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February 28, 2014
Northwest Montana A Conference


C-Falls leads crowded NW-A into divisional

Posted: Thursday, February 27, 2014 12:25 am

Glacier High School is hosting the boys and girls Northwestern A Divisional Basketball Tournament this weekend with the first round of both beginning tonight.

Both Columbia Falls basketball programs hold the first seed in their respective brackets and will look to continue their winning ways in the postseason.

“During the first 18 games you want to prepare yourself for this time of the season,” Columbia Falls head coach Cary FInberg said, “Getting the number one seed with both (the boys’ and girls’) teams is important. It’s a new season now and we know anything can happen.”

In the boys bracket, the Wildcats (14-4 overall, 7-1 Northwestern A), ranked fourth in the state, await the winner of Polson and Libby who tip-off tonight at 7:30 p.m. 

Polson (4-14, 2-6) has defeated Libby (1-17, 0-8) twice this season and will hope for another victory over the Loggers, who are winless in the conference.

“The boys’ have been through this before. We’ve got a lot of guys with divisional and state tournament experience and success with that experience,” Finberg said. “Regardless if we play Polson or Libby, they know what they need to do and what it takes to be successful.”

The semifinal game against Columbia Falls will be Friday at 6 p.m. with the second semifinal coming directly afterwards at 7:30 p.m.

The second semifinal will feature second seeded Frenchtown (12-6, 6-2) and the third seeded Whitefish Bulldogs (10-8, 5-3). Whitefish split the season series with the Horsemen, and the winner of this game, the third between the two schools, will advance to the Divisional championship with a chance to earn a birth to the state tournament.

The consolation games will take place on Saturday, as will the championship game scheduled for 7:30 p.m.

The girl’s tournament will fall on the same days as the boys and has the same first seeded team.

The Wildkats (17-1, 8-0) have yet to lose a conference game and are ranked  and will play the winner of Thursday match-up, featuring fourth seeded Polson (3-15, 2-6) and fifth seeded Whitefish (1-17, 0-8).

“When we practice with our depth we feel we’re getting quality intensity in practice. We feel like we’re ready to go. We’re not gong to get much better experience that what we’ve seen so far this season,” Finberg added.

The Lady Pirates swept the season series with the Lady Bulldogs and will look for a third straight win over Whitefish as the teams are set to tip-off at 6 p.m.

Frenchtown (13-5, 6-2) and Libby (7-11, 4-4) square off in the semifinal in the bottom half of the divisional bracket on Friday at 4:30 p.m.

The girls divisional championship game is at 6 p.m. on Saturday.

Maroons eye another trip to state

Updated: February 26, 2014 at 5:58 pm

Senior guard Kale Guldseth and the Maroons are looking for yet another trip to the state tournament when Butte Central hosts the Southwestern A Divisional tournament.Senior guard Kale Guldseth and the Maroons are looking for yet another trip to the state tournament when Butte Central hosts the Southwestern A Divisional tournament.

The margin for error will be razor thin as the Butte Central boys’ basketball team tries to qualify for the Class A State tournament for the ninth time in 10 years.

Only two teams move on to state, and the Maroons enter the tournament knowing that one bad quarter could derail a 15-3 season in the blink of an eye. State is next week in Great Falls.

As the No. 2 seed in the conference — and the No. 3-ranked team in the Class A — the Maroons, who finished the season with an 8-2 record, received a bye to the semifinals.

There, BC will take on Anaconda (1-9, 4-14), or Stevensville (7-3, 11-7) at 6:30 p.m. on Friday. The Copperheads and Yellowjackets play at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday with a spot in that game on the line.

Corvallis (4-6, 9-9) will play Hamilton (1-9, 4-12) at 12:30 p.m. Thursday. The winner of that game will play Dillon (9-1, 16-2) in Friday’s 12:30 p.m. semifinal.

Baring a major upset, the Maroons will play Stevensville, a scary team just so happens to be the Class A defending state champion.

Jared Schultz is a cold-blooded scoring machine who leads the Yellowjackets (team stats) bid for a repeat, averaging 18.1 points per game. He’s hit on 34 shots from 3-point land in 18 games this season.

Zach Gavlack, a future Montana Tech football player, averages 14.6 points and 6.3 rebounds for the Yellowjackets, who lost a key part of the team midseason.

Junior Jesse Sims, the MVP at last year’s state tournament, transferred to Corvallis at the semester break. Sims, who is not eligible to play varsity because of transfer rules, averaged 11.2 points and 7.4 rebounds per game at the time of his untimely departure.

Butte Central’s only losses in Class A competition came against the Beavers, who suffered their first Class A loss last week against Stevensville in Dillon.

The talent-laden Maroons (team stats) are led by a pair of future Montana Tech Orediggers. Seniors Kale Guldseth and Nate Bolstad have been three year contributors for the Maroons.

Both have signed with the Orediggers, and both average 11.9 points per game to top a team that entered the season with high expectations. With the obvious exception of the lopsided home loss to Dillon, the Maroons have lived up to those lofty expectations.

Junior Marcus Ferriter adds 11.7 points and 4.7 per game for the Maroons, who have received serious contributions from up and down the roster this season.

Juniors Chad Peterson, Dalton Sessions and Danny Peoples have been key players, and senior Dylan Goodell emerged this season as a weapon off the bench. Senior Connor McGree, a future Carroll College football player, is Mr. Versatile for the Maroons. He does everything except score in bunches.

Sophomore guard Cal Hollow has came off the bench to play in every BC game this season. Cole Harper has also seen time.

The Copperheads (team stats), the other possible semifinal opponent of BC, enter the tournament after Saturday’s home loss to the Maroons. Sophomore Caleb Stetzner scored 18 points in an inspired effort that night. He averages 9.3 points per game.

Dennis Stanberry is the lone Copperhead averaging in double figures at 10.9. Cory Stanberry averaged 8.7 before suffering a gruesome season-ending broken leg.

Brandon Fode adds 7.3 points and 7.2 rebounds per game for the Copperheads, who made a surprise run at last year’s divisional tournament.

The unquestioned leader of the Beavers (team stats) is Troy Scott, who scored 36 points in a win over Butte High this month. The senior busted out this season and he’s averaging 21.1 points and 4.9 rebounds per game for Dillon, which was No. 1 in the Class A all season until Wednesday’s poll knocked them down to No. 2.

After Scott, the Beavers have a bunch of role players who are capable of going off for a big game. Justin Ferris came off the bench and scored 16 points in Dillon’s 60-28 win over the Maroons at the MAC earlier this month.

Corvallis (team stats) is a team that showed BC fans it has some serious talent less than two weeks ago.

Jayce Gilder averages 14.3 points and 10.1 rebounds to beat a team more than capable of pulling off an upset or two this weekend. Brigham Parris adds 10.6 points per game, while Alma Powell scores 8.9.

Josh Heath’s 11.6 points per game leads Hamilton (team stats), which pulled off a first-round stunner two years ago in the first round of the divisional tournament in Dillon.

Teague Blome averages 8.4 points per game, while Kameron Kohn chips in with 8.1 points and 5.6 rebounds.

The Maroons are banking on some home cooking to help lead them back to the state tournament. Head coach Brody Kelly is in his 10th season with the Maroons. He has put up a 155-73 record at his alma mater.

His team missed the state tournament two years ago. That is the only time BC wasn’t playing on the final weekend since 2004.

Dillon saw its long state tournament run end last season when the Beavers fell to BC in the semifinals then watched their challenge game hopes disappear as Stevensville knocked off the Maroons in front of a near-capacity crowd.



Belgrade boys seeking berth to State ‘A’ tourney

Central A Divisional begins Thursday in Belgrade

Posted: Tuesday, February 25, 2014 12:00 pm

Five teams will be battling for just two just state berths. Thus, it’s going to be a dogfight this weekend when Belgrade hosts the three-day Central A Divisional basketball tournament.

Belgrade enters as the defending divisional champion after winning the crown for the first time in 17 years a season ago. And, for the second straight year, the Panthers finished 7-1 in conference play, which came with a first round bye.

The Panthers have lost just twice in conference play over the past two years — both on the road at Browning. But fifth-year coach Mike Deming is taking nothing for granted when action begins Thursday in the Belgrade Special Events Center.

“It’s an impressive feat that we’ve accomplished in conference play,” he said. “But trust me, I’m willing to sacrifice any of those wins to get a couple more here this year.”

While Belgrade (12-6) split with Browning during the regular season, it earned the No. 1 seed due to points scored head-to-head. That means the second-seeded Indians (14-4, 5-3), who are last year’s divisional runner up, will battle third-seeded Havre (7-11, 4-4) in a first round game Friday at 1 p.m.

Fourth-seeded Fergus (6-12, 2-6) and fifth-seeded Park (4-14, 2-6) will play in the other first round game on Thursday at 6:30 p.m. Belgrade will play the winner Friday, also at 6:30 p.m., with the winner advancing to Saturday night’s divisional championship game.

By the time Friday rolls around Belgrade will have had 10 days off since beating Park, 61-44, in its regular season finale. The long break is not an ideal situation heading into the postseason, but Deming feels his team will be ready.

“That’s a big stretch to go without playing games at the end of the year,” he said. “But we’ll get these guys ready and we’ll do the best we can. And I know the guys will come ready to play next Friday against whoever we’re going to play.”

The other four teams in the conference wrapped up their regular seasons either Thursday or Saturday night. Thus, the Panthers know they’ll have some rust to shake off once they return to the court, something they hope to combat at practice.

“It’s all about just pushing each other and ourselves at practice,” senior Shiloh Christopher, who led the team during the regular season with 12.1 points per game, said. “Trying to get better every day and keeping that competitiveness against each other as much as possible.”

While Belgrade lost just once in conference play during the regular season, nothing came easy. The Panthers needed a fourth quarter rally in Lewistown to beat Fergus, 51-42, on Jan. 3. They’ve also been pushed in victories against Havre and Park.

The Central A has been one of the most competitive leagues this season, and not much is expected to change at the divisional tournament.

“I think our league is very good. It’s very competitive and I think there’s a lot of teams that are playing pretty good basketball and we’re right with them,” said Deming. “So it just comes down to executing and playing together as one unit, and I think whatever team does that best at the divisional tournament has the best chance of succeeding.”

The Panthers enter the postseason averaging 55.5 points per game. Of the team’s six losses, two have come to Class AA Bozeman, two to Butte Central (the Maroons are currently ranked third in Class A), and an early season home loss to Class AA Butte High.

But Belgrade has won 10 of its past 12 games and continues to improve in all facets of the game.

“We’re just trying to improve on a few things going into the divisional tournament that we can work on,” said Deming. “I like the direction we’re at. We’re shooting the ball extremely well and we’re sharing the basketball, and our defense is getting better.”

As a team, Belgrade is shooting 47 percent from the field inside the arc and 30 percent from beyond it. Christopher leads the team with 35 three-pointers and is averaging 4.4 rebounds per game. In the regular season finale against Park, he connected on 8-of-12 attempts en route to a game-high 19 points.

“He’s such an efficient scorer. He doesn’t have to take 17 to 20 shots to score. He takes great shots, and I think he only had 13 shots,” said Deming. “When we can get him open and get him the ball, he’s a good shooter.”

Senior Trevor Mahn ranks second on the team with 10.9 ppg, while junior Brayden Konkol has shined in the paint. The undersized post — he’s just 6-foot-1 — has averaged 8.9 points and a team-best 6.8 rebounds per game.

All three, as well as the rest of the team, will need to be on their A-game if the Panthers are to repeat this weekend.

“You really just got to expect that everybody’s going to bring their best game,” said Christopher. “You know that you can’t take a single play off. You’re going to have to work your hardest that entire tournament to win it again.”

Eastern A: Boys field has its sights set on top-seeded Laurel

2014-02-27T00:00:00Z 2014-02-27T00:14:07Z Eastern A: Boys field has its sights set on top-seeded LaurelBy GREG RACHAC grachac@billingsgazette.com The Billings Gazette

Rimrock Auto Arena at MetraPark will again host the combined boys and girls Eastern A divisional basketball tournament, which tips off Thursday.

Teams from Billings Central, Laurel, Hardin, Miles City, Glendive and Sidney jostle for two available state tournament berths on each side.

ONCOMING TRAIN: Top-seeded Laurel is the prohibitive favorite. The Locomotives rolled to their second straight 10-0 conference record with an average margin of victory of better than 14 points. Guards Taylor Maida and Evan Jones, and post Zac Allen are the catalysts ahead of a long bench.

ANOTHER TRY: The window of opportunity for Glendive’s seven seniors is closing. The second-seeded Red Devils are loaded with varsity experience, and were on the cusp of the state tournament last season but lost to Laurel in a challenge game. Is this their year to break though?

ANYONE ELSE? Will a team other than Laurel or Billings Central claim a spot in Saturday’s championship game? The Locomotives and Rams have dominated this tournament, having met in each of the past five title games. The last non-Laurel or Central team to win it was Glendive seven years ago.

3 players

Oliver Wallace, Hardin: The 6-foot-3 Wallace has a deft touch near the rim, which makes him very tough to defend. He leads the Eastern division and ranks second in Class A in scoring at 22.2 points per game, and has eclipsed the 30-point plateau four times.

Bryden Boehning, Glendive: Boehning has signed to play at Montana, which makes him the most high-profile player in the Eastern A. At 6-10, he’s also one of its most productive with averages of 16 points and 11 rebounds per game.

Brac Warren, Miles City: The big-bodied Warren (6-4, 220 pounds) can make shots from just about anywhere on the floor — posting up, fading away, behind the arc — which has made him the second most prolific scorer in the league (18.9 ppg).

3 trends

SECOND HOME: Defending tournament champion Central proved it can beat anybody — including Billings West, the No. 2-ranked team in Class AA. But the Rams have been wildly inconsistent. At least Rimrock Auto Arena is their safe haven, where they’re 10-1 in Eastern A tourney games since 2008.

DUAL THREAT: Sidney comes in having lost four straight. But the Eagles are dangerous because they have heady guard Paul Brannon and inside-outside forward Colin Moran. Together they combine for more than 24 points per game, and are the league’s only teammates to rank in the top seven in scoring.

TREAD LIGHTLY: Winning the Eastern A tournament hasn’t translated into state-tournament spoils. The last champion that went on to win the state title was Hardin way back in 1995. Last year, Billings Central became the first Eastern A champ in eight years to make it at least as far as the state title game.

Read more: http://billingsgazette.com/sports/high-school/basketball/boys/eastern-a-boys-field-has-its-sights-set-on-top/article_d12f165a-60f9-58f6-8b8d-231ce9d9f0dd.html#ixzz2uXKKPLHo

Teams seek trips to Great Falls


BELGRADE — Trips to Great Falls for the state tournament are on the line this weekend for boys’ and girls’ basketball teams from the Central A.

The combined tournament, with two spots in each state tourney up for grabs, got underway here Thursday at the Special Events Center.

Browning takes on Havre this afternoon at 1 in a boys’ semifinal game. Browning takes on Lewistown at 2:30 in a girls’ semifinal clash.

The Central A started on Thursday, albeit with just two games. Lewistown’s boys edged Livingston 53-50 as James Derheim buried a 3-pointer at the buzzer. The Eagles advance to meet Belgrade tonight at 6:30 in a semifinal.

The Havre girls also earned a bye into tonight’s semifinals.

In the boys’ race, Browning (5-3 Central A, 14-4 overall) finished second in league standings behind first-place Belgrade (7-1, 12-6). The Indians of coach Mark MaGee have seven players averaging seven or more points per game. Jake Bell is the leading scorer with 11.3 points per game, while George Hall adds 10.6. Joseph Bremner is averaging 8.9 points and 6.3 rebounds, while Josh Monroe is chipping in 8.6 points and 6.2 rebounds.

Havre (4-4, 6-12) has the conference’s leading scorer in Dane Warp, who averages 23.7 points per game. Kade Rismon averages 11.9 for the Blue Ponies, and Nate Rismon adds 7.9, but after that it drops off considerably. Warp is also the leading rebounder for Havre at 6.8, while Kade Rismon adds 5.7 boards per outing.

Lewistown (2-6, 6-12) is led by Logan Wilcox (15.5 ppg, 8.6 rpg) and Dylan Stenseth (11.7 ppg, 7.3 rpg). James Derheim adds 8.3 points and Morgan Ray is scoring at an 8.3 clip. The Eagles played Livingston Thursday night in a first-round game.

In the girls’ tourney, Browning (5-3, 9-9) is expected to challenge for the title under veteran coach Ray Augare. But Havre is a solid favorite.

“They’re so quick,” Augare said of coach Dustin Kraske’s Ponies. “And they’re experienced. They’ve been together for three years, most of them. They’ll get up and pressure you man-to-man and if you can’t handle it, you’ll have trouble.”

Browning is led by sophomore Tiera Gilham (14.6 ppg, 7.8 rpg). Kaylea Skunkcap and Rachel Heptner are also capable scorers.

Havre (7-1, 12-6) features three outstanding players in Peyton Filius, Brandy Lambourne and Morgan Mazurkiewicz. They all average double figures, with Filius leading the way at about 13 ppg. Lambourne, a Montana State-Northern signee, leads the team in assists and steals.

For Lewistown (5-3, 6-12), Mikaela Olson averages about 9 ppg. Jaree Mane averages about 8 points and 5 rebounds.

The State A Boys’ tourney begins next Thursday at Four Seasons Arena. The State A Girls’ tourney will be at Four Seasons March 13-15.

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