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Home » Boys' Basketball News

STATE 'A' TOURNEY PREVIEW

March 12, 2009
Northwest Montana A Conference



It's anyone's ballgame at State A
By CHARLES PULLIAM of the Missoulian

  

As Columbia Falls coach Cary Finberg said, if there were eight different State A boys' tournaments to be played out, there would probably be a different winner each time.

That's how tight this year's State A tournament in Great Falls is expected to be as no team stands alone.

"You look at the eight teams and they're all very good," Finberg said. "Some years you have a team roll in with one loss or none, but not this year. It's going to be a very competitive tournament."

 
The Wildcats enter the tournament with the top seed from Northwestern A and face Corvallis, the second seed from Southwestern A, in the tournament opener Thursday at 12:30 p.m. at ExpoPark. Dillon plays Whitefish in the nightcap, with defending champ Browning facing Laurel, and Billings Central tangling with last year's runner-up Butte Central.

"It really does feel like all eight teams have the ability to win the tournament," Beavers' coach Terry Thomas said. "Each team has lost a few games."

Dillon enters with the best overall record at 17-3, with losses coming to Whitefish (16-5), Corvallis and Helena Capital. The Beavers are aiming to improve on a third-place finish last season, but have to get by the Bulldogs. Thomas said he is wary of facing Whitefish again, which earned an early season 68-47 win over the Beavers on Dec. 13.

"They have a great overall starting five and when you add what I think is the best player in the northwest in Colt Idol, they are tough," Thomas said.

Idol scored 26 in the early win and led the Northwestern A in scoring with a 20.3 average. Dillon senior Bryce Carver (17.2 ppg) could offset Idol.

The Bulldogs have had two straight state trips end in disappointment.

"We have seven seniors and this is it for them," Whitefish coach Eric Stang said. "They can't just be happy with going (to state) anymore."

Columbia Falls' guard play will be a key ingredient if the Wildcats are to move past the bigger Blue Devils in the first round.

Senior Mackey Nolan dished out 24 assists and had just three turnovers in three divisional tournament games. The same mistake-free style of play will be needed, Finberg said. Nolan also led the Wildcats (13-7) in scoring during the regular season, averaging more than 11 points per game.

Corvallis big man Dalton Sybrant anchors the middle for the balanced Blue Devils (13-6). The 6-foot-7 senior was tied for second in the Southwestern A in scoring, netting 14.9 points per game. Freshman Riley Bradshaw - Corvallis coach Dave Bradshaw's son - also put up 14.9 per game for the Blue Devils and sophomore Rodee Anderson (13.1 ppg) adds to a young, potent backcourt.

"I really feel like it is up for grabs for anyone," Bradshaw said.

Billings Central (16-5) boasts some size and beat Laurel (14-6) in the Eastern A championship game 56-48. Butte Central (11-10) made it back to state with a 56-44 win over Havre in a challenge game. Browning (15-5) had topped the Maroons 47-39 in the Central A title game.

State A boys

At Great Falls

Thursday

12:30 p.m. - Columbia Falls (13-7) vs. Corvallis (13-6)

2 p.m. - Browning (15-5) vs. Laurel (14-6)

6:30 p.m. - Billings Central (16-5) vs. Butte Central (11-10)

8 p.m. Dillon (17-3) vs. Whitefish (16-5)

Browning seeks repeat

By Tribune Staff • March 12, 2009

Dillon and Whitefish have the high-profile guards, while Billings Central and Corvallis boast the best post players.



 

But the well-balanced Browning Indians might still be the team to beat at the state Class A boys' basketball tournament, which begins today at Four Seasons Arena.

Coach Ray Augare's Indians not only are the defending champions, but they'll have a huge fan advantage for the three-day event at Montana ExporPark.

"I like our chances," Augare said before making the two-hour drive from the Blackfeet Reservation to the Electric City.

"We've been there, and I've found out that experience (in state tournaments) really helps. And since it is close to home, we should have a really good following."

Action starts at 12:30 this afternoon with Northwest A champion Columbia Falls (13-7) facing Corvallis (13-6). Then at 2, Central A champ Browning (15-5) meets Laurel (14-6).

The night session opens at 6:30 with Eastern A winner Billings Central (16-4) facing Butte Central (11-10). The final game at 8 pits Southwest A power Dillon (17-3) against Whitefish (16-5).

Browning, Butte Central, Dillon and Billings Central finished 1-2-3-4 last year at the state tourney in Billings, but most of the top players from those teams have graduated. That's one reason why Dillon coach Terry Thomas thinks this may be the most balanced field in many years.

"We've played three of the seven, and everybody seems like they're very solid," said Thomas, who had to replace four starters from a year ago. "Nobody is dominating over somebody else. There's a lot of parity ... there's nobody we can overlook, and there's nobody we can't beat."

The Beavers are led by 6-1 senior guard Bryce Carver, who averages 17 points per game, but is capable of much bigger outputs when needed. He's headed to the University of Montana to play football next year, but many believe he could play basketball in college. Trevor Rehm, a 6-3 junior, is Dillon's tallest starter, and Brandon Boka and Dakota Norris are other solid scorers.

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Whitefish features 6-3 senior Colt Idol, who averages 20 ppg for coach Eric Stang. The Bulldogs defeated the Beavers in a preseason tourney; Dillon's only other losses were to Class AA Helena Capital, and Southwest A rival Corvallis.



 

Browning also lost earlier this season to its first-round foe, Laurel, at the Tip-Off Tournament in Butte.

"We played them the second game year and lost by about 12," recalled Augare. "We also lost to Hardin our first game ... since then we've had a lineup change, and we're a different team now."

The Indians lost standouts like DJ Fish, Brenden Weatherwax and Andrew Spotted Wolf from the team that trounced Butte Central for the state title in 2008.

Current Browning leaders include 6-4 junior Cody Edwards, 6-1 Lyle St. Goddard, 6-5 A.J. St. Goddard and 5-10 Daniel Calf Boss Ribs. All score between 10 and 15 ppg.

Laurel has a solid post player in 6-4 Jarred Hergett, and guard Jake Mogan is the best outside shooter for coach Pat Hansen. The Locomotives limit opponents to about 45 ppg.

Billings Central probably has the most talented big man in 6-7 senior Joel Barndt, who averages 14.6 points and 9.5 rebounds per contest. He teams with Ben Nearpass and Cole Cattelen to score about 40 ppg for coach Shel Hanser.

The Rams are undefeated against Class A competition, having lost only to AA rivals Billings Skyview and Billings Senior.

One of the Rams' victories was against today's foe, Butte Central, which needed to beat Havre in a Central A challenge game to qualify for state. Coach Brodie Kelly's Maroons have three sophomore starters, but get good leadership from senior guards Casey Norbeck and Josh LeProwse.

Corvallis has a solid 6-7 post player in Dalton Sybrant, and coach Dave Bradshaw also has good outside gunners led by his son, Riley, plus Rodee Anderson and Drew Zeiler.

The Blue Devils face a solid Columbia Falls club that features Mackey Nolan, Mitchell Wassan and Grant Gates. Coach Cary Finberg has won state championships before, and the Wildcats may be flying under the radar entering the event this weekend.

Actually, a lot of teams may fit that description, said Augare.

"I think it's pretty even. A lot of teams have lost people, and whoever shows up ready to play can take it," said Augare.


Whitefish features 6-3 senior Colt Idol, who averages 20 ppg for coach Eric Stang. The Bulldogs defeated the Beavers in a preseason tourney; Dillon's only other losses were to Class AA Helena Capital, and Southwest A rival Corvallis.


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Browning also lost earlier this season to its first-round foe, Laurel, at the Tip-Off Tournament in Butte.

"We played them the second game year and lost by about 12," recalled Augare. "We also lost to Hardin our first game ... since then we've had a lineup change, and we're a different team now."

The Indians lost standouts like DJ Fish, Brenden Weatherwax and Andrew Spotted Wolf from the team that trounced Butte Central for the state title in 2008.

Current Browning leaders include 6-4 junior Cody Edwards, 6-1 Lyle St. Goddard, 6-5 A.J. St. Goddard and 5-10 Daniel Calf Boss Ribs. All score between 10 and 15 ppg.

Laurel has a solid post player in 6-4 Jarred Hergett, and guard Jake Mogan is the best outside shooter for coach Pat Hansen. The Locomotives limit opponents to about 45 ppg.

Billings Central probably has the most talented big man in 6-7 senior Joel Barndt, who averages 14.6 points and 9.5 rebounds per contest. He teams with Ben Nearpass and Cole Cattelen to score about 40 ppg for coach Shel Hanser.

The Rams are undefeated against Class A competition, having lost only to AA rivals Billings Skyview and Billings Senior.

One of the Rams' victories was against today's foe, Butte Central, which needed to beat Havre in a Central A challenge game to qualify for state. Coach Brodie Kelly's Maroons have three sophomore starters, but get good leadership from senior guards Casey Norbeck and Josh LeProwse.

Corvallis has a solid 6-7 post player in Dalton Sybrant, and coach Dave Bradshaw also has good outside gunners led by his son, Riley, plus Rodee Anderson and Drew Zeiler.

The Blue Devils face a solid Columbia Falls club that features Mackey Nolan, Mitchell Wassan and Grant Gates. Coach Cary Finberg has won state championships before, and the Wildcats may be flying under the radar entering the event this weekend.

Actually, a lot of teams may fit that description, said Augare.

"I think it's pretty even. A lot of teams have lost people, and whoever shows up ready to play can take it," said Augare.


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