director and MSU-N women's basketball coach, believes that everyone will be happy to be back after missing last year.

"I think everybody missed it," Mouat said. "It was tough for us and I think hard for the kids not to get that opportunity to play."

There will be four boys and four girls teams participating in the tournament. Each team represents the four classifications in Montana high-school sports: AA, A, B and C.

"All four of the rosters on the boys and girls sides are really good," Mouat said. "The coaches that put these teams together go out and they try to get the best players possible and they've all done a great job for us."

A unique aspect of the tournament is that it will allow players to play on the same teams with their opponents from the regular season.

"They get to play with kids that they've butted heads with all season long," Mouat said. "Their arch rival is now their teammate and I think that's what makes this tournament unique."

Some familiar names on the Class A boys team include Havre seniors Kellen Detrick Jr. and Josh Warp. Lewistown's Royce Robinson will also play on the team and state-champion Billings Central will be represented by Malachi Stewart.

Havre will be represented on the Class A girls team by senior Kylie Walker, junior Sadie Filius and sophomore Yelena Miller. Fellow Northeast A school Glendive will have Jillian Litwiller on the team. State runner-up Billings Central will be represented by Mya Hanson and Isabella Erickson. Both Class A teams will be coached by Havre head coach Walynn Burgess.

The District 9C will have players on the Class C boys team such as Fort Benton's Hayden Diekhans and Chinook's Reese Elliot and Ethan Bell. State champion Scobey will be represented on the Class C team by Aiden Fishell, Jayce Tande and Caden Handran.

Aspen Giese of state-champion Fort Benton will play on the Class C girls team. Shyan Krass from fellow District 9C school Turner will also play on the team. State runner-up Saco-Whitewater-Hinsdale will also be represented by Kia Wasson, Jaycee Erickson and Kaitlyn McColly. Belt head coach Jeff Graham will coach both Class C boys and girls teams.

Rocky Boy's Joe Demontiney will compete on the Class B boys team. State-champion Lodge Grass will only have one player on the team in Damon Gros Ventre. Caden Holgate of state runner-up Manhattan will also play in the tournament for the Class B team.

Taya Trottier of Harlem will compete on the Class B girls team. She will be joined by members of state-champion Sweet Grass such as Bailey Finn, Hailee Brandon and Emily Cooley. Payton West will also represent state runner-up Columbus on the team.

On the Class AA boys team, state champion Billings Skyview will be represented by Cam Ketchum, Ky Kouba and Payton Sanders. Levi Torgerson, Reid Harris and Drew Wyman of state runner-up Great Falls High will also play for the Class AA team. Sophomore Eli Hunter of Gallatin will be competing in the HIT tournament for the first time.

State-champion Helena Capital will only have one member of the Class AA girls team with Dani Bartsch. State runner-up Missoula Hellgate will be well represented on the team with Addy Heaphy, Bailee Sayler and Lauren Dick.

The teams will compete in a round-robin tournament format Friday and Saturday. Each team will play three games each before getting seeded into either a consolation or championship game Saturday. There will also be other competitions such as a three-point contest and slam dunk contest Friday.

Not only will the HIT tournament allow players to get more in-game reps, but it will give them the chance to impress college recruiters. While most seniors have already committed to their colleges, the tournament will give underclassmen a chance to get their names out there.

"A lot of kids that have not committed are going to come here and they're going to get seen a little bit more," Mouat said. "They're going to get that opportunity to shine, so you never really know until you roll the ball out there."

The HIT tournament will start Friday at 9 a.m. at the HHS gym. Saturday, the girls consolation game will be at 1 p.m. and the boys consolation game will be at 2:15 p.m. The girls championship game will then be at 3:30 p.m. and the boys championship will end the tournament at 4:45 p.m.


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