__MAIN_TEXT__

Page 1

16

2017-2018

December 2017

Dec. 15th-16th December 16th December 19th December 21st January 5th-6th January 6th January 12th-13th January 13th January 19th January 19th-20th January 20th January 23rd January 27th February 3rd February 9th-10th

WINTER SPORTS

Coeur d' Alene, Idaho ~ Idaho Great Falls (JV) ~ Great Falls Lewistown ~ Lewistown 5:00 p.m. Sidney 5:00 p.m. Glendive 6:00 p.m. ~ Sidney Cut Bank Invite ~ Cut Bank Cut Bank Invite (JV) ~ Cut Bank Missoula Invite ~ Missoula John Fisher (JV) ~ Missoula Chinook (JV) ~ Chinook 3:30 p.m. Class "A" Duals ~ Lewistown 1:00 p.m. Harlem (JV) ~ Harlem Glasgow ~ Havre 5:30 p.m. Malta ~ Malta Divisionals ~ Belgrade State ~ Billings

www.havredailynews.com

No end in sight to the Blue Pony wrestling dynasty Havre High loaded for a run at a sixth straight Class A title Chris Peterson Havre Daily News sports writer gferguson@havredailynews.com The Havre High wrestling team is in the midst of a historic run of state championships, and despite losing two of the greatest wrestlers in program history, the Blue Ponies have no intention of abdicating their thrown in Class A wrestling. Some teams around the state may view the 2017-18 wrestling season as a chance to take down the Ponies, following the graduation of three state champions, Parker Filius, Jase Stokes and Dane Flammond. However, with three state champs returning, along with a slew of others with experience finding the podium at state, Havre isn’t going anywhere, anytime soon. “We are spread out well, we have three state champs back and two other finalists in the lineup,” HHS head coach Scott Filius said, ”so it’s not like the cupboard is bare. Right now, the kids are really buying in and working hard. We have great leadership and we are spread out, so it’s going to be fun.” Havre may return just two individual state champions from the 2017 Class A state tournament, but the healthy return of Tyler Schaub, who won a state title at 205 pounds as a sophomore in 2016, gives Havre three former state champions. “He is 100 percent,” Filius said. “He has been looking good. Having him back means a ton, we missed him last year.” Schaub will be going for his second state title this winter, while Wilkie, a junior, will be looking to win his third straight championship. Reno, a sophomore, will be going for two in a row. In addition to those three wrestlers, Havre also returns Lane Paulson and Cameron Pleninger, who were each finalists a season ago. Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson Havre High senior Lane Paulson, left, throws a GFH opponent during the 2017 Havre Invitational earlier this month. Paulson and the Blue Ponies are chasing a remarkable sixth straight Class A team title this winter. Paulson is also one of many returning All-State performers for longtime head coach Scott Filius.

Yet, those five are far from the only Havre wrestlers with a successful pedigree at the state tournament. Ryan Stewart has placed three times at state and will be looking to add that elusive individual state title this season as he will wrestle at 132 pounds. Havre also got a pair of top-three finishes from Mason Dionne and Connor Harris, who were third at 152 and 132 pounds respectively, last season as freshmen. In all, Havre has eight wrestlers back who found the podium at state in 2017, as well as others such as Austin Ratliff, Taylor Gopher and Marc Ramirez who have previous state wrestling experience, as does Schroeder, who also missed last season due to injury. “We have a lot of young guys that did really well last year,” Filius said, “but I don’t think any of them are satisfied with that. I would suspect that all of them want to keep pushing to reach that next level and I expect them to get there. All these kids have worked really hard, not only in these first couple weeks of practice but all offseason.” Havre will certainly have a lot of the same faces back from last season, but many of them will be wrestling at different weights in 2017. At the top of the lineup, in the 103-pound weight class, Havre will turn to freshman Mick Chagnon. Pleninger will then move up to 113 pounds and Reno will bump up to 120. Ramirez will wrestle at 126 pounds for HHS, followed by Stewart at 132 pounds, Paulson at 138 pounds and Wilkie, who will move up from 126 to 145. Harris, a sophomore, is another who is jumping up in weight this season, wrestling at 152 pounds, as is Dionne, who will go up to the 170-pound weight class. Gopher will wrestle at 160 pounds for the Ponies, and when Schroeder is healthy he will wrestle at 182 pounds, followed by Schaub at 205 pounds and Ratliff in the heavyweight division. Havre opened the season at the Havre Invitational and the pretigious Mining City Duals. The Blue Ponies' season culminates with the Eastern A Divisional in Belgrade Feb. 3 and the All-Class State Tournament Feb. 9-10 in Billings.


2

2017-2018

December 2017

December 15th December 16th January 6th January 13th January 19th January 20th January 27th February 3rd February 9th-10th

WINTER SPORTS

Great Falls ~ 4:30 p.m. Great Falls ~ 12:00 p.m. Class "A" Meet ~ Hardin ~ 1:00 p.m. CMR/Great Falls High School ~ 12:00 p.m. Great Falls High School ~ 4:00 p.m. Missoula ~ TBA Havre ~ 12:00 p.m. Open State ~ Great Falls

www.havredailynews.com

www.havredailynews.com

WINTER SPORTS

Chinook, Harlem Havre High swimmers hope for a return to racing for excellence in form on the mat and out of the pool

Pony swim teams excited and read to dive into a challenging new season George Ferguson Havre Daily News sports editor gferguson@havredailynews.com

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson Havre High senior Jessica Otto swims the butterfly during last year's Havre Invitational at the Havre Community Pool. The 2017-18 swimming season is underway for the Blue Pony boys and girls swim teams, coached by second-year head man Bill Kilgore.

2017-2018

Swimming at Havre High has always been a strong tradition. And that tradition won’t change this winter, as the Blue Ponies get set to jump in the pool once again. Havre High is led by second-year head coach Bill Kilgore, and the Pony boys and girls are excited about the upcoming season, after the Havre girls finished third in Class A a year ago and the Pony boys finished fifth. “Our team is very excited to start this year,” Kilgore said. “We’ve had record attendance at our voluntary open pool swims in the pre-season and our roster numbers are up again this year.  They truly are working as hard as they can to bring a championship to Havre.” Both of Kilgore’s squads also return plenty of talent to the pool, too, starting with Amelia Miller, who returns after having reached two finals at last year’s Montana State Swimming Championships. Miller is already highly decorated, and she comes back as one of the top freestyle swimmers in the state. Miller is also part of a strong group of returning Pony girls, including Jessica Otto (butterfly), Jillian Reighard (all-around), Hannah Lunak (backstroke) and Lacey Huseby (butterfly). Kilgore also expects contributions from newcomers Kobi Burchard and Megan Miller, among others. Morgan Flammond, Alexis Haney, Gabriella Kucera, Victoria Messineo, Brynna Nault, Aria Pratt, Hannah Pratt, Angela Rhines, Kimberly Shanks, Star Thomas, Laura Vance and Carsyn Vogel will also impact the Pony girls. “The girls team once again will be a solid team built with strong depth and a punch of strong talent on the upper end,” Kilgore said. “Leading the way are our senior girls and captains, Amelia Miller, Jess Otto and Jillian Reighard. Those girls are setting the bar high and teaching the newcomers just what it will take to meet the lofty goals of a state championship.  The strength of the team, though, is the consistent depth in all the strokes across all of the classes.” The Pony girls are just two years removed from their last state championship, and

they’ll be chasing one again this season, though Billings Central and Whitefish will be tough, as well. Meanwhile, the Havre boys have been building in recent years, and though the Ponies did lose several key seniors from last year’s team, they should be strong again, led by the return of Paxtin McCann (butterfly), Jacob Miller (breaststroke), Noah Gjesdahl (freestyle), Ammon Lines (all around) and John Klein (freestyle), while Riley Kilgore, Aylan Pratt and Logan Twombly are also back, as is Kabe Burchard. Christian Mathis is a newcomer Kilgore is excited about, as well “The boys team has been a work in progress the last few years as we rebuild the numbers and depth,” Kilgore said. “We continue with growth and depth as our goal, as well as improvement in the standings. This year’s team will be led by a patchwork of all the classes that are quickly gaining confidence. The team’s strength lies in the core of young men that has helped lead the boys team back to success.” Of course, the Havre boys always have to contend with strong teams from Billings Central and Hardin, while Whitefish is quietly building a strong program, as well. But Kilgore also sees so much potential, along with plenty of talent in both of his teams, and that should make for an exciting season in the pool. Havre's schedule, which started with the Havre Invitational, also helps the Ponies progress. Havre will race in four different regular season meets with Class AA and A competition in Great Falls this season, as well as take part in the prestigius Missoula Invitational and the annual Class A Meet, which is slated for Jan. 6 in Hardin. "Our team’s motto this year is ‘Choose Excellence,’” Kilgore said.  “The Blue Pony swim team will always have the goal of a state championship, but in order to do that, our swimmers must choose to do all of the little things in order to reach such a lofty goal. So our goal, first and foremost, is to make good decisions as individuals and as a team across all aspects of our swimmers’ lives; nutrition, work ethic, responsibility, dependability, accountability and honesty just to name a few. So the measurable goal will always be a championship, but the real goal for this team is to learn how to make the choices to get there.” As always, the Ponies will work their way through a tough schedule in December and January, building up to the Montana State Swimming Championships, which will be held Feb. 9-10 in Great Falls.

Chris Peterson Havre Daily News sports writer gferguson@havredailynews.com

The Chinook wrestling program fell just short of reaching the podium at the Class C state wrestling tournament in 2017, but with 11 wrestlers in tow, including a talented freshman class, the Sugarbeeters plan on being back sooner not later. Of course, the Beeters have a big advantage of lots of teams in the state, just based off the coaching staff, which is led by co-head coaches Perry Miller and Adam Tilleman. The two have overseen numerous state championships and most recently consecutive state championships in 2015 and 2016. Chinook also won straight championships from 2009-2012, meaning the Beeters have won six of the the last nine Class C wrestling championships. But as is generally the case in high schools, there is change from one season to another and Chinook wrestling is no different. Gone to graduation is two-time state champion, three-time finalists and four-time medalist, Tate Niederegger. He racked up a lot of points at the state tournament over the past few seasons, but Miller said he feels good about this group. “I am really excited about these kids,” Miller said. “Of course, you don’t really know until you get out and see what you have, but these kids have been working extremely hard, and I think they are going to come together nicely at the end of the season.” Niederegger may have been the only Chinook wrestler to find the podium last season, but he was joined at state by J.T. Hauer, a sophomore who returns for Chinook this season to wrestle at 152 pounds. “J.T. has really improved,” Miller said. “He went and did the Disney Duals with the Sidney team and he did really well there. He really put in a lot of work over the summer.” In addition to Hauer, some of the other returners this season for Chinook are Garrett Lowham (145), Colton Riddle (138), Ross Reed (152) and Reubin Swenson (205). Miller said he was also excited about his freshman class which features Austin Swanson at 103 pounds, Garrett Pruttis (120), the brother of former state champion Kenny Pruttis, and Rebecca Stroh, the sister of Ben Stroh, a fourtime state champion and an NAIA NAtional Champion. Ty Mitchell (182), Riley Weigand

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson Colton Liddle, left, is part of a new-look roster for head coach Perry Miller's Chinook wrestling team. The Sugarbeeters will be young this season, but they're anxious to get back in the Class C state championship hunt. and Favion Courutier round out the roster. “We have never had a girl in our program,” Miller said, “but we are definitely excited about it. There are women’s programs all over the place. She seems to enjoy it, she is working hard. We haven’t slowed anything down for her and she keeps up.” With a mix of young talent and veterans, the long-time Chinook coach said that when the state tournament rolls around in February, his team will be ready to contend. However, the Beeters aren’t the only local program in Class B-C wrestling. Harlem had four wrestlers make it to state a season ago and three of them, Curtis Humphreys, Zach Johnson and Gavin Horn are back this season for the Wildcats. Joining Harlem and Chinook in wrestling this season will be Big Sandy, Chester-Joplin-Invernes and Hays-Lodge Pole. The Northern B Divisional wrestling tournament will be held Feb. 3, with the All-Class State tournament taking place the following week Feb. 9-10 at the Metra in Billings.

December 2017

15

Box Elder: Bears going for six 9C's in a row ■ From Page 7 lead the Bears into the future, he said he is lucky that MacDonald is still around. “Everything has been going really good,” Myers said. “I am lucky to have Jeremy around still to show me the ropes and help me with this transition from being an assistant, to being the head coach. I am still just trying to follow in his footsteps and follow the example that he set for this program.” While Myers has some big shoes to fill on the sidelines, his players have some big shoes to fill on the court, too. Box Elder lost three players who received All-Conference honors in the 9C last season, in Pernell Morsette and Trey Henderson, who each earned Class C All-State honors as well, while also losing Dusty Weiss, who was a Second Team selection within the district. The Bears had another player named Second Team in the 9C and that was point guard Tanner Parisian, who will be one of the only returning starters from last season. Parisian will be a key player for the Bears this season, but other top contributors will include Seth Duran, Chris Burns, Kaden Duran and Payton Gardipee, as well as a number of other young players that Myers said are still developing. “You know when you have a program that has had the success like we had under coach MacDonald, you get that target on your back,” Myers said. “We know that teams want to try and beat us. But we know that, and we are working hard to beat the odds because a lot of people don’t think we are as strong.” Of course, the Bears will face plenty of challenges in the 9C this season, mainly from Chinook, which returns almost its entire roster from a divisional run a season ago. HaysLodge Pole will be looking to retool like the Bears, but others such as North Star, Fort Benton, Big Sandy, Turner and Chester-Joplin-Inverness, are also gunning for a top spot in the league. But as of now, the Bears aren’t worried about that. They are focused on improving, getting better and playing their best basketball when it matters most.

“I tell my guys all the time, that it’s a marathon, not a sprint,” Myers said. “Obviously, we want to win the district and do all those things, but those are long-term goals. And before we even starting thinking about that, we have a lot of short-term goals that we need to take care of first.” Box Elder will attempt to win a sixth straight district title when the 9C tournament comes to Havre starting Feb. 14. The Northern C Divisional will be back in Great Falls and will start Feb. 21, followed by the Class C state tournament which will be held in Butte March 1-3.

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson Tanner Parisian is one of the few veterans the five-time defending 9C champion Box Elder Bears will have in LaVon Myers first season as head coach.


14

2017-2018

December 2017

WINTER SPORTS

2017-2018

www.havredailynews.com

www.havredailynews.com

WINTER SPORTS

December 2017

HLP girls look to T-Birds must reload Loaded Beeters Chinook girls will show improvement after a magical run ready to top the 9C be right in the mix George Ferguson Havre Daily News sports editor gferguson@havredailynews.com

Over the past few seasons, the Hays-Lodge Pole girls basketball team has been steadily improving and now that the 2017-18 season is just around the corner for the Thunderbirds, they will get the chance to improve even more. After notching just a few wins in the previous seasons combined, the T-Birds actually had a bit of a breakthrough last year, winning five games overall and four in the District 9C during the regular season. The T-Birds did tie for sixth in the final district standings, but they also notched some big victories, such as their upset win at Chinook last December. The Sugarbeeters have always had a solid program, but HLP, thanks to a spectacular night from Rayleigh Kirkaldie, was able to pull the upset. Of course, that early-season confidence boost didn’t translate to a lot of wins down the road, but the T-Birds still had to be encouraged by their finish and a solid performance at the District 9C Tournament last spring. The most encouraging thing for the T-Birds, who were very young last season, is the return of Kirkaldie, who earned Second-Team AllConference honors in the 9C last season. She will be joined on the roster by Miquela Perez, as well as a slew of other players who will be returning to the program this season. While the T-Birds have been steadily improving in girls basketball, getting the team to reach the next level, which would mean advancing past the 9C tournament, still feels like a ways away. Part of the reason for that is simply the difficulty of the district and the Northern C Division. The Box Elder Bears have built a dominant team under head coach Joel Rosette. The Bears haven’t lost a 9C game in two

years. They are also the two-time defending district champs and have made three straight trips to divisionals. Unfortunately for teams like HLP, Chester-Joplin-Inverness, Turner, Big Sandy and Chinook, getting out of the district is going to be really difficult. With Box Elder, Fort Benton and North Star all looking strong, surpassing one of those teams may be difficult, especially with Chinook also in the mix. The T-Birds will also compete with Big Sandy, Turner and CJI to try and get into the top half of the 9C this season. The 9C tournament begins in Havre Feb. 14, followed by the Northern C Divisional, which will be in Great Falls, starting Feb. 21. The Class C state tournament will be in Butte March 8-10.

George Ferguson Havre Daily News sports editor gferguson@havredailynews.com

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson David Main is one of only a handful of players returning for the Hays-Lodge Pole boys this season, after the T-Birds won the Northern C and placed fourth at state a year ago.

Chris Peterson Havre Daily News sports writer gferguson@havredailynews.com

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson The Hays-Lodge Pole girls basketball team will once again be an underdog in the loaded District 9C.

The 2016-17 season was a dream come true for the Hays-Lodge Pole boys basketball program. The Thunderbirds won the Northern C Divisional championship and played on Saturday night at the state tournament for the first time in a decade. The T-Birds wound up fourth at the Class C state tournament, following a loss in the semifinals to eventual state champ Arlee, but by any measure, it was a historic run. Unfortunately, now comes the process of rebuilding. And while HLP is without some key players from last year’s team, it still has one thing going for it, head coach Derrick Shambo. Shambo, the father of Tyson Shambo, who earned All-State honors for the T-Birds last season, will be back on the bench. Yet, not only will he be without his son Tyson, but other key players such as All-State performer Frank Runs Above and First Team AllConference selection Jace Shambo are also gone due to graduation. “This year we are definitely going to have to do some rebuilding,” Shambo said. “We lost a lot of talent from last season’s team. We still have some good players, but they are young. We are missing some other guys because of injury, so we might have some growing pains early, but I think by the end of the season, we will be right there.” Of course, to get the T-Birds in a position to challenge at the District 9C Tournament in February, coach Shambo and his squad have a lot of work to do. However, one thing

that will help is the return of three players who saw varsity action a season ago in Chance Main, David Main and Michael Ball. Shambo also indicated that others such as Mo Cliff, Jeffrey Stiffarm and Tony Sears will see the floor plenty. “Right now, Chance Main is hurt and might not be back until January,” Shambo said. “So that’s a big loss for us. That will hurt. So David Main and Michael Ball are the only guys I have back with varsity experience. But some of our juniors, they will get a lot of playing time and will probably step into starting roles for me.” While the T-Birds aren’t alone in their loss of talent, they have probably lost as much or more than any other team in the district. Box Elder is right with them, losing two All-State players and another that earned All-Conference honors. However, the T-Birds, along with CJI, are the only teams in the district to not have at least one AllConference player back from last season, which means if HLP wants to get back to divisionals, it has a lot of work to do in the coming months. “It’s going to be tough,” Shambo said. “The district should be very competitive again. I think Chinook is going to be the favorite. They have a lot of talent, a lot of size and a lot of athleticism. Box Elder should still be solid. North Star is another team that should be in the mix, along with Fort Benton, but for the most part, it seems pretty competitive across the board.” The 9C tournament begins in Havre Feb. 14, followed by the Northern C Divisional, which will be in Great Falls, starting Feb. 21. The Class C state tournament will be in Butte March 1-3.

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson Cord Schneider, middle, and the Chinook boys are considered the top contender for the 2018 District 9C championship.

Chris Peterson Havre Daily News sports writer gferguson@havredailynews.com Under the direction of head coach Mike Seymour, the Chinook boys basketball program has inched closer and closer to making the Class C state tournament. But now, with quite possibly the most talented team he has ever had, the Sugarbeeters hopes of joining the elite teams at state seems better than ever. After all, the Beeters were just two wins short last season and with almost the entire team back in the fold, expectations are high. “I think we kind of always have a target on our back,” Seymour said. “I don’t know if it’s because the size of our school, because we are one of the bigger Class C schools, but we always seem to get everybody's best game. I think in our district, there is still a target on Box Elder. They have the great tradition, they have won five in a row and they are the team we are all gunning for right now.” While Box Elder has won five consecutive District 9C championships, the Bears and Hays-Lodge Pole, which won the Northern C Divisional title last season, are both dealing with heavy losses to graduation. Chinook, on the other hand, lost just one key player from last season’s team in big man Wade Schneider. Beyond that, the Beeters return just about everybody, including All-State junior Cord Schneider and First-Team All-Conference selection Isaac Bell, who is also a junior. Yet, those aren’t the only experienced play-

ers back as Trajan Hannum, Brendan Edwards, James Christensen, Riley Kellam and Hunter Neibauer are all back in the fold. “These kids have been around for a while,” Seymour said. “And they are maturing now. They are bigger, faster and stronger.” Chinook may have experience, but it also has a tremendous amount of height and athleticism for a Class C team. Schneider and Bell are both over 6’3”, as is Edwards, and Neibauer, who is a now a sophomore, is 6’1”, giving Chinook a team full of big, fast guys that most Class C squads can only dream of. “We do have a lot of size,” Seymour said. “But what I really like is our depth. I can sub in and at the Class C level, often times when people sub they lose a little something, the level of play goes down. But I have the luxury of subbing in our players and our level of play could be the same or even go up.” Of course, getting out of the District 9C isn’t easy, not with teams like Box Elder, HLP, North Star, Fort Benton, Turner, Big Sandy and Chester-Joplin-Inverness to contend with. But after the Beeters run at the Northern C, where they knocked off DentonGeyser-Stanford and Sunburst to reach the semifinals, the team appears poised ready for bigger and better things in 2017-18. “I think those extra games we were able to get last season were vital,” Seymour said. “Getting that tournament experience at that age is huge. All of them did seem to grow as the season went along. They seemed to grow and get better and that’s something we have talked about this year. Every day, we want to get better. Every day, we want to grow.”

The Chinook Sugarbeeters have been one of the most dominant teams in all of 9C girls basketball over the last decade. And there’s no reason why they can’t be again this season. However, as the Beeters start a brand new season, they will have a new name, but a familiar one, as their head coach. Longtime Chinook basketball assistant Lesa Macleod is now in charge of the Beeters, taking over for Mollie Rose. In her time at Chinook, Macloed has served as an assitant coach to Chris Daniel, the late Charlie Robinson and to Rose. Now however, she will lead the Beeters, while Jordan Miller and Matt Molyneaux will be her assistants. “I am looking forward to a competitive season for our Sugarbeeters,” Macleod said. “The sophomore and freshman classes have added some talented players to the program which has allowed us to have higher level practices.” Of course, Macleod also inherits a squad with tons of talent, led by five outstanding seniors. Erin Pula, Sierra Swank, Carrie Hofer, Hailey McMaster and Jaye Anderson are all back to give the Beeters veteran leadership. But the depth doesn’t end there either, as five juniors in Kourtney Hanson, Megan Molyneaux, Ashley Macleod, Rachel Gunderson and Lincy Johnson only add to Chinook’s deep and talented squad. And depth, along with height, is what should help keep Chinook right in the mix for yet another district championship, something the Beeters would like to get back to doing this season. However, with Box Elder and Fort Benton returning very strong teams as well, Macleod knows this season will be a good one in the 9C. “Last season the team did not advance out of the district tournament, obviously this season we hope to be more competitive in the district and move on in the post season,” Macleod said.  “As always, the 9C is going to be tough this year. I look for Box Elder to be a front-runner, and believe Fort Benton and North Star will also put together good sea-

3

sons. I do not want to discount teams like CJI, Turner and Hays as they have put in a lot of time over the summer improving their game. We are going to have to come prepared each and every night.” Chinook will try to get past the 9C this year when it returns to the Havre High gymnasium Feb. 14-18.

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson Sierra Swank and the Chinook girls basketball team just missed out on a Northern C berth last season. But the Sugarbeeters will be right back in the hunt this year, and they'll do it with a new head coach in Lesa Macleod. Macleod has been a longtime assistant coach in the girls program at Chinook and now she takes over for Mollie Rose.


4

2017-2018

December 2017

WINTER SPORTS

2017-2018

www.havredailynews.com

Rocky Boy will be a force once again Chris Peterson Havre Daily News sports writer gferguson@havredailynews.com For the Rocky Boy boys basketball team, the 2016-17 season was one that left the Stars feeling a little empty. After a solid regular season, Rocky Boy won the District 1B and looked poised to make it to the Class B state tournament for the second time in three years. But a blowout loss in the divisional semifinals to Shelby, followed by a two-point defeat at the hands of Choteau ended the Stars’ hopes. But with some key players returning, head coach Adam Demontiney has high hopes for 2017-18. “Things have been going good,” Demontiney said. “The boys are working really hard and they are really excited to get the season going.” One thing that certainly lends some excitement to the season for Rocky Boy is the return of junior Kendall Windy Boy, who was AllConference in each of the past two seasons. The big man has averaged a double-double in each of the past two seasons and with him in the middle, the Stars will be a force to be reckoned with in the Northern B Division. Making the Stars an even more viable contender is the return of Kordell Small and Ben Iron Eyes. “Ben has been doing really good in practice,” Demontiney said. “He’s one of our seniors and he has been doing a great job. He gets everybody going and working hard in practice.” Beyond the three returning starters from last season, the Stars have others coming

back with experience such as Frankie Bacon and Olin Arkinson. Others who should see time playing time this season are Kade Galbavy, Blake Cantrell, Jamison Standing Rock, Mackaveli Sutherland and Cedric Belcourt. Rocky Boy will certainly be among the most talented teams in the 1B, but with the depth of the Northern B as a whole, nothing is guaranteed. Last season, Malta finished third at the divisional tournament, before eventually going on to win state. Shelby also finished third and is loaded again this season, especially with the return of T.J. Reynolds. “Yeah, it’s always a dog fight night in and night out,” Demontiney said. “Anybody can knock off anybody on any given night. There is a lot of great coaches, we did have a couple coaching changes in Conrad and Fairfield, but I am sure they will have their boys ready to go. Shelby is going to be tough. Choteau will be ready to go, Malta too, even though they lost some guys. Like I said, it’s going to be a dog fight.” Rocky Boy will play many of the same teams it did a season ago, except for one glaring exception — Box Elder. The Stars and Bears will not play their annual season-opening game. Both teams opened the year at the Native American Classic hosted by Salish Kootenai College, but for the first time in years, they didn’t play each other. “It’s always a fun game,” Demontiney said. “So it’s too bad that we won’t get to play Box Elder this season. The kids really get up for that game, but we will have it back next year when the Native American Classic is up north again.”

www.havredailynews.com

WINTER SPORTS

Morning Stars aim for state George Ferguson

Havre Daily News sports editor gferguson@havredailynews.com The Rocky Boy Morning Stars came ever so close to achieving an ultimate goal last season — making it to the Class B state tournament. Rocky Boy may have had a modest 14-12 overall record, but, they came within one win of making it to state, something the program has never done in its time in Class B. Now, the Morning Stars return to the hardwood to try to finish that goal, with Cameron McCormick again at the helm. “Our record last year disguised a team which nearly advanced to the State B Tournament for the first time in history,” McCormick said. Of course, the Morning Stars are always fighting an uphill battle, as they play in the toughest district in Class B, the 1B, which includes the Fairfield Eagles, a legendary program. They also play in the brutal Northern B, which includes the great Malta MEttes. And yet, Rocky Boy will be a team to be reckoned with

this season. Seniors Adrienne Gopher, Sean Henry (Second Team All-Conference), and Jaylynn Mitchell (First Team All-Conference) all return, and combined, bring with them more than 30 points per game last season. Juniors Rochelle Pease and Kristie Parker, sophomores Sasha Coffee, Tessa Big Knife and Jaynah Gopher are also all back from last year’s team, and all give Rocky Boy plenty of talent and firepower to work with. McCormick also expects freshmen Naomi Day Child and Kirsten LaMere to see varsity action this season. So, there’s no question Rocky Boy has the talent to make a serious run at the state tourney again this season. But, as always, the 1B and Northern B will be daunting. “This year's squad looks to quite simply make it to state,” McCormick said. “The District 1B could very well possibly be one of the most competitive conferences in high school girls basketball, with the likes of Dustin Gordon's Fairfield Lady Eagles, a feisty Shelby team, a tough Choteau squad, a fiery Cut Bank team,

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson Adrienne Gopher and the Rocky Boy girls were one win away from reaching the Class B state tournament a year ago. Rocky Boy hopes to get there this season. and not-to-be-counted out Conrad who happens to host the 2018 District 1B Tournament.” Rocky Boy began the season at the Native American Classic in Pablo.

13

Big Sandy will keep fighting Pioneers hope to be a team on the rise Chris Peterson Havre Daily News sports writer gferguson@havredailynews.com

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson Jaylyn Cline, right, and the Big Sandy Pioneers have a lot of returning experience this season, as well as a new head coach.

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson Kordell Small and the Rocky Boy Stars won the District 1B title a year ago. But they fell short at the Northern B Divisional. Now, Rocky Boy is returning with the goal of getting back to the Class B state tournament this winter.

December 2017

Chris Peterson Havre Daily News sports writer gferguson@havredailynews.com The Big Sandy girls basketball team is a long way from the glory days that existed under long-time head coach Roy Lackner. At one time, the Pioneers were just about a yearly participant in the Northern C Divisional and the Class C state tournament. However, in recent years the Pioneers have struggled to find the win column. Yet, with a new coach and a new season on the horizon, Big Sandy once again has a reason to be optimistic about the girls basketball program. The 2016-17 season was a tough one for the Pioneers who failed to find the win column in the District 9C. They finished the district schedule with a mark of 0-12, but had an overall record of 1-19 at the end of the season. Sometimes, a change in leadership can be good for the program and with D.J. Camp taking over for Ronnie Simpson, the Pioneers have undergone a change at the helm. Camp will oversee a team that has 16 girls out to play basketball, including four seniors and three juniors. The seniors who will be on the floor for Big Sandy this season are Andrea Rutledge, Jenna Leader, Cally Demontiney and Sophie Reichelt. The juniors who should also see plenty of playing time are Jaylyn Cline and Grace Finkie. The rest of the Pioneers roster

includes five sophomores, Lainey Gregory, Cassidy Belcourt, Amanda Cline, Seanna Demontiney and Madison Terry, as well as four freshmen Abby Syverson, Kassidy Pursley and Alicia Bjornsted. “This is going to be a year of rebuilding and fundamentals,” Big Sandy assistant coach Cheryl Strutz said. After going winless in district play last season, getting a victory within the 9C will be one of the Pioneers’ top priorities. However, that is easier said than done. Box Elder comes back after winning a second consecutive district championship last season. The Bears have an All-State player in Lily Gopher and an AllConference sophomore in Joelnell Momberg. But in addition to the Bears, Fort Benton looks strong in the 9C and with All-State guard Leah Gannon back in the fold, the Longhorns will be dangerous. North Star is another team that should be strong next season, with Paij Peterson back in the mix and head coach Rob Spicher back on the sidelines for another season. After that, the Pioneers will find themselves fighting with other teams such as Turner, Chinook, Chester-Joplin-Inverness and Hays-Lodge Pole for position in the standings. The 9C tournament begins in Havre Feb. 14, followed by the Northern C Divisional, which will be in Great Falls, starting Feb. 21. The Class C state tournament will be in Butte March 8-10.

The Big Sandy boys basketball program used to be one of the strongest in all of Montana Class C basketball. As recently as 2010, Big Sandy was a state champion. The Pioneers also finished as the Class C runner-up back in 2008. However, since that great run, the Pioneers have fallen on hard times. It’s been years since they have advanced past the District 9C tournament, but under new head coach Thomas Dilworth, Big Sandy is hoping for a basketball revival. “I played basketball in high school and have some experience coaching,” Dilworth said. “I was coaching fifth- and sixth-grade basketball in Fort Benton and this came up, so I thought I would throw my hat in the ring. I really just enjoy the game of basketball and I enjoy working the kids and trying to help improve their lives.” Last season, the Pioneers finished ith just a 3-11 mark in the 9C, as well as an overall record of 3-15. Big Sandy was sixth in the final standings in the 9C, but lost twice in the district tournament to finish with a final record of 3-17. Yet, Dilworth likes the talent that he has on his squad, he said simply, it will take some time to develop. “I knew when I took the job, it was going to take a little time,” Dilworth said. “The kids have to get used to a new coach and a new program. So that will be an adjustment. But I think once we get through that, we have a chance to be a solid team at the end of the season. Our goal is to get out of the district tournament and get to divisionals. That’s what we are shooting for, and I think by the end of the season we will be right there in that mix. I think we can finish around the top four or five teams in the regular season and then have a chance to knock off some of the top teams at the end.” One positive for the Pioneers last season, was the play of now senior Bryant Jones, who led Big Sandy in scoring on his way to earning Second-Team All-Conference honors in

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson Bryant Jones, left, and the Big Sandy Pioneers are under the direction of a new head coach this season. the 9C. Jones will be the top offensive option for Big Sandy this season but will be joined by a bevy of young, talented players such as Parker and Blake Prouix, Ryan Roth, Kade Strutz and Clint Darlington. “We are going to be starting mostly freshmen and sophomores,” Dilworth said. “But I think that we have some guys that are going to exceptional players. We have a lot of the same athletes that did well in football, we just need to come together and grow as a team. But I think by the end of the season, we will be right there with a chance to be among those top three teams in the district.” Box Elder, as the five-time district champion, is going to be a team to watch out for, as will Chinook, which fell two games shy of qualifying for the state tournament last season. Hays-Lodge Pole, North Star and Fort Benton are other teams that should find their way into contention, although Turner and Chester-Joplin-Inverness can’t be counted out. Big Sandy opened its season at the CJI Tournament.


12

2017-2018

December 2017

WINTER SPORTS

2017-2018

www.havredailynews.com

Longhorns building Fort Benton girls have

WINTER SPORTS

George Ferguson Havre Daily News sports editor gferguson@havredailynews.com

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson Garrett Diekhans, left, and the Fort Benton boys could be one of the most improved teams in the District 9C this season.

In just three years in the District 9C, the Fort Benton girls basketball team has played for two 9C titles and won one. So, the fact that Fort Benton is now a true 9C power shouldn’t surprise anyone anymore. And to start the new season, many consider the Longhorns as the team to challenge Box Elder for this year’s 9C championship, after the two teams met for the 9C title a year ago. Box Elder won that game, but a week later, Fort Benton got revenge when the Horns ousted Box Elder from the Northern C Divisional. And while veteran Fort Benton head coach Cassie Pimperton has some outstanding talent returning, she also has to replace some star power in All-State selection Coya Nack and point guard Kaitlyn Bird. Still, Pimperton has the team to make yet another run at the 9C championship. “Our goal is to be a competitive team night in and night out and be playing our best bas-

ketball at tournament time,” she noted. No doubt the Longhorns will be competitive. They return All-State performer Leah Gannon, as well as senior leader Maddie Thompson. Those two combined to score more than 20 points per game a year ago. Alia Evans is also back for the Longhorns, as is talented sisters McKenzie and Megan Clark. Fort Benton also has a host of younger players who will rise to the varsity level this season, and that should help them continue to be a 9C power. “I'm thinking this year the 9C will be as competitive as it's been since we've joined the district,” Pimperton said. “A lot of teams have returning experience.” Indeed. Box Elder, North Star and Chinook are all stalwarts, and Turner continues to be a wildcard in the mix. But with what the Longhorns have achieved in just three short years and with the talent they have, they may be the ones everybody else in the 9C is worried about come tournament time. Fort Benton and the rest of the 9C will meet up in Havre Feb. 14-18 for the annual 9C Tournament.

no fear. It was pretty amazing to see him as an eighth-grader playing against juniors and seniors and seeing that he had no fear about what would happen in the game.” With increased moral by a near-playoff berth in football this past season, Pasha and the Longhorns have an extra boost of confidence, one they will hope will propel them to bigger, better things on the basketball court as well. “I think the success of football was huge, not just to keep them active in the fall but to get some toughness in those kids, you can’t just teach through basketball,” Pasha said. “The wins that we got in football, at least gave the kids a taste of success early and so, hopefully, that leads into the basketball season.” The 9C tournament begins in Havre Feb. 14, followed by the Northern C Divisional, which will be in Great Falls, starting Feb. 21. The Class C state tournament will be in Butte March 1-3. Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson Leah Gannon and the Fort Benton girls will again be one of the top teams in the District 9C this season. The Longhorns finished second in the 9C last year, and made it to the Northern C consolation game.

December 2017

5

Hawks staying the course CJI girls return the talent George Ferguson Havre Daily News sports editor gferguson@havredailynews.com

unfinished business

Chris Peterson Havre Daily News sports writer gferguson@havredailynews.com Under head coach Tyler Pasha, the Fort Benton Longhorns have taken gradual steps forward after joining the District 9C two season ago. But now, after a solid football season, Pasha and the Longhorns are convinced they can rise to be a top team within the district. “I know that I keep saying this year after year, but we are going to be a young team again,” Pasha said. “But a lot of our young guys got a lot of playing time. And with the juniors and seniors, they have been in the system now and understand it a lot better. So I feel like this season, we are going to step forward in our district and hopefully into divisionals.” While the Longhorns will be young again, they do return one of the most electrifying players in the 9C in Garrett Diekhans, who was named Second Team All-Conference last season as a freshman. Diekhans is the only Fort Benton player who earned postseason honors a season ago, but unlike some of the other top teams in the district, the Longhorns are bringing back just about everybody. “It is going to be tighter than it has been in the past,” Pasha said. “Hays-Lodge Pole and Box Elder got first and second and they were kind of head and shoulders above everybody else. And they are still going to be good, like they have been every year. But I feel like we have a team, that is coming along and coming together, and as long as we avoid the injury bug, I think we can compete and be in one of those top three positions. I think it has tightened up, so that Friday night game at the district tournament, is going to determine a lot. So if we can at least put ourselves in a position to be in that game, who knows what could happen. That’s how tight it could be among the top teams.” In addition to having Diekhans back in the fold, Pasha also has some veteran experience returning in the way of Andy Giles, a senior, who has been playing varsity minutes since he was a freshman. Another who will contribute this season for Fort Benton is Hayden Diekhans, a freshman, who saw significant minutes as an eighth-grader a season ago. “We have Garrett (Diekhans) inside and he’s going to be a key player for us,” Pasha said. “But we have shooters that are all around him. Andy will be another leader for us and then Hayden (Diekhans), who played a lot last year, will be another one. He is a kid that has

www.havredailynews.com

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson Graduation has hit the Chester-Joplin-Inverness boys basketball program hard the last two years. But even with a young team, CJI should be much tougher this winter.

Chris Peterson Havre Daily News sports writer gferguson@havredailynews.com Just two short years ago, the Chester-Joplin-Inverness boys basketball team was one of the most talented teams in Class C. But last season was a year of rebuilding for the Hawks, who are now looking to regain their form from previous seasons. Following the Hawk’s run to the Northern C Divisional in 2016, former head coach Spencer Sartori left the program to take an assistant coaching job at Montana State University-Northern. That led to the hiring of T.J. Murphy, who coached the Hawks to a 2-16 regular season record last season, as well as a 2-12 mark within the District 9C. Yet, in his second season at the helm of CJI basketball Murphy is ready to lead the Hawks back into contention in the 9C, which is entirely possible in a district that seems more wide open than ever. “We have great numbers out for basketball this year, totaling 17,” Murphy said. “Although we have a lot of boys out, we are still a relatively young team with only two seniors. We are going to rely heavily on our juniors and sophomores, as they saw quite a bit of playing time last year as underclassmen.” The biggest loss suffered by CJI entering the 2017-18 season, is the loss of First-Team All-Conference performer Cory Richter. Richter, who also earned Class C All-State honors, was the top scorer for CJI a season ago and had numerous games with 20 points or more. He is gone, but his younger broth-

er, sophomore Spencer Richter, returns and should be among the Hawks’ most important players this season. Some other key contributors who should see action on the hardwood for CJI this season are Evan Dahinden, Tyler Wanken and Andrew Woods. “This off-season the boys spent a ton of time in the weight room and in the gym getting stronger and improving their overall athleticism,” Murphy said. “Our district is looking to be very talented this year but i think we'll be able to hold our own. I'm optimistic about our season, and we have a great group of boys out for the team.” The strength of the 9C was one of the biggest factors in the Hawks’ struggles a year ago, but with teams like Box Elder and HaysLodge Pole, both in the middle of rebuilding, teams like CJI have a shot at resurgence. Chinook will be the favorite to win the district, as it returns an All-State player in Cord Schneider, a First Team All-Conference performer in Isaac Bell and also returns head coach Mike Seymour for a seventh season. Yet, outside the Beeters, the other top spots in the district appear ready for the taking. But teams like CJI must act quickly because traditional powers such as Box Elder and HLP won’t be down long. Other programs, such as North Star, Fort Benton, Turner and Big Sandy, also seem to be on the rise, setting the stage for another exciting race in the challenging 9C. The 9C tournament begins in Havre Feb. 14, followed by the Northern C Divisional, which will be in Great Falls, starting Feb. 21. The Class C state tournament will be in Butte March 1-3.

For a long time, the Chester-Joplin-Inverness girls basketball team was a dominant program in the old District 10C. In fact, the Hawks were so dominant that they rarely missed a trip to the Northern C Divisional. However, three years ago, CJI moved to what is now home, the District 9C. And, their proud program has only served to make the 9C what it is, the toughest district in all of Class C girls basketball. Entering the 2017-18 season, the Hawks will be under the direction of new head coach Kristie Pulst, and she inherits a squad that will work hard to be a part of what is indeed the toughest district in Class C. A year ago, the Hawks were a young team, with only one senior, and they struggled to keep pace with the likes of Box Elder, North Star, Chinook and Fort Benton. And while

those teams will certainly be the ones the Hawks are chasing again this winter, they might be much better equipped to stay in the race, especially after the Hawks came within one point of reaching the 9C consolation game last February. CJI returns senior leaders Kendahl Knapton and Korrin Harmon, while junior Khloe Kamerzell is also back. That trio has a wealth of talent, but also experience, and gives CJI a solid foundation to work with. Kayona Fraser, Peyton Hawks and Jasmine Cole all saw extensive time on the court a season ago, so CJI has some depth to work with as well. Of course, battling the top teams in the 9C won’t be easy, but with all of CJI’s returning talent, the Hawks are certainly a team that can’t be overlooked this season, in the 9C and beyond. The District 9C tournament will be held Feb. 14-18 at the Havre High gymnasium.

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson Peyton Hawks is part of a key group of talented returning players for the Chester-JoplinInverness Hawks. CJI has a new head coach this season, and the Hawks are looking to be a force once again in the 9C.


6

2017-2018

December 2017

WINTER SPORTS

2017-2018

www.havredailynews.com

Turner girls continue Tornadoes poised for a to climb the 9C ranks breakout season in the 9C Chris Peterson Havre Daily News sports writer gferguson@havredailynews.com

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson Raegan Conlan and the Turner girls will once again be a team to be dealt with in the District 9C. Turner returns a ton of talent and experience again this season.

George Ferguson Havre Daily News sports editor gferguson@havredailynews.com For the second straight year, the Turner Tornadoes were able to not only post a winning record in girls basketball, but also celebrate a win in the District 9C Tournament last season. Now however, Turner would like to take things even farther. The success in Turner basketball has been building, with the Tornadoes going 11-10 a season ago. And now, third-year head coach Jennifer Baird has a strong foundation built up, and the Tornadoes will once again look to be anything but a pushover in the 9C. “Our goals for this year are to continue with the chemistry we started the last couple years,” Baird said. “I believe Turner has proven that we're a team to be aware of, and we're aiming to build upon that. These girls are hungry for more wins and a chance to get out of the district and go on to the next level.” Turner must replace leading scorer Ella

Billmayer, who played for five seasons for the Tornadoes. However, the cupboard is anything but bare. Juniors Melanie Watkins and Rylee and Raegan Conlan are all entering their third year of fulltime varsity play, while sophomore Sarah Billmayer has been playing since her eighth-grade year. Freshman Shyan Krass also showed amazing potential as an eighth-grader last season, and fellow freshman Brandy Calvert and Alaynee Hawley will give Turner depth. And that’s something that has turned the Turner program around, and now helps them compete with the likes of Chinook, North Star, Fort Benton and Box Elder — depth. Girls basketball has become very popular again in Turner, and Baird says her team should compete with the best in what will be a daunting 9C season. “As always, the 9C is always a very tough district,” Baird said. “It won't be any different this year. All the teams are coming to compete. It's going to be an exciting season.” The district season culminates with the annual 9C girls tournament, Feb. 14-18 at the Havre High gymnasium.

Win or lose, fans of Turner basketball never waver. But last season, the boys basketball team rewarded that faith, getting its first win at the District 9C tournament in years. Now, with much of its team returning, the Tornadoes are hoping to take the next step, and as usual, optimism surrounding the program is one the rise. “Getting that first win at districts,” Turner head coach Zach Holland said. “That was really important for us. That really meant a lot and it was great to finally get past that. But the fans in Turner are so great. Whether we are good or bad, win or lose, they always show up to support our teams.” Yet, if Turner wants to move past just winning a game at the district tournament and improve on its 6-15 record, it will need to take an even bigger step forward during the 201718 season. “These guys have worked really hard,” Holland said. “And we have a really quick and athletic team. We have a lot of experience back from last season and I think this team has a chance to do some really good things this year.” Fortunately, for the Tornadoes, a lot of the important pieces needed are already there. Eddie Harmon, a senior, is coming off a season in which he earned SecondTeam All-Conference honors. Harmon is a scorer and a talented 3-point shooter, but he is always one of the best athletes in the state, which he proved when he won the Class C 800-meter run last spring. But while Harmon should be the go-to guy for Turner this season, he is far from the only experienced player back for the Tornadoes, who also have juniors Cody Welsh and Tracer Heileg, along with sophomore Jack Harmon. “Cody Welsh is someone I think has a good chance to be All-Conference this season,” Holland said. “He has really put in a lot of work in the summer and should be at least Second Team All-Conference. But honestly, I could mention everyone on this team, because they have all put in a lot of work to get better and improve. And I think we are going to be a good team.” However, one thing that will make things difficult for the Tornadoes, is simply the challenging nature of the 9C district. Box Elder is the five-time district champion and is coming off its third berth at the Class C state tournament in the past three seasons. Hays-Lodge Pole is also coming off a fourth-place show-

ing at state, while Chinook was just two wins shy of getting there, too. Yet, those three schools are far from the only ones that will be contending in the 9C, as North Star, Fort Benton, Big Sandy and Chester-Joplin-Inverness, also have their sights set in moving up in the standings this season. “I think the district is going to be really balanced this season,” Holland said. “Chinook looks like the team to beat, but Box Elder is going to be tough again. North Star should also be in the mix. Fort Benton, too. HaysLodge Pole always has talent, too. So it’s going to be tough. But I like our chances.” The Tornadoes opened the season Dec. 1 at a pre-season tournament in Glasgow.

www.havredailynews.com

WINTER SPORTS

11

North Star girls are a 9C threat George Ferguson Havre Daily News sports editor gferguson@havredailynews.com The North Star Knights are seemingly always in the mix when it comes to District 9C girls basketball. But getting back to the Northern C Divisional was a big accomplishment for the Knights and head coach Rob Spicher last season. Despite powerful teams like Box Elder, Fort Benton and Chinook having so much success recently, the Knights re-emerged last season as a force, going 11-3 in the 9C, beating Chinook in the 9C consolation game, and then winning two games at the loaded Northern C Divisional. And now, with so much experience and talent returning, North Star could take things even higher this winter. “We only lost one starter to graduation last year, so we have a very strong core back this year,” Spicher said. That core starts with a strong senior

class, as well as All-Conference junior Paij Peterson. Alongside Peterson, the senior in Lily Pedersen, Katelin Harvey, Peytan King, Chelsea Donaldson, Hali Kapperud and point guard Kate Hansen give North Star perhaps the most veteran team in the 9C. And the Knights will be deep, too, with sophomores Saige O’Neil and Olivia King also playing varsity minutes. “All of these girls played on the varsity floor for last year,” Spicher said. “We are blessed with eight new players to our team this year giving us a total of 17 players competing to earn minutes this year. With this many returning players and so many new players, we will have talent and depth at every position. With this many girls all competing for playing time, we will have many different options on how we line up this year.” And depth, with talent, spells success, and North Star should be highly successful again this season. Of course, it won’t be easy, because many believe the 9C is as tough as it’s ever been on the girls side.

Knights are on the way up Chris Peterson Havre Daily News sports writer gferguson@havredailynews.com

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson Tracer Helig is part of a talented and experienced returning starting lineup for the Turner boys basketball team. And the Tornadoes are hoping to find more success this season due to their experience, and their talent.

December 2017

During the past few seasons, the North Star Knights have been inching closer and closer to reaching the Northern C Divisional Tournament. And last season, they were closer than they have been since 2006. However, when it was all said and done, the Knights failed in their goal of reaching divisionals. Instead, North Star lost to Chinook in the third-place game and for the 11th straight year, the Knight’s season ended at the 9C Tournament. “We are ready to get going,” North Star head coach Waylynn Burgess said. “They are just champing at the bit to get back at it and get that bad taste out of our mouths from last year, with us coming so close.” Like most teams in the 9C, the Knights are dealing with graduation losses. North Star lost First Team All-Conference performer Keevan Borlaug, along with others such as Jimmy Snow and Cade Chvilicek. While dealing with the loss of Borlaug, who was a solid scorer and rebounder for the Knights, won’t be easy, the loss will be easier to overcome because of the return of Devon Miller, a Second Team All-Conference pick in the 9C last season. Devon Miller gives the Knights a solid presence inside, but his brothers Dylan Miller and Dane Miller will also be key parts

of the rotation. Dylan Miller will be one of the top guards on the squad. Dane Miller will be counted on to do just about everything. Caden Rettig, a sophomore, will take over the starting point guard job for Burgess and the Knights. He suffered an injury playing quarterback for the Knights this fall but is healthy now. Other key contributors will be senior Thomas Nerat, sophomores Hayden Masser and Austin Hansen, as well as freshman Payne Ditmar, who Burgess said he expects to get time by the end of the season. North Star is definitely a contender to be a top three team in the 9C, but it won’t be easy. “I think the 9C is wide open this year,” Burgess said. “I know Chinook is the favorite and they should be with all the talent they have coming back. But it’s going to be really competitive. Just about any team is capable of beating you.”

The 9C is always tough no matter what town you are in,” Spicher said. “We all love our basketball on the Hi-Line which keeps our conference competitive each and every year. There are never any easy games in the 9C. We need to come with our best effort every night if we expect to do well. We have a team this year that will do exactly that every night.” Indeed. The Knights certainly look the part of a team that will not only compete, but contend for the 9C crown come February in Havre. “Work hard to improve every day in every position. If we all can reach our potential this year we will have a very successful year,” Spicher said. “I think one of our biggest strengths this year is the experience we gained together as a team last year. These girls know now what it takes to win games, and they are willing to work hard in practice to make that happen. We also have a number of girls that can take on a leadership role on any given night and lead this team.” Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson Above: North Star's Peytan King, left, looks to shoot during the 2017 District 9C tournament in Havre back in February. The Knights took third at the 9C, then went on to win two games at the Northern C Divisional. Now, with a roster full of veteran talent, as well as plenty of depth, the Knights set their sites on competing for the 9C crown this winter. Left: Devon Miller, right, looks for a shot during the 2017 District 9C semifinals last February in Havre. The Knights came within one win of reaching the Northern C last season, and will look to go even further this year.


10

2017-2018

December 2017

WINTER SPORTS

2017-2018

www.havredailynews.com

www.havredailynews.com

WINTER SPORTS

December 2017

7

Harlem girls have Wildcats rebuilding Bears should be LaVon Myers era the talent to compete one of Class C's begins in Box Elder elite teams Chris Peterson Havre Daily News sports writer gferguson@havredailynews.com

George Ferguson Havre Daily News sports editor gferguson@havredailynews.com

The Harlem girls basketball team has found it tough to win games in recent years. But anybody who has to play the likes of Malta, Rocky Boy, Wolf Point and Glasgow every year will have trouble winning games. So for third-year head coach Laramie Schwenke, a former MSU-Northern Skylight, it’s the schedule that presents a challenge, more than it is a lack of talent. In fact, as a new season dawns for Harlem, the talent is sky-high. Schwenke returns a young, but potent lineup, led by sophomore L’Tia Lawrence. Lawrence exploded onto the Class B scene last season, averaging more than 24 points per game and reaching the 30point mark five times as a freshman. But Lawrence has help, too. Fellow sophomore Kailee Henry and juniors Kylee Dirden and Autumn Eagleman are also standouts in their own right, with Dirden also averaging double digits a season ago. And that kind of talent has helped set the bar high in Harlem this season. “Our goals for this season are to finish the season in the top three of the conference and get automatic bid into the divisional tournament,” Schwenke said. “And to win.” Harlem certainly has the pieces in place to do just that, but the 2B is also difficult, especially with Malta dominating the league yearin-and-year out. Add to that Wolf Point and Glasgow, already making it tough, and now, Poplar has had a revival in girls basketball, and every night in the district will be a tough one.

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson Skylee Dirden is one of several talented young players returning to the Harlem girls basketball team. “The district is wide open for anyone's taking,” Schwenke said. “With the favorites being Malta and Poplar.” Harlem will hope to reach the divisonal tournament through districts, which are Feb. 15-17 in Wolf Point. The Northern B Divisional will run March 1-3 in Cut Bank, and the Class B state tournament is set for March 8-10 in Missoula.

The Harlem boys basketball program is one with a strong tradition. But after winning a Class B state championship in 2002, the Wildcats have drifted closer to mediocrity and last season, they drifted even closer to the bottom on the District 2B. If Harlem is ever going to attain a state championship level of basketball again, it’s going to take a lot of hard work and development. But after hiring former Hays-Lodge Pole guard Cole McCabe, who will take over for the retired Harlan Mount, the Wildcats are hoping to take some steps in the right direction. “I was the junior varsity coach last season as we suffered one of Harlem worst seasons record wise, working with these young guards throughout the summer and gaining transfers from Hays gives us some experience, I'm excited to get this season going, they're coming along just fine they seem to be getting used to playing together,” McCabe said. The 2016-17 campaign was a disappointing one for Harlem, which needed to win a playin game just to reach the divisional tournament. After that, Harlem lost twice in a row to lose out of the Northern B Divisional, which should be highly challenging again this season. “I was the junior varsity coach last season as we suffered one of Harlem worst seasons record wise,” McCabe said. “Working with these young guards throughout the summer and gaining transfers from Hays gives us some experience. I'm excited to get this season going, they're coming along just fine. They seem to be getting used to playing together.” The Wildcats don’t have a ton of talent back from last year’s team, but along with some transfers from Hays-Lodge Pole, Harlem will have 10 players on its varsity roster including Ryle Foote, Jeremy Tincher, Zane Fox, Samual Mail, Kyle Young Jr., Lane Allen, Brad Cichosz, Taggert Devaney, Truth Brockie and Kayden Littlesun. Of course, taking that next step will be difficult in the 2B, which not only has defending Class B state champion Malta, but also Glasgow, Poplar and Wolf Point. The 1B is the other district that makes up the Northern B Division and it also features Shelby, Choteau, Cut Bank and Rocky Boy. “I think we have a shot to play in the championship in district 2B,” McCabe said. “Pop-

Chris Peterson Havre Daily News sports writer gferguson@havredailynews.com

When it comes to high school sports, every season is defined by change. Players graduate and new ones are constantly cycling through. Yet, when it comes to the Box Elder Bears, the change they are undergoing this season is far different than most high school teams. That’s because legendary head coach Jeremy MacDonald is no longer leading the program, following his decision to step down at the end of the last season. MacDonald, who helped engineer one of the greatest runs in the history of Montana Class C boys basketball, led the Bears to two state championships in three years from 2014 to 2016, as well as five consecutive championships in the District 9C. However, MacDonald, who is now the superintendent at Box Elder Schools, had a plan in place before departing. He has spent the past few seasons grooming his replacement, LaVon Myers, a former Montana State University-Northern basketball player, who was previously a Box Elder assistant. And while Myers is excited about the chance to

■ See Box Elder Page 15

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson Under new head coach Cole McCabe, the Harlem boys basketball team will start to rebuild its proud program this year, after a difficult 2016-17 season. lar is solid, Malta lost some good guards but they always seem to reload, one of my goals is to not be in that play-in game for the district tournament. That game against Rocky Boy is gonna be tough, and so is Shelby, and they are only taking two out of the north (to the state tournament), but we definitely want to be there in the mix when it comes that time of year. We have a long season to prepare us for tournaments where anything can happen.” Harlem will play in the 2B District tournament, which will open in Wolf Point Feb. 15. The week after that is the Northern B in Glasgow. The Class B state tournament will be held in Missoula, March 8-10.

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson Box Elder's Lilly Gopher, right, is one of the top players in Class C girls basketball. Her Bears are also seeking a District 9C three-peat this winter.

George Ferguson Havre Daily News sports editor gferguson@havredailynews.com The Box Elder boys basketball team is on a five-year streak of winning the District 9C championship. But, the Box Elder girls and longtime head coach Joel Rosette are working on a streak of their own. The Bears enter the 2017-18 season having won two straight 9C titles, and they have enjoyed an incredible amount of success along the way. Two years ago, Box Elder battled its way all the way to the Class C state championship, and last season, the Bears produced an outstanding fourth-place finish at the Northern C. And the Bears show no signs of slowing down. Rosette, who has been at the helm for Box Elder for more than a decade now, returns a ton of firepower as his Bears go after their third straight 9C title. Leading the way is All-State standouts Lilly Gopher and Joelnell Momberg. Gopher, now a junior, was the top scorer in the 9C a season ago, and her potential is seemingly limitless. Momberg burst

onto the scene as a freshman a year ago and will now be one of the top players in the 9C. But the standouts don’t end with that dynamic duo either. Senior Nikayla Anderson, junior Maddie Wolf Chief and senior transfer Cecelia Vielle give the Bears a potent attack. And with the popularity of girls hoops in Box Elder, expect the Bears to have a deep and talented bench as well. But as talented as the Bears are Rosette is sticking to the basics and fundamentals as the new season gets underway. “Our goal is to get our team to be working on high level for each and every game, and to develop as the season progresses,” he said. “No doubt, Box Elder will get better and better as the season goes on. And that could spell doom for 9C contenders like Fort Benton, North Star and Chinook. Rosette said he thinks Fort Benton, which beat the Bears in the Northern C consolation game last March, as well as the Knights, will be the top challengers for Box Elder this season. But make no mistake, when the 9C Tournament comes to Havre Feb. 14-18, the Bears will be the favorite, and they will have a great opportunity to go after a three-peat.

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson For MSU-Northern star LaVon Myers is now the head coach of the Box Elder boys basketball team. Myers takes over for the highly-successful Jeremy McDonald, who led the Bears to five straight 9C titles and two Class C state championships.


8

2017-2018

December 2017

December 15th December 16th December 19th December 22nd January 5th January 6th January 11th January 12th January 19th January 20th January 27th February 2nd February 3rd February 9th February 10th February 13th February 21st-24th March 8th-9th

WINTER SPORTS

vs. Park - Havre ~ 7:30 p.m. vs. Belgrade - Havre ~ 4:30 p.m. vs. Malta - Malta ~ 7:30 p.m. vs. Great Falls High - Havre ~ 7:00 p.m. vs. Fairfield - Fairfield ~ 7:00 p.m. vs. Lewistown - Havre ~ 6:30 p.m. vs. Rocky Boy - Havre ~ 7:00 p.m. vs. Browning - Browning ~ 7:00 p.m. vs. Park - Livingston ~ 7:30 p.m. vs. Belgrade - Belgrade ~ 3:30 p.m. vs. Malta - Havre ~ 5:30 p.m. vs. Fairfield - Fairfield ~ 7:30 p.m. vs. Lewistown - Lewistown ~ 5:00 p.m. vs. Browning - Havre ~ 7:00 p.m. vs. Rocky Boy - Rocky Boy ~ 5:00 p.m. vs. CMR - Great Falls ~ 7:00 p.m. DIVISIONALS - Billings (Metra) STATE - Great Falls

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson Danielle Wallace, left, is one of many talented and veteran returning players for head coach Dustin Kraske's Blue Pony girls basketball team. The Ponies are looking to once again reach the Class A state tournament.

2017-2018

www.havredailynews.com

pony girls have the firepower Havre High girls have all the pieces to continue their Class A success Chris Peterson Havre Daily News sports writer gferguson@havredailynews.com Over the last decade, the Havre High girls basketball team has enjoyed an unprecedented amount of success. The Blue Ponies have made the Class A state tournament 10 times in the last 11 years and have qualified in each of the past six seasons. Havre even won its second Class A state championship back in 2014. However, even though Havre has been among the elite teams in Class A for years, the Ponies aren’t satisfied. In fact, far from it. And with a ton of returning experience back for the 2017-18 season, along with AllState sophomore Kyndall Keller, HHS has its eyes on another state tourney run. “I’m not disappointed that we haven’t won another state championship because it’s so hard to do,” HHS head coach Dustin Kraske said. “You have to get a little luck. Last year, I did think we underachieved a little bit. I thought that was a Saturday-night-at-state team and we didn’t quite make it. I thought we were good enough to be a Saturday-night team at state the last couple of years, it just hasn’t worked out that way. But our goal and our focus, is getting this team to play up to its capability, whatever that is. We want to be the best team that we can be come late February and early March.” While Havre will be without some key pieces from last year’s team that made the state semifinals, such as two-time All-State performer Naomi Terry, Ceyara Plante, Kristen Nash and Rayan VandenBos, with Keller back in the fold, along with seniors Marca Herron, Danielle Wallace, Kaylee Nystrom and Rien Olsen, the Ponies don’t lack for experience. “This is an old team,” Kraske said. “Marca has been playing since she was a freshman, Wallace has been playing since she was a sophomore. Rien played a lot last year and was on the bench for us and played as a sophomore. So we have a lot of kids that have been around. We have some great leadership and this is just a really good group. They all worked really hard and they are all really motivated to get better every single day.” Havre will certainly miss the nearly 17 points a game it got from Terry and the close to 10 points a night it got from Plante. But Keller, who averaged more than 14 points and six rebounds per game, is more than ready to pick up slack. “One thing I want to see her do is be more aggressive going to the basket,” Kraske said. “That’s something she has really been working on. The other thing is that because she

www.havredailynews.com

December 15th December 16th December 19th December 22nd January 5th January 6th January 11th January 12th January 19th January 20th January 26th January 27th February 2nd February 3rd February 9th February 10th February 21st-24th March 1st-3rd

WINTER SPORTS

vs. Park - Havre ~ 6:00 p.m. vs. Belgrade - Havre ~ 3:00 p.m. vs. Malta - Malta ~ 6:00 p.m. vs. Great Falls High - Great Falls ~ 5:00 p.m. vs. Fairfield - Fairfield ~ 5:30 p.m. vs. Lewistown - Havre ~ 5:00 p.m. vs. Rocky Boy - Havre ~ 5:30 p.m. vs. Browning - Havre ~ 7:00 p.m. vs. Park - Livingston ~ 6:00 p.m. vs. Belgrade - Belgrade ~ 2:00 p.m. vs. CMR - Havre ~ 7:00 p.m. vs. Malta - Havre ~ 4:00 p.m. vs. Fairfield - Havre ~ 6:00 p.m. vs. Lewistown - Lewistown ~ 6:30 p.m. vs. Browning - Browning ~ 7:00 p.m. vs. Rocky Boy - Rocky Boy ~ 3:30 p.m. DIVISIONALS - Billings (Metra) STATE - Bozeman

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson Blue Pony senior Marca Herron will play an important role for the Havre High girls this season. The Ponies will be one of the favorites in the Eastern A.

is going to get some extra attention from defenders, I want her to look more at what is the right thing to do with the basketball in that situation.” Beyond Keller, Herron, who is committed to play for the University of Providence in Great Falls next season, is another solid scorer, while Wallace, the team’s leading rebounder, also provides a scoring presence inside. “Wallace can be a beast inside,” Kraske said. “She can be a dominant force inside when she wants to be and I think that she has really worked on that this offseason and trying to be more consistent.” In addition to Keller and the four seniors, Havre should also get contributions from junior Kylie Verploegen, sophomores Kadia Miller and Katie Wirtzberger, along with freshman guard Kylie Walker, who will come off the bench. Havre will compete against Belgrade, Lewistown and Livingston in the Central A, with all four teams automatically making the 10-team field at the Eastern A Divisional Tournament, which starts Feb. 21 in Billings. The Class A state tournament will be in Great Falls March 8-10.

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson Trey Murphy, left, will be a senior leader for the Havre High boys basketball team and head coach Curt Leeds. The Blue Ponies are looking to rebound from a rough 2016-17 season in which they won just three games.

December 2017

9

havre high boys aim to move up Ponies have a good mix of veterans and talented new faces Chris Peterson Havre Daily News sports writer gferguson@havredailynews.com The 2016-17 basketball season was one that the Havre High boys basketball team would rather forget. But for the Blue Ponies a new year means new opportunities. Last season, Havre struggled to a 3-17 record. After losing out at the Eastern A Divisional Tournament, it ended a string of three straight appearances at state for HHS. But even so, according to head coach Curt Leeds, the goals don’t change regardless of what happened last season. “I think (making the state tournament) has to be the expectation every year, hands down,” Leeds said. “If we are going to have a consistent program and we are going to have a good program, we need to have that expectation that we are going to go at the end of the season. Whether the regular season is good or bad, that needs to be the expectation. Because regardless of what happens, our players are going to learn and get better, our coaches are going to learn about our players and we are going to be ready to make a run at divisional time. Last year, we didn’t meet that expectation and that’s on my shoulders. But for me that is the expectation every year.” If the Ponies are going to make a run at divisionals and at a state tournament berth, they will need to play much better than they did a season ago. And while Havre will be without players such as Isaac Warp, Jacob LaBrie and Nate Korb, who graduated from last year’s team, HHS still has some veterans in the fold, with five seniors on the roster. Those five players are Trey Murphy, Ivar Aageson, Jacob Irvin, Laz Windy Boy and Austin Jones, an All-State cross country runner who decided to go out again for basketball. Yet, Havre will also have plenty of youth and some players who will see their first varsity experience. Tanner Parsons, a sophomore, will be back after seeing lots of time last year as a freshman, while juniors Tysen Sangrey, Austin Delarosa and Tommy Brown, who have very little varsity playing time between the three of them, will also see bigger roles. “Last year, we started out as an older team, then because of some injuries had to be a younger team,” Leeds said. “There is always going to be that growing curve, but I have seen a lot of these guys put in a lot of time over the summer and a lot of them have really improved.” The Ponies will need guys like Parsons, Delarosa and Sangrey to grow up quickly because the competition across the Central A and the Eastern A is not going to be easy this

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson Blue Pony sophomore Tanner Parsons returns to the HHS lineup after a strong freshman season at the varsity level. The HHS boys are hoping to once again contend in the Central A, and at the Eastern A Divisional tournament in Billings.

season. Not by any means. “Belgrade is still going to be good,” Leeds said. “They have a lot of size and some good athletes. Lewistown has a lot of kids back, so they are going to be tough, and Livingston is also going to be tough with the Ricketts kid back. So our conference is going to be a battle. We are really going to have to compete every night.” Havre will also have to compete against the Eastern when it comes to divisionals and that won’t be easy either, not with teams like Billings Central, Laurel, Hardin, Miles City, Sidney and Glendive to deal with. “In the Eastern A, pretty much everyone is solid,” Leeds said. “I mean look at Sidney. They had the worst record, but they didn’t lose a single game by more than six points.” Regardless of what happens in the regular season, all 10 teams from the East and Central conferences will take part in the Eastern A Divisional, which will be Feb. 21-24 in Billings. The Class A state tournament will be held in Bozeman, March 1-3.


8

2017-2018

December 2017

December 15th December 16th December 19th December 22nd January 5th January 6th January 11th January 12th January 19th January 20th January 27th February 2nd February 3rd February 9th February 10th February 13th February 21st-24th March 8th-9th

WINTER SPORTS

vs. Park - Havre ~ 7:30 p.m. vs. Belgrade - Havre ~ 4:30 p.m. vs. Malta - Malta ~ 7:30 p.m. vs. Great Falls High - Havre ~ 7:00 p.m. vs. Fairfield - Fairfield ~ 7:00 p.m. vs. Lewistown - Havre ~ 6:30 p.m. vs. Rocky Boy - Havre ~ 7:00 p.m. vs. Browning - Browning ~ 7:00 p.m. vs. Park - Livingston ~ 7:30 p.m. vs. Belgrade - Belgrade ~ 3:30 p.m. vs. Malta - Havre ~ 5:30 p.m. vs. Fairfield - Fairfield ~ 7:30 p.m. vs. Lewistown - Lewistown ~ 5:00 p.m. vs. Browning - Havre ~ 7:00 p.m. vs. Rocky Boy - Rocky Boy ~ 5:00 p.m. vs. CMR - Great Falls ~ 7:00 p.m. DIVISIONALS - Billings (Metra) STATE - Great Falls

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson Danielle Wallace, left, is one of many talented and veteran returning players for head coach Dustin Kraske's Blue Pony girls basketball team. The Ponies are looking to once again reach the Class A state tournament.

2017-2018

www.havredailynews.com

pony girls have the firepower Havre High girls have all the pieces to continue their Class A success Chris Peterson Havre Daily News sports writer gferguson@havredailynews.com Over the last decade, the Havre High girls basketball team has enjoyed an unprecedented amount of success. The Blue Ponies have made the Class A state tournament 10 times in the last 11 years and have qualified in each of the past six seasons. Havre even won its second Class A state championship back in 2014. However, even though Havre has been among the elite teams in Class A for years, the Ponies aren’t satisfied. In fact, far from it. And with a ton of returning experience back for the 2017-18 season, along with AllState sophomore Kyndall Keller, HHS has its eyes on another state tourney run. “I’m not disappointed that we haven’t won another state championship because it’s so hard to do,” HHS head coach Dustin Kraske said. “You have to get a little luck. Last year, I did think we underachieved a little bit. I thought that was a Saturday-night-at-state team and we didn’t quite make it. I thought we were good enough to be a Saturday-night team at state the last couple of years, it just hasn’t worked out that way. But our goal and our focus, is getting this team to play up to its capability, whatever that is. We want to be the best team that we can be come late February and early March.” While Havre will be without some key pieces from last year’s team that made the state semifinals, such as two-time All-State performer Naomi Terry, Ceyara Plante, Kristen Nash and Rayan VandenBos, with Keller back in the fold, along with seniors Marca Herron, Danielle Wallace, Kaylee Nystrom and Rien Olsen, the Ponies don’t lack for experience. “This is an old team,” Kraske said. “Marca has been playing since she was a freshman, Wallace has been playing since she was a sophomore. Rien played a lot last year and was on the bench for us and played as a sophomore. So we have a lot of kids that have been around. We have some great leadership and this is just a really good group. They all worked really hard and they are all really motivated to get better every single day.” Havre will certainly miss the nearly 17 points a game it got from Terry and the close to 10 points a night it got from Plante. But Keller, who averaged more than 14 points and six rebounds per game, is more than ready to pick up slack. “One thing I want to see her do is be more aggressive going to the basket,” Kraske said. “That’s something she has really been working on. The other thing is that because she

www.havredailynews.com

December 15th December 16th December 19th December 22nd January 5th January 6th January 11th January 12th January 19th January 20th January 26th January 27th February 2nd February 3rd February 9th February 10th February 21st-24th March 1st-3rd

WINTER SPORTS

vs. Park - Havre ~ 6:00 p.m. vs. Belgrade - Havre ~ 3:00 p.m. vs. Malta - Malta ~ 6:00 p.m. vs. Great Falls High - Great Falls ~ 5:00 p.m. vs. Fairfield - Fairfield ~ 5:30 p.m. vs. Lewistown - Havre ~ 5:00 p.m. vs. Rocky Boy - Havre ~ 5:30 p.m. vs. Browning - Havre ~ 7:00 p.m. vs. Park - Livingston ~ 6:00 p.m. vs. Belgrade - Belgrade ~ 2:00 p.m. vs. CMR - Havre ~ 7:00 p.m. vs. Malta - Havre ~ 4:00 p.m. vs. Fairfield - Havre ~ 6:00 p.m. vs. Lewistown - Lewistown ~ 6:30 p.m. vs. Browning - Browning ~ 7:00 p.m. vs. Rocky Boy - Rocky Boy ~ 3:30 p.m. DIVISIONALS - Billings (Metra) STATE - Bozeman

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson Blue Pony senior Marca Herron will play an important role for the Havre High girls this season. The Ponies will be one of the favorites in the Eastern A.

is going to get some extra attention from defenders, I want her to look more at what is the right thing to do with the basketball in that situation.” Beyond Keller, Herron, who is committed to play for the University of Providence in Great Falls next season, is another solid scorer, while Wallace, the team’s leading rebounder, also provides a scoring presence inside. “Wallace can be a beast inside,” Kraske said. “She can be a dominant force inside when she wants to be and I think that she has really worked on that this offseason and trying to be more consistent.” In addition to Keller and the four seniors, Havre should also get contributions from junior Kylie Verploegen, sophomores Kadia Miller and Katie Wirtzberger, along with freshman guard Kylie Walker, who will come off the bench. Havre will compete against Belgrade, Lewistown and Livingston in the Central A, with all four teams automatically making the 10-team field at the Eastern A Divisional Tournament, which starts Feb. 21 in Billings. The Class A state tournament will be in Great Falls March 8-10.

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson Trey Murphy, left, will be a senior leader for the Havre High boys basketball team and head coach Curt Leeds. The Blue Ponies are looking to rebound from a rough 2016-17 season in which they won just three games.

December 2017

9

havre high boys aim to move up Ponies have a good mix of veterans and talented new faces Chris Peterson Havre Daily News sports writer gferguson@havredailynews.com The 2016-17 basketball season was one that the Havre High boys basketball team would rather forget. But for the Blue Ponies a new year means new opportunities. Last season, Havre struggled to a 3-17 record. After losing out at the Eastern A Divisional Tournament, it ended a string of three straight appearances at state for HHS. But even so, according to head coach Curt Leeds, the goals don’t change regardless of what happened last season. “I think (making the state tournament) has to be the expectation every year, hands down,” Leeds said. “If we are going to have a consistent program and we are going to have a good program, we need to have that expectation that we are going to go at the end of the season. Whether the regular season is good or bad, that needs to be the expectation. Because regardless of what happens, our players are going to learn and get better, our coaches are going to learn about our players and we are going to be ready to make a run at divisional time. Last year, we didn’t meet that expectation and that’s on my shoulders. But for me that is the expectation every year.” If the Ponies are going to make a run at divisionals and at a state tournament berth, they will need to play much better than they did a season ago. And while Havre will be without players such as Isaac Warp, Jacob LaBrie and Nate Korb, who graduated from last year’s team, HHS still has some veterans in the fold, with five seniors on the roster. Those five players are Trey Murphy, Ivar Aageson, Jacob Irvin, Laz Windy Boy and Austin Jones, an All-State cross country runner who decided to go out again for basketball. Yet, Havre will also have plenty of youth and some players who will see their first varsity experience. Tanner Parsons, a sophomore, will be back after seeing lots of time last year as a freshman, while juniors Tysen Sangrey, Austin Delarosa and Tommy Brown, who have very little varsity playing time between the three of them, will also see bigger roles. “Last year, we started out as an older team, then because of some injuries had to be a younger team,” Leeds said. “There is always going to be that growing curve, but I have seen a lot of these guys put in a lot of time over the summer and a lot of them have really improved.” The Ponies will need guys like Parsons, Delarosa and Sangrey to grow up quickly because the competition across the Central A and the Eastern A is not going to be easy this

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson Blue Pony sophomore Tanner Parsons returns to the HHS lineup after a strong freshman season at the varsity level. The HHS boys are hoping to once again contend in the Central A, and at the Eastern A Divisional tournament in Billings.

season. Not by any means. “Belgrade is still going to be good,” Leeds said. “They have a lot of size and some good athletes. Lewistown has a lot of kids back, so they are going to be tough, and Livingston is also going to be tough with the Ricketts kid back. So our conference is going to be a battle. We are really going to have to compete every night.” Havre will also have to compete against the Eastern when it comes to divisionals and that won’t be easy either, not with teams like Billings Central, Laurel, Hardin, Miles City, Sidney and Glendive to deal with. “In the Eastern A, pretty much everyone is solid,” Leeds said. “I mean look at Sidney. They had the worst record, but they didn’t lose a single game by more than six points.” Regardless of what happens in the regular season, all 10 teams from the East and Central conferences will take part in the Eastern A Divisional, which will be Feb. 21-24 in Billings. The Class A state tournament will be held in Bozeman, March 1-3.


10

2017-2018

December 2017

WINTER SPORTS

2017-2018

www.havredailynews.com

www.havredailynews.com

WINTER SPORTS

December 2017

7

Harlem girls have Wildcats rebuilding Bears should be LaVon Myers era the talent to compete one of Class C's begins in Box Elder elite teams Chris Peterson Havre Daily News sports writer gferguson@havredailynews.com

George Ferguson Havre Daily News sports editor gferguson@havredailynews.com

The Harlem girls basketball team has found it tough to win games in recent years. But anybody who has to play the likes of Malta, Rocky Boy, Wolf Point and Glasgow every year will have trouble winning games. So for third-year head coach Laramie Schwenke, a former MSU-Northern Skylight, it’s the schedule that presents a challenge, more than it is a lack of talent. In fact, as a new season dawns for Harlem, the talent is sky-high. Schwenke returns a young, but potent lineup, led by sophomore L’Tia Lawrence. Lawrence exploded onto the Class B scene last season, averaging more than 24 points per game and reaching the 30point mark five times as a freshman. But Lawrence has help, too. Fellow sophomore Kailee Henry and juniors Kylee Dirden and Autumn Eagleman are also standouts in their own right, with Dirden also averaging double digits a season ago. And that kind of talent has helped set the bar high in Harlem this season. “Our goals for this season are to finish the season in the top three of the conference and get automatic bid into the divisional tournament,” Schwenke said. “And to win.” Harlem certainly has the pieces in place to do just that, but the 2B is also difficult, especially with Malta dominating the league yearin-and-year out. Add to that Wolf Point and Glasgow, already making it tough, and now, Poplar has had a revival in girls basketball, and every night in the district will be a tough one.

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson Skylee Dirden is one of several talented young players returning to the Harlem girls basketball team. “The district is wide open for anyone's taking,” Schwenke said. “With the favorites being Malta and Poplar.” Harlem will hope to reach the divisonal tournament through districts, which are Feb. 15-17 in Wolf Point. The Northern B Divisional will run March 1-3 in Cut Bank, and the Class B state tournament is set for March 8-10 in Missoula.

The Harlem boys basketball program is one with a strong tradition. But after winning a Class B state championship in 2002, the Wildcats have drifted closer to mediocrity and last season, they drifted even closer to the bottom on the District 2B. If Harlem is ever going to attain a state championship level of basketball again, it’s going to take a lot of hard work and development. But after hiring former Hays-Lodge Pole guard Cole McCabe, who will take over for the retired Harlan Mount, the Wildcats are hoping to take some steps in the right direction. “I was the junior varsity coach last season as we suffered one of Harlem worst seasons record wise, working with these young guards throughout the summer and gaining transfers from Hays gives us some experience, I'm excited to get this season going, they're coming along just fine they seem to be getting used to playing together,” McCabe said. The 2016-17 campaign was a disappointing one for Harlem, which needed to win a playin game just to reach the divisional tournament. After that, Harlem lost twice in a row to lose out of the Northern B Divisional, which should be highly challenging again this season. “I was the junior varsity coach last season as we suffered one of Harlem worst seasons record wise,” McCabe said. “Working with these young guards throughout the summer and gaining transfers from Hays gives us some experience. I'm excited to get this season going, they're coming along just fine. They seem to be getting used to playing together.” The Wildcats don’t have a ton of talent back from last year’s team, but along with some transfers from Hays-Lodge Pole, Harlem will have 10 players on its varsity roster including Ryle Foote, Jeremy Tincher, Zane Fox, Samual Mail, Kyle Young Jr., Lane Allen, Brad Cichosz, Taggert Devaney, Truth Brockie and Kayden Littlesun. Of course, taking that next step will be difficult in the 2B, which not only has defending Class B state champion Malta, but also Glasgow, Poplar and Wolf Point. The 1B is the other district that makes up the Northern B Division and it also features Shelby, Choteau, Cut Bank and Rocky Boy. “I think we have a shot to play in the championship in district 2B,” McCabe said. “Pop-

Chris Peterson Havre Daily News sports writer gferguson@havredailynews.com

When it comes to high school sports, every season is defined by change. Players graduate and new ones are constantly cycling through. Yet, when it comes to the Box Elder Bears, the change they are undergoing this season is far different than most high school teams. That’s because legendary head coach Jeremy MacDonald is no longer leading the program, following his decision to step down at the end of the last season. MacDonald, who helped engineer one of the greatest runs in the history of Montana Class C boys basketball, led the Bears to two state championships in three years from 2014 to 2016, as well as five consecutive championships in the District 9C. However, MacDonald, who is now the superintendent at Box Elder Schools, had a plan in place before departing. He has spent the past few seasons grooming his replacement, LaVon Myers, a former Montana State University-Northern basketball player, who was previously a Box Elder assistant. And while Myers is excited about the chance to

■ See Box Elder Page 15

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson Under new head coach Cole McCabe, the Harlem boys basketball team will start to rebuild its proud program this year, after a difficult 2016-17 season. lar is solid, Malta lost some good guards but they always seem to reload, one of my goals is to not be in that play-in game for the district tournament. That game against Rocky Boy is gonna be tough, and so is Shelby, and they are only taking two out of the north (to the state tournament), but we definitely want to be there in the mix when it comes that time of year. We have a long season to prepare us for tournaments where anything can happen.” Harlem will play in the 2B District tournament, which will open in Wolf Point Feb. 15. The week after that is the Northern B in Glasgow. The Class B state tournament will be held in Missoula, March 8-10.

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson Box Elder's Lilly Gopher, right, is one of the top players in Class C girls basketball. Her Bears are also seeking a District 9C three-peat this winter.

George Ferguson Havre Daily News sports editor gferguson@havredailynews.com The Box Elder boys basketball team is on a five-year streak of winning the District 9C championship. But, the Box Elder girls and longtime head coach Joel Rosette are working on a streak of their own. The Bears enter the 2017-18 season having won two straight 9C titles, and they have enjoyed an incredible amount of success along the way. Two years ago, Box Elder battled its way all the way to the Class C state championship, and last season, the Bears produced an outstanding fourth-place finish at the Northern C. And the Bears show no signs of slowing down. Rosette, who has been at the helm for Box Elder for more than a decade now, returns a ton of firepower as his Bears go after their third straight 9C title. Leading the way is All-State standouts Lilly Gopher and Joelnell Momberg. Gopher, now a junior, was the top scorer in the 9C a season ago, and her potential is seemingly limitless. Momberg burst

onto the scene as a freshman a year ago and will now be one of the top players in the 9C. But the standouts don’t end with that dynamic duo either. Senior Nikayla Anderson, junior Maddie Wolf Chief and senior transfer Cecelia Vielle give the Bears a potent attack. And with the popularity of girls hoops in Box Elder, expect the Bears to have a deep and talented bench as well. But as talented as the Bears are Rosette is sticking to the basics and fundamentals as the new season gets underway. “Our goal is to get our team to be working on high level for each and every game, and to develop as the season progresses,” he said. “No doubt, Box Elder will get better and better as the season goes on. And that could spell doom for 9C contenders like Fort Benton, North Star and Chinook. Rosette said he thinks Fort Benton, which beat the Bears in the Northern C consolation game last March, as well as the Knights, will be the top challengers for Box Elder this season. But make no mistake, when the 9C Tournament comes to Havre Feb. 14-18, the Bears will be the favorite, and they will have a great opportunity to go after a three-peat.

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson For MSU-Northern star LaVon Myers is now the head coach of the Box Elder boys basketball team. Myers takes over for the highly-successful Jeremy McDonald, who led the Bears to five straight 9C titles and two Class C state championships.


6

2017-2018

December 2017

WINTER SPORTS

2017-2018

www.havredailynews.com

Turner girls continue Tornadoes poised for a to climb the 9C ranks breakout season in the 9C Chris Peterson Havre Daily News sports writer gferguson@havredailynews.com

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson Raegan Conlan and the Turner girls will once again be a team to be dealt with in the District 9C. Turner returns a ton of talent and experience again this season.

George Ferguson Havre Daily News sports editor gferguson@havredailynews.com For the second straight year, the Turner Tornadoes were able to not only post a winning record in girls basketball, but also celebrate a win in the District 9C Tournament last season. Now however, Turner would like to take things even farther. The success in Turner basketball has been building, with the Tornadoes going 11-10 a season ago. And now, third-year head coach Jennifer Baird has a strong foundation built up, and the Tornadoes will once again look to be anything but a pushover in the 9C. “Our goals for this year are to continue with the chemistry we started the last couple years,” Baird said. “I believe Turner has proven that we're a team to be aware of, and we're aiming to build upon that. These girls are hungry for more wins and a chance to get out of the district and go on to the next level.” Turner must replace leading scorer Ella

Billmayer, who played for five seasons for the Tornadoes. However, the cupboard is anything but bare. Juniors Melanie Watkins and Rylee and Raegan Conlan are all entering their third year of fulltime varsity play, while sophomore Sarah Billmayer has been playing since her eighth-grade year. Freshman Shyan Krass also showed amazing potential as an eighth-grader last season, and fellow freshman Brandy Calvert and Alaynee Hawley will give Turner depth. And that’s something that has turned the Turner program around, and now helps them compete with the likes of Chinook, North Star, Fort Benton and Box Elder — depth. Girls basketball has become very popular again in Turner, and Baird says her team should compete with the best in what will be a daunting 9C season. “As always, the 9C is always a very tough district,” Baird said. “It won't be any different this year. All the teams are coming to compete. It's going to be an exciting season.” The district season culminates with the annual 9C girls tournament, Feb. 14-18 at the Havre High gymnasium.

Win or lose, fans of Turner basketball never waver. But last season, the boys basketball team rewarded that faith, getting its first win at the District 9C tournament in years. Now, with much of its team returning, the Tornadoes are hoping to take the next step, and as usual, optimism surrounding the program is one the rise. “Getting that first win at districts,” Turner head coach Zach Holland said. “That was really important for us. That really meant a lot and it was great to finally get past that. But the fans in Turner are so great. Whether we are good or bad, win or lose, they always show up to support our teams.” Yet, if Turner wants to move past just winning a game at the district tournament and improve on its 6-15 record, it will need to take an even bigger step forward during the 201718 season. “These guys have worked really hard,” Holland said. “And we have a really quick and athletic team. We have a lot of experience back from last season and I think this team has a chance to do some really good things this year.” Fortunately, for the Tornadoes, a lot of the important pieces needed are already there. Eddie Harmon, a senior, is coming off a season in which he earned SecondTeam All-Conference honors. Harmon is a scorer and a talented 3-point shooter, but he is always one of the best athletes in the state, which he proved when he won the Class C 800-meter run last spring. But while Harmon should be the go-to guy for Turner this season, he is far from the only experienced player back for the Tornadoes, who also have juniors Cody Welsh and Tracer Heileg, along with sophomore Jack Harmon. “Cody Welsh is someone I think has a good chance to be All-Conference this season,” Holland said. “He has really put in a lot of work in the summer and should be at least Second Team All-Conference. But honestly, I could mention everyone on this team, because they have all put in a lot of work to get better and improve. And I think we are going to be a good team.” However, one thing that will make things difficult for the Tornadoes, is simply the challenging nature of the 9C district. Box Elder is the five-time district champion and is coming off its third berth at the Class C state tournament in the past three seasons. Hays-Lodge Pole is also coming off a fourth-place show-

ing at state, while Chinook was just two wins shy of getting there, too. Yet, those three schools are far from the only ones that will be contending in the 9C, as North Star, Fort Benton, Big Sandy and Chester-Joplin-Inverness, also have their sights set in moving up in the standings this season. “I think the district is going to be really balanced this season,” Holland said. “Chinook looks like the team to beat, but Box Elder is going to be tough again. North Star should also be in the mix. Fort Benton, too. HaysLodge Pole always has talent, too. So it’s going to be tough. But I like our chances.” The Tornadoes opened the season Dec. 1 at a pre-season tournament in Glasgow.

www.havredailynews.com

WINTER SPORTS

11

North Star girls are a 9C threat George Ferguson Havre Daily News sports editor gferguson@havredailynews.com The North Star Knights are seemingly always in the mix when it comes to District 9C girls basketball. But getting back to the Northern C Divisional was a big accomplishment for the Knights and head coach Rob Spicher last season. Despite powerful teams like Box Elder, Fort Benton and Chinook having so much success recently, the Knights re-emerged last season as a force, going 11-3 in the 9C, beating Chinook in the 9C consolation game, and then winning two games at the loaded Northern C Divisional. And now, with so much experience and talent returning, North Star could take things even higher this winter. “We only lost one starter to graduation last year, so we have a very strong core back this year,” Spicher said. That core starts with a strong senior

class, as well as All-Conference junior Paij Peterson. Alongside Peterson, the senior in Lily Pedersen, Katelin Harvey, Peytan King, Chelsea Donaldson, Hali Kapperud and point guard Kate Hansen give North Star perhaps the most veteran team in the 9C. And the Knights will be deep, too, with sophomores Saige O’Neil and Olivia King also playing varsity minutes. “All of these girls played on the varsity floor for last year,” Spicher said. “We are blessed with eight new players to our team this year giving us a total of 17 players competing to earn minutes this year. With this many returning players and so many new players, we will have talent and depth at every position. With this many girls all competing for playing time, we will have many different options on how we line up this year.” And depth, with talent, spells success, and North Star should be highly successful again this season. Of course, it won’t be easy, because many believe the 9C is as tough as it’s ever been on the girls side.

Knights are on the way up Chris Peterson Havre Daily News sports writer gferguson@havredailynews.com

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson Tracer Helig is part of a talented and experienced returning starting lineup for the Turner boys basketball team. And the Tornadoes are hoping to find more success this season due to their experience, and their talent.

December 2017

During the past few seasons, the North Star Knights have been inching closer and closer to reaching the Northern C Divisional Tournament. And last season, they were closer than they have been since 2006. However, when it was all said and done, the Knights failed in their goal of reaching divisionals. Instead, North Star lost to Chinook in the third-place game and for the 11th straight year, the Knight’s season ended at the 9C Tournament. “We are ready to get going,” North Star head coach Waylynn Burgess said. “They are just champing at the bit to get back at it and get that bad taste out of our mouths from last year, with us coming so close.” Like most teams in the 9C, the Knights are dealing with graduation losses. North Star lost First Team All-Conference performer Keevan Borlaug, along with others such as Jimmy Snow and Cade Chvilicek. While dealing with the loss of Borlaug, who was a solid scorer and rebounder for the Knights, won’t be easy, the loss will be easier to overcome because of the return of Devon Miller, a Second Team All-Conference pick in the 9C last season. Devon Miller gives the Knights a solid presence inside, but his brothers Dylan Miller and Dane Miller will also be key parts

of the rotation. Dylan Miller will be one of the top guards on the squad. Dane Miller will be counted on to do just about everything. Caden Rettig, a sophomore, will take over the starting point guard job for Burgess and the Knights. He suffered an injury playing quarterback for the Knights this fall but is healthy now. Other key contributors will be senior Thomas Nerat, sophomores Hayden Masser and Austin Hansen, as well as freshman Payne Ditmar, who Burgess said he expects to get time by the end of the season. North Star is definitely a contender to be a top three team in the 9C, but it won’t be easy. “I think the 9C is wide open this year,” Burgess said. “I know Chinook is the favorite and they should be with all the talent they have coming back. But it’s going to be really competitive. Just about any team is capable of beating you.”

The 9C is always tough no matter what town you are in,” Spicher said. “We all love our basketball on the Hi-Line which keeps our conference competitive each and every year. There are never any easy games in the 9C. We need to come with our best effort every night if we expect to do well. We have a team this year that will do exactly that every night.” Indeed. The Knights certainly look the part of a team that will not only compete, but contend for the 9C crown come February in Havre. “Work hard to improve every day in every position. If we all can reach our potential this year we will have a very successful year,” Spicher said. “I think one of our biggest strengths this year is the experience we gained together as a team last year. These girls know now what it takes to win games, and they are willing to work hard in practice to make that happen. We also have a number of girls that can take on a leadership role on any given night and lead this team.” Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson Above: North Star's Peytan King, left, looks to shoot during the 2017 District 9C tournament in Havre back in February. The Knights took third at the 9C, then went on to win two games at the Northern C Divisional. Now, with a roster full of veteran talent, as well as plenty of depth, the Knights set their sites on competing for the 9C crown this winter. Left: Devon Miller, right, looks for a shot during the 2017 District 9C semifinals last February in Havre. The Knights came within one win of reaching the Northern C last season, and will look to go even further this year.


12

2017-2018

December 2017

WINTER SPORTS

2017-2018

www.havredailynews.com

Longhorns building Fort Benton girls have

WINTER SPORTS

George Ferguson Havre Daily News sports editor gferguson@havredailynews.com

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson Garrett Diekhans, left, and the Fort Benton boys could be one of the most improved teams in the District 9C this season.

In just three years in the District 9C, the Fort Benton girls basketball team has played for two 9C titles and won one. So, the fact that Fort Benton is now a true 9C power shouldn’t surprise anyone anymore. And to start the new season, many consider the Longhorns as the team to challenge Box Elder for this year’s 9C championship, after the two teams met for the 9C title a year ago. Box Elder won that game, but a week later, Fort Benton got revenge when the Horns ousted Box Elder from the Northern C Divisional. And while veteran Fort Benton head coach Cassie Pimperton has some outstanding talent returning, she also has to replace some star power in All-State selection Coya Nack and point guard Kaitlyn Bird. Still, Pimperton has the team to make yet another run at the 9C championship. “Our goal is to be a competitive team night in and night out and be playing our best bas-

ketball at tournament time,” she noted. No doubt the Longhorns will be competitive. They return All-State performer Leah Gannon, as well as senior leader Maddie Thompson. Those two combined to score more than 20 points per game a year ago. Alia Evans is also back for the Longhorns, as is talented sisters McKenzie and Megan Clark. Fort Benton also has a host of younger players who will rise to the varsity level this season, and that should help them continue to be a 9C power. “I'm thinking this year the 9C will be as competitive as it's been since we've joined the district,” Pimperton said. “A lot of teams have returning experience.” Indeed. Box Elder, North Star and Chinook are all stalwarts, and Turner continues to be a wildcard in the mix. But with what the Longhorns have achieved in just three short years and with the talent they have, they may be the ones everybody else in the 9C is worried about come tournament time. Fort Benton and the rest of the 9C will meet up in Havre Feb. 14-18 for the annual 9C Tournament.

no fear. It was pretty amazing to see him as an eighth-grader playing against juniors and seniors and seeing that he had no fear about what would happen in the game.” With increased moral by a near-playoff berth in football this past season, Pasha and the Longhorns have an extra boost of confidence, one they will hope will propel them to bigger, better things on the basketball court as well. “I think the success of football was huge, not just to keep them active in the fall but to get some toughness in those kids, you can’t just teach through basketball,” Pasha said. “The wins that we got in football, at least gave the kids a taste of success early and so, hopefully, that leads into the basketball season.” The 9C tournament begins in Havre Feb. 14, followed by the Northern C Divisional, which will be in Great Falls, starting Feb. 21. The Class C state tournament will be in Butte March 1-3. Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson Leah Gannon and the Fort Benton girls will again be one of the top teams in the District 9C this season. The Longhorns finished second in the 9C last year, and made it to the Northern C consolation game.

December 2017

5

Hawks staying the course CJI girls return the talent George Ferguson Havre Daily News sports editor gferguson@havredailynews.com

unfinished business

Chris Peterson Havre Daily News sports writer gferguson@havredailynews.com Under head coach Tyler Pasha, the Fort Benton Longhorns have taken gradual steps forward after joining the District 9C two season ago. But now, after a solid football season, Pasha and the Longhorns are convinced they can rise to be a top team within the district. “I know that I keep saying this year after year, but we are going to be a young team again,” Pasha said. “But a lot of our young guys got a lot of playing time. And with the juniors and seniors, they have been in the system now and understand it a lot better. So I feel like this season, we are going to step forward in our district and hopefully into divisionals.” While the Longhorns will be young again, they do return one of the most electrifying players in the 9C in Garrett Diekhans, who was named Second Team All-Conference last season as a freshman. Diekhans is the only Fort Benton player who earned postseason honors a season ago, but unlike some of the other top teams in the district, the Longhorns are bringing back just about everybody. “It is going to be tighter than it has been in the past,” Pasha said. “Hays-Lodge Pole and Box Elder got first and second and they were kind of head and shoulders above everybody else. And they are still going to be good, like they have been every year. But I feel like we have a team, that is coming along and coming together, and as long as we avoid the injury bug, I think we can compete and be in one of those top three positions. I think it has tightened up, so that Friday night game at the district tournament, is going to determine a lot. So if we can at least put ourselves in a position to be in that game, who knows what could happen. That’s how tight it could be among the top teams.” In addition to having Diekhans back in the fold, Pasha also has some veteran experience returning in the way of Andy Giles, a senior, who has been playing varsity minutes since he was a freshman. Another who will contribute this season for Fort Benton is Hayden Diekhans, a freshman, who saw significant minutes as an eighth-grader a season ago. “We have Garrett (Diekhans) inside and he’s going to be a key player for us,” Pasha said. “But we have shooters that are all around him. Andy will be another leader for us and then Hayden (Diekhans), who played a lot last year, will be another one. He is a kid that has

www.havredailynews.com

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson Graduation has hit the Chester-Joplin-Inverness boys basketball program hard the last two years. But even with a young team, CJI should be much tougher this winter.

Chris Peterson Havre Daily News sports writer gferguson@havredailynews.com Just two short years ago, the Chester-Joplin-Inverness boys basketball team was one of the most talented teams in Class C. But last season was a year of rebuilding for the Hawks, who are now looking to regain their form from previous seasons. Following the Hawk’s run to the Northern C Divisional in 2016, former head coach Spencer Sartori left the program to take an assistant coaching job at Montana State University-Northern. That led to the hiring of T.J. Murphy, who coached the Hawks to a 2-16 regular season record last season, as well as a 2-12 mark within the District 9C. Yet, in his second season at the helm of CJI basketball Murphy is ready to lead the Hawks back into contention in the 9C, which is entirely possible in a district that seems more wide open than ever. “We have great numbers out for basketball this year, totaling 17,” Murphy said. “Although we have a lot of boys out, we are still a relatively young team with only two seniors. We are going to rely heavily on our juniors and sophomores, as they saw quite a bit of playing time last year as underclassmen.” The biggest loss suffered by CJI entering the 2017-18 season, is the loss of First-Team All-Conference performer Cory Richter. Richter, who also earned Class C All-State honors, was the top scorer for CJI a season ago and had numerous games with 20 points or more. He is gone, but his younger broth-

er, sophomore Spencer Richter, returns and should be among the Hawks’ most important players this season. Some other key contributors who should see action on the hardwood for CJI this season are Evan Dahinden, Tyler Wanken and Andrew Woods. “This off-season the boys spent a ton of time in the weight room and in the gym getting stronger and improving their overall athleticism,” Murphy said. “Our district is looking to be very talented this year but i think we'll be able to hold our own. I'm optimistic about our season, and we have a great group of boys out for the team.” The strength of the 9C was one of the biggest factors in the Hawks’ struggles a year ago, but with teams like Box Elder and HaysLodge Pole, both in the middle of rebuilding, teams like CJI have a shot at resurgence. Chinook will be the favorite to win the district, as it returns an All-State player in Cord Schneider, a First Team All-Conference performer in Isaac Bell and also returns head coach Mike Seymour for a seventh season. Yet, outside the Beeters, the other top spots in the district appear ready for the taking. But teams like CJI must act quickly because traditional powers such as Box Elder and HLP won’t be down long. Other programs, such as North Star, Fort Benton, Turner and Big Sandy, also seem to be on the rise, setting the stage for another exciting race in the challenging 9C. The 9C tournament begins in Havre Feb. 14, followed by the Northern C Divisional, which will be in Great Falls, starting Feb. 21. The Class C state tournament will be in Butte March 1-3.

For a long time, the Chester-Joplin-Inverness girls basketball team was a dominant program in the old District 10C. In fact, the Hawks were so dominant that they rarely missed a trip to the Northern C Divisional. However, three years ago, CJI moved to what is now home, the District 9C. And, their proud program has only served to make the 9C what it is, the toughest district in all of Class C girls basketball. Entering the 2017-18 season, the Hawks will be under the direction of new head coach Kristie Pulst, and she inherits a squad that will work hard to be a part of what is indeed the toughest district in Class C. A year ago, the Hawks were a young team, with only one senior, and they struggled to keep pace with the likes of Box Elder, North Star, Chinook and Fort Benton. And while

those teams will certainly be the ones the Hawks are chasing again this winter, they might be much better equipped to stay in the race, especially after the Hawks came within one point of reaching the 9C consolation game last February. CJI returns senior leaders Kendahl Knapton and Korrin Harmon, while junior Khloe Kamerzell is also back. That trio has a wealth of talent, but also experience, and gives CJI a solid foundation to work with. Kayona Fraser, Peyton Hawks and Jasmine Cole all saw extensive time on the court a season ago, so CJI has some depth to work with as well. Of course, battling the top teams in the 9C won’t be easy, but with all of CJI’s returning talent, the Hawks are certainly a team that can’t be overlooked this season, in the 9C and beyond. The District 9C tournament will be held Feb. 14-18 at the Havre High gymnasium.

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson Peyton Hawks is part of a key group of talented returning players for the Chester-JoplinInverness Hawks. CJI has a new head coach this season, and the Hawks are looking to be a force once again in the 9C.


4

2017-2018

December 2017

WINTER SPORTS

2017-2018

www.havredailynews.com

Rocky Boy will be a force once again Chris Peterson Havre Daily News sports writer gferguson@havredailynews.com For the Rocky Boy boys basketball team, the 2016-17 season was one that left the Stars feeling a little empty. After a solid regular season, Rocky Boy won the District 1B and looked poised to make it to the Class B state tournament for the second time in three years. But a blowout loss in the divisional semifinals to Shelby, followed by a two-point defeat at the hands of Choteau ended the Stars’ hopes. But with some key players returning, head coach Adam Demontiney has high hopes for 2017-18. “Things have been going good,” Demontiney said. “The boys are working really hard and they are really excited to get the season going.” One thing that certainly lends some excitement to the season for Rocky Boy is the return of junior Kendall Windy Boy, who was AllConference in each of the past two seasons. The big man has averaged a double-double in each of the past two seasons and with him in the middle, the Stars will be a force to be reckoned with in the Northern B Division. Making the Stars an even more viable contender is the return of Kordell Small and Ben Iron Eyes. “Ben has been doing really good in practice,” Demontiney said. “He’s one of our seniors and he has been doing a great job. He gets everybody going and working hard in practice.” Beyond the three returning starters from last season, the Stars have others coming

back with experience such as Frankie Bacon and Olin Arkinson. Others who should see time playing time this season are Kade Galbavy, Blake Cantrell, Jamison Standing Rock, Mackaveli Sutherland and Cedric Belcourt. Rocky Boy will certainly be among the most talented teams in the 1B, but with the depth of the Northern B as a whole, nothing is guaranteed. Last season, Malta finished third at the divisional tournament, before eventually going on to win state. Shelby also finished third and is loaded again this season, especially with the return of T.J. Reynolds. “Yeah, it’s always a dog fight night in and night out,” Demontiney said. “Anybody can knock off anybody on any given night. There is a lot of great coaches, we did have a couple coaching changes in Conrad and Fairfield, but I am sure they will have their boys ready to go. Shelby is going to be tough. Choteau will be ready to go, Malta too, even though they lost some guys. Like I said, it’s going to be a dog fight.” Rocky Boy will play many of the same teams it did a season ago, except for one glaring exception — Box Elder. The Stars and Bears will not play their annual season-opening game. Both teams opened the year at the Native American Classic hosted by Salish Kootenai College, but for the first time in years, they didn’t play each other. “It’s always a fun game,” Demontiney said. “So it’s too bad that we won’t get to play Box Elder this season. The kids really get up for that game, but we will have it back next year when the Native American Classic is up north again.”

www.havredailynews.com

WINTER SPORTS

Morning Stars aim for state George Ferguson

Havre Daily News sports editor gferguson@havredailynews.com The Rocky Boy Morning Stars came ever so close to achieving an ultimate goal last season — making it to the Class B state tournament. Rocky Boy may have had a modest 14-12 overall record, but, they came within one win of making it to state, something the program has never done in its time in Class B. Now, the Morning Stars return to the hardwood to try to finish that goal, with Cameron McCormick again at the helm. “Our record last year disguised a team which nearly advanced to the State B Tournament for the first time in history,” McCormick said. Of course, the Morning Stars are always fighting an uphill battle, as they play in the toughest district in Class B, the 1B, which includes the Fairfield Eagles, a legendary program. They also play in the brutal Northern B, which includes the great Malta MEttes. And yet, Rocky Boy will be a team to be reckoned with

this season. Seniors Adrienne Gopher, Sean Henry (Second Team All-Conference), and Jaylynn Mitchell (First Team All-Conference) all return, and combined, bring with them more than 30 points per game last season. Juniors Rochelle Pease and Kristie Parker, sophomores Sasha Coffee, Tessa Big Knife and Jaynah Gopher are also all back from last year’s team, and all give Rocky Boy plenty of talent and firepower to work with. McCormick also expects freshmen Naomi Day Child and Kirsten LaMere to see varsity action this season. So, there’s no question Rocky Boy has the talent to make a serious run at the state tourney again this season. But, as always, the 1B and Northern B will be daunting. “This year's squad looks to quite simply make it to state,” McCormick said. “The District 1B could very well possibly be one of the most competitive conferences in high school girls basketball, with the likes of Dustin Gordon's Fairfield Lady Eagles, a feisty Shelby team, a tough Choteau squad, a fiery Cut Bank team,

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson Adrienne Gopher and the Rocky Boy girls were one win away from reaching the Class B state tournament a year ago. Rocky Boy hopes to get there this season. and not-to-be-counted out Conrad who happens to host the 2018 District 1B Tournament.” Rocky Boy began the season at the Native American Classic in Pablo.

13

Big Sandy will keep fighting Pioneers hope to be a team on the rise Chris Peterson Havre Daily News sports writer gferguson@havredailynews.com

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson Jaylyn Cline, right, and the Big Sandy Pioneers have a lot of returning experience this season, as well as a new head coach.

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson Kordell Small and the Rocky Boy Stars won the District 1B title a year ago. But they fell short at the Northern B Divisional. Now, Rocky Boy is returning with the goal of getting back to the Class B state tournament this winter.

December 2017

Chris Peterson Havre Daily News sports writer gferguson@havredailynews.com The Big Sandy girls basketball team is a long way from the glory days that existed under long-time head coach Roy Lackner. At one time, the Pioneers were just about a yearly participant in the Northern C Divisional and the Class C state tournament. However, in recent years the Pioneers have struggled to find the win column. Yet, with a new coach and a new season on the horizon, Big Sandy once again has a reason to be optimistic about the girls basketball program. The 2016-17 season was a tough one for the Pioneers who failed to find the win column in the District 9C. They finished the district schedule with a mark of 0-12, but had an overall record of 1-19 at the end of the season. Sometimes, a change in leadership can be good for the program and with D.J. Camp taking over for Ronnie Simpson, the Pioneers have undergone a change at the helm. Camp will oversee a team that has 16 girls out to play basketball, including four seniors and three juniors. The seniors who will be on the floor for Big Sandy this season are Andrea Rutledge, Jenna Leader, Cally Demontiney and Sophie Reichelt. The juniors who should also see plenty of playing time are Jaylyn Cline and Grace Finkie. The rest of the Pioneers roster

includes five sophomores, Lainey Gregory, Cassidy Belcourt, Amanda Cline, Seanna Demontiney and Madison Terry, as well as four freshmen Abby Syverson, Kassidy Pursley and Alicia Bjornsted. “This is going to be a year of rebuilding and fundamentals,” Big Sandy assistant coach Cheryl Strutz said. After going winless in district play last season, getting a victory within the 9C will be one of the Pioneers’ top priorities. However, that is easier said than done. Box Elder comes back after winning a second consecutive district championship last season. The Bears have an All-State player in Lily Gopher and an AllConference sophomore in Joelnell Momberg. But in addition to the Bears, Fort Benton looks strong in the 9C and with All-State guard Leah Gannon back in the fold, the Longhorns will be dangerous. North Star is another team that should be strong next season, with Paij Peterson back in the mix and head coach Rob Spicher back on the sidelines for another season. After that, the Pioneers will find themselves fighting with other teams such as Turner, Chinook, Chester-Joplin-Inverness and Hays-Lodge Pole for position in the standings. The 9C tournament begins in Havre Feb. 14, followed by the Northern C Divisional, which will be in Great Falls, starting Feb. 21. The Class C state tournament will be in Butte March 8-10.

The Big Sandy boys basketball program used to be one of the strongest in all of Montana Class C basketball. As recently as 2010, Big Sandy was a state champion. The Pioneers also finished as the Class C runner-up back in 2008. However, since that great run, the Pioneers have fallen on hard times. It’s been years since they have advanced past the District 9C tournament, but under new head coach Thomas Dilworth, Big Sandy is hoping for a basketball revival. “I played basketball in high school and have some experience coaching,” Dilworth said. “I was coaching fifth- and sixth-grade basketball in Fort Benton and this came up, so I thought I would throw my hat in the ring. I really just enjoy the game of basketball and I enjoy working the kids and trying to help improve their lives.” Last season, the Pioneers finished ith just a 3-11 mark in the 9C, as well as an overall record of 3-15. Big Sandy was sixth in the final standings in the 9C, but lost twice in the district tournament to finish with a final record of 3-17. Yet, Dilworth likes the talent that he has on his squad, he said simply, it will take some time to develop. “I knew when I took the job, it was going to take a little time,” Dilworth said. “The kids have to get used to a new coach and a new program. So that will be an adjustment. But I think once we get through that, we have a chance to be a solid team at the end of the season. Our goal is to get out of the district tournament and get to divisionals. That’s what we are shooting for, and I think by the end of the season we will be right there in that mix. I think we can finish around the top four or five teams in the regular season and then have a chance to knock off some of the top teams at the end.” One positive for the Pioneers last season, was the play of now senior Bryant Jones, who led Big Sandy in scoring on his way to earning Second-Team All-Conference honors in

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson Bryant Jones, left, and the Big Sandy Pioneers are under the direction of a new head coach this season. the 9C. Jones will be the top offensive option for Big Sandy this season but will be joined by a bevy of young, talented players such as Parker and Blake Prouix, Ryan Roth, Kade Strutz and Clint Darlington. “We are going to be starting mostly freshmen and sophomores,” Dilworth said. “But I think that we have some guys that are going to exceptional players. We have a lot of the same athletes that did well in football, we just need to come together and grow as a team. But I think by the end of the season, we will be right there with a chance to be among those top three teams in the district.” Box Elder, as the five-time district champion, is going to be a team to watch out for, as will Chinook, which fell two games shy of qualifying for the state tournament last season. Hays-Lodge Pole, North Star and Fort Benton are other teams that should find their way into contention, although Turner and Chester-Joplin-Inverness can’t be counted out. Big Sandy opened its season at the CJI Tournament.


14

2017-2018

December 2017

WINTER SPORTS

2017-2018

www.havredailynews.com

www.havredailynews.com

WINTER SPORTS

December 2017

HLP girls look to T-Birds must reload Loaded Beeters Chinook girls will show improvement after a magical run ready to top the 9C be right in the mix George Ferguson Havre Daily News sports editor gferguson@havredailynews.com

Over the past few seasons, the Hays-Lodge Pole girls basketball team has been steadily improving and now that the 2017-18 season is just around the corner for the Thunderbirds, they will get the chance to improve even more. After notching just a few wins in the previous seasons combined, the T-Birds actually had a bit of a breakthrough last year, winning five games overall and four in the District 9C during the regular season. The T-Birds did tie for sixth in the final district standings, but they also notched some big victories, such as their upset win at Chinook last December. The Sugarbeeters have always had a solid program, but HLP, thanks to a spectacular night from Rayleigh Kirkaldie, was able to pull the upset. Of course, that early-season confidence boost didn’t translate to a lot of wins down the road, but the T-Birds still had to be encouraged by their finish and a solid performance at the District 9C Tournament last spring. The most encouraging thing for the T-Birds, who were very young last season, is the return of Kirkaldie, who earned Second-Team AllConference honors in the 9C last season. She will be joined on the roster by Miquela Perez, as well as a slew of other players who will be returning to the program this season. While the T-Birds have been steadily improving in girls basketball, getting the team to reach the next level, which would mean advancing past the 9C tournament, still feels like a ways away. Part of the reason for that is simply the difficulty of the district and the Northern C Division. The Box Elder Bears have built a dominant team under head coach Joel Rosette. The Bears haven’t lost a 9C game in two

years. They are also the two-time defending district champs and have made three straight trips to divisionals. Unfortunately for teams like HLP, Chester-Joplin-Inverness, Turner, Big Sandy and Chinook, getting out of the district is going to be really difficult. With Box Elder, Fort Benton and North Star all looking strong, surpassing one of those teams may be difficult, especially with Chinook also in the mix. The T-Birds will also compete with Big Sandy, Turner and CJI to try and get into the top half of the 9C this season. The 9C tournament begins in Havre Feb. 14, followed by the Northern C Divisional, which will be in Great Falls, starting Feb. 21. The Class C state tournament will be in Butte March 8-10.

George Ferguson Havre Daily News sports editor gferguson@havredailynews.com

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson David Main is one of only a handful of players returning for the Hays-Lodge Pole boys this season, after the T-Birds won the Northern C and placed fourth at state a year ago.

Chris Peterson Havre Daily News sports writer gferguson@havredailynews.com

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson The Hays-Lodge Pole girls basketball team will once again be an underdog in the loaded District 9C.

The 2016-17 season was a dream come true for the Hays-Lodge Pole boys basketball program. The Thunderbirds won the Northern C Divisional championship and played on Saturday night at the state tournament for the first time in a decade. The T-Birds wound up fourth at the Class C state tournament, following a loss in the semifinals to eventual state champ Arlee, but by any measure, it was a historic run. Unfortunately, now comes the process of rebuilding. And while HLP is without some key players from last year’s team, it still has one thing going for it, head coach Derrick Shambo. Shambo, the father of Tyson Shambo, who earned All-State honors for the T-Birds last season, will be back on the bench. Yet, not only will he be without his son Tyson, but other key players such as All-State performer Frank Runs Above and First Team AllConference selection Jace Shambo are also gone due to graduation. “This year we are definitely going to have to do some rebuilding,” Shambo said. “We lost a lot of talent from last season’s team. We still have some good players, but they are young. We are missing some other guys because of injury, so we might have some growing pains early, but I think by the end of the season, we will be right there.” Of course, to get the T-Birds in a position to challenge at the District 9C Tournament in February, coach Shambo and his squad have a lot of work to do. However, one thing

that will help is the return of three players who saw varsity action a season ago in Chance Main, David Main and Michael Ball. Shambo also indicated that others such as Mo Cliff, Jeffrey Stiffarm and Tony Sears will see the floor plenty. “Right now, Chance Main is hurt and might not be back until January,” Shambo said. “So that’s a big loss for us. That will hurt. So David Main and Michael Ball are the only guys I have back with varsity experience. But some of our juniors, they will get a lot of playing time and will probably step into starting roles for me.” While the T-Birds aren’t alone in their loss of talent, they have probably lost as much or more than any other team in the district. Box Elder is right with them, losing two All-State players and another that earned All-Conference honors. However, the T-Birds, along with CJI, are the only teams in the district to not have at least one AllConference player back from last season, which means if HLP wants to get back to divisionals, it has a lot of work to do in the coming months. “It’s going to be tough,” Shambo said. “The district should be very competitive again. I think Chinook is going to be the favorite. They have a lot of talent, a lot of size and a lot of athleticism. Box Elder should still be solid. North Star is another team that should be in the mix, along with Fort Benton, but for the most part, it seems pretty competitive across the board.” The 9C tournament begins in Havre Feb. 14, followed by the Northern C Divisional, which will be in Great Falls, starting Feb. 21. The Class C state tournament will be in Butte March 1-3.

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson Cord Schneider, middle, and the Chinook boys are considered the top contender for the 2018 District 9C championship.

Chris Peterson Havre Daily News sports writer gferguson@havredailynews.com Under the direction of head coach Mike Seymour, the Chinook boys basketball program has inched closer and closer to making the Class C state tournament. But now, with quite possibly the most talented team he has ever had, the Sugarbeeters hopes of joining the elite teams at state seems better than ever. After all, the Beeters were just two wins short last season and with almost the entire team back in the fold, expectations are high. “I think we kind of always have a target on our back,” Seymour said. “I don’t know if it’s because the size of our school, because we are one of the bigger Class C schools, but we always seem to get everybody's best game. I think in our district, there is still a target on Box Elder. They have the great tradition, they have won five in a row and they are the team we are all gunning for right now.” While Box Elder has won five consecutive District 9C championships, the Bears and Hays-Lodge Pole, which won the Northern C Divisional title last season, are both dealing with heavy losses to graduation. Chinook, on the other hand, lost just one key player from last season’s team in big man Wade Schneider. Beyond that, the Beeters return just about everybody, including All-State junior Cord Schneider and First-Team All-Conference selection Isaac Bell, who is also a junior. Yet, those aren’t the only experienced play-

ers back as Trajan Hannum, Brendan Edwards, James Christensen, Riley Kellam and Hunter Neibauer are all back in the fold. “These kids have been around for a while,” Seymour said. “And they are maturing now. They are bigger, faster and stronger.” Chinook may have experience, but it also has a tremendous amount of height and athleticism for a Class C team. Schneider and Bell are both over 6’3”, as is Edwards, and Neibauer, who is a now a sophomore, is 6’1”, giving Chinook a team full of big, fast guys that most Class C squads can only dream of. “We do have a lot of size,” Seymour said. “But what I really like is our depth. I can sub in and at the Class C level, often times when people sub they lose a little something, the level of play goes down. But I have the luxury of subbing in our players and our level of play could be the same or even go up.” Of course, getting out of the District 9C isn’t easy, not with teams like Box Elder, HLP, North Star, Fort Benton, Turner, Big Sandy and Chester-Joplin-Inverness to contend with. But after the Beeters run at the Northern C, where they knocked off DentonGeyser-Stanford and Sunburst to reach the semifinals, the team appears poised ready for bigger and better things in 2017-18. “I think those extra games we were able to get last season were vital,” Seymour said. “Getting that tournament experience at that age is huge. All of them did seem to grow as the season went along. They seemed to grow and get better and that’s something we have talked about this year. Every day, we want to get better. Every day, we want to grow.”

The Chinook Sugarbeeters have been one of the most dominant teams in all of 9C girls basketball over the last decade. And there’s no reason why they can’t be again this season. However, as the Beeters start a brand new season, they will have a new name, but a familiar one, as their head coach. Longtime Chinook basketball assistant Lesa Macleod is now in charge of the Beeters, taking over for Mollie Rose. In her time at Chinook, Macloed has served as an assitant coach to Chris Daniel, the late Charlie Robinson and to Rose. Now however, she will lead the Beeters, while Jordan Miller and Matt Molyneaux will be her assistants. “I am looking forward to a competitive season for our Sugarbeeters,” Macleod said. “The sophomore and freshman classes have added some talented players to the program which has allowed us to have higher level practices.” Of course, Macleod also inherits a squad with tons of talent, led by five outstanding seniors. Erin Pula, Sierra Swank, Carrie Hofer, Hailey McMaster and Jaye Anderson are all back to give the Beeters veteran leadership. But the depth doesn’t end there either, as five juniors in Kourtney Hanson, Megan Molyneaux, Ashley Macleod, Rachel Gunderson and Lincy Johnson only add to Chinook’s deep and talented squad. And depth, along with height, is what should help keep Chinook right in the mix for yet another district championship, something the Beeters would like to get back to doing this season. However, with Box Elder and Fort Benton returning very strong teams as well, Macleod knows this season will be a good one in the 9C. “Last season the team did not advance out of the district tournament, obviously this season we hope to be more competitive in the district and move on in the post season,” Macleod said.  “As always, the 9C is going to be tough this year. I look for Box Elder to be a front-runner, and believe Fort Benton and North Star will also put together good sea-

3

sons. I do not want to discount teams like CJI, Turner and Hays as they have put in a lot of time over the summer improving their game. We are going to have to come prepared each and every night.” Chinook will try to get past the 9C this year when it returns to the Havre High gymnasium Feb. 14-18.

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson Sierra Swank and the Chinook girls basketball team just missed out on a Northern C berth last season. But the Sugarbeeters will be right back in the hunt this year, and they'll do it with a new head coach in Lesa Macleod. Macleod has been a longtime assistant coach in the girls program at Chinook and now she takes over for Mollie Rose.


2

2017-2018

December 2017

December 15th December 16th January 6th January 13th January 19th January 20th January 27th February 3rd February 9th-10th

WINTER SPORTS

Great Falls ~ 4:30 p.m. Great Falls ~ 12:00 p.m. Class "A" Meet ~ Hardin ~ 1:00 p.m. CMR/Great Falls High School ~ 12:00 p.m. Great Falls High School ~ 4:00 p.m. Missoula ~ TBA Havre ~ 12:00 p.m. Open State ~ Great Falls

www.havredailynews.com

www.havredailynews.com

WINTER SPORTS

Chinook, Harlem Havre High swimmers hope for a return to racing for excellence in form on the mat and out of the pool

Pony swim teams excited and read to dive into a challenging new season George Ferguson Havre Daily News sports editor gferguson@havredailynews.com

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson Havre High senior Jessica Otto swims the butterfly during last year's Havre Invitational at the Havre Community Pool. The 2017-18 swimming season is underway for the Blue Pony boys and girls swim teams, coached by second-year head man Bill Kilgore.

2017-2018

Swimming at Havre High has always been a strong tradition. And that tradition won’t change this winter, as the Blue Ponies get set to jump in the pool once again. Havre High is led by second-year head coach Bill Kilgore, and the Pony boys and girls are excited about the upcoming season, after the Havre girls finished third in Class A a year ago and the Pony boys finished fifth. “Our team is very excited to start this year,” Kilgore said. “We’ve had record attendance at our voluntary open pool swims in the pre-season and our roster numbers are up again this year.  They truly are working as hard as they can to bring a championship to Havre.” Both of Kilgore’s squads also return plenty of talent to the pool, too, starting with Amelia Miller, who returns after having reached two finals at last year’s Montana State Swimming Championships. Miller is already highly decorated, and she comes back as one of the top freestyle swimmers in the state. Miller is also part of a strong group of returning Pony girls, including Jessica Otto (butterfly), Jillian Reighard (all-around), Hannah Lunak (backstroke) and Lacey Huseby (butterfly). Kilgore also expects contributions from newcomers Kobi Burchard and Megan Miller, among others. Morgan Flammond, Alexis Haney, Gabriella Kucera, Victoria Messineo, Brynna Nault, Aria Pratt, Hannah Pratt, Angela Rhines, Kimberly Shanks, Star Thomas, Laura Vance and Carsyn Vogel will also impact the Pony girls. “The girls team once again will be a solid team built with strong depth and a punch of strong talent on the upper end,” Kilgore said. “Leading the way are our senior girls and captains, Amelia Miller, Jess Otto and Jillian Reighard. Those girls are setting the bar high and teaching the newcomers just what it will take to meet the lofty goals of a state championship.  The strength of the team, though, is the consistent depth in all the strokes across all of the classes.” The Pony girls are just two years removed from their last state championship, and

they’ll be chasing one again this season, though Billings Central and Whitefish will be tough, as well. Meanwhile, the Havre boys have been building in recent years, and though the Ponies did lose several key seniors from last year’s team, they should be strong again, led by the return of Paxtin McCann (butterfly), Jacob Miller (breaststroke), Noah Gjesdahl (freestyle), Ammon Lines (all around) and John Klein (freestyle), while Riley Kilgore, Aylan Pratt and Logan Twombly are also back, as is Kabe Burchard. Christian Mathis is a newcomer Kilgore is excited about, as well “The boys team has been a work in progress the last few years as we rebuild the numbers and depth,” Kilgore said. “We continue with growth and depth as our goal, as well as improvement in the standings. This year’s team will be led by a patchwork of all the classes that are quickly gaining confidence. The team’s strength lies in the core of young men that has helped lead the boys team back to success.” Of course, the Havre boys always have to contend with strong teams from Billings Central and Hardin, while Whitefish is quietly building a strong program, as well. But Kilgore also sees so much potential, along with plenty of talent in both of his teams, and that should make for an exciting season in the pool. Havre's schedule, which started with the Havre Invitational, also helps the Ponies progress. Havre will race in four different regular season meets with Class AA and A competition in Great Falls this season, as well as take part in the prestigius Missoula Invitational and the annual Class A Meet, which is slated for Jan. 6 in Hardin. "Our team’s motto this year is ‘Choose Excellence,’” Kilgore said.  “The Blue Pony swim team will always have the goal of a state championship, but in order to do that, our swimmers must choose to do all of the little things in order to reach such a lofty goal. So our goal, first and foremost, is to make good decisions as individuals and as a team across all aspects of our swimmers’ lives; nutrition, work ethic, responsibility, dependability, accountability and honesty just to name a few. So the measurable goal will always be a championship, but the real goal for this team is to learn how to make the choices to get there.” As always, the Ponies will work their way through a tough schedule in December and January, building up to the Montana State Swimming Championships, which will be held Feb. 9-10 in Great Falls.

Chris Peterson Havre Daily News sports writer gferguson@havredailynews.com

The Chinook wrestling program fell just short of reaching the podium at the Class C state wrestling tournament in 2017, but with 11 wrestlers in tow, including a talented freshman class, the Sugarbeeters plan on being back sooner not later. Of course, the Beeters have a big advantage of lots of teams in the state, just based off the coaching staff, which is led by co-head coaches Perry Miller and Adam Tilleman. The two have overseen numerous state championships and most recently consecutive state championships in 2015 and 2016. Chinook also won straight championships from 2009-2012, meaning the Beeters have won six of the the last nine Class C wrestling championships. But as is generally the case in high schools, there is change from one season to another and Chinook wrestling is no different. Gone to graduation is two-time state champion, three-time finalists and four-time medalist, Tate Niederegger. He racked up a lot of points at the state tournament over the past few seasons, but Miller said he feels good about this group. “I am really excited about these kids,” Miller said. “Of course, you don’t really know until you get out and see what you have, but these kids have been working extremely hard, and I think they are going to come together nicely at the end of the season.” Niederegger may have been the only Chinook wrestler to find the podium last season, but he was joined at state by J.T. Hauer, a sophomore who returns for Chinook this season to wrestle at 152 pounds. “J.T. has really improved,” Miller said. “He went and did the Disney Duals with the Sidney team and he did really well there. He really put in a lot of work over the summer.” In addition to Hauer, some of the other returners this season for Chinook are Garrett Lowham (145), Colton Riddle (138), Ross Reed (152) and Reubin Swenson (205). Miller said he was also excited about his freshman class which features Austin Swanson at 103 pounds, Garrett Pruttis (120), the brother of former state champion Kenny Pruttis, and Rebecca Stroh, the sister of Ben Stroh, a fourtime state champion and an NAIA NAtional Champion. Ty Mitchell (182), Riley Weigand

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson Colton Liddle, left, is part of a new-look roster for head coach Perry Miller's Chinook wrestling team. The Sugarbeeters will be young this season, but they're anxious to get back in the Class C state championship hunt. and Favion Courutier round out the roster. “We have never had a girl in our program,” Miller said, “but we are definitely excited about it. There are women’s programs all over the place. She seems to enjoy it, she is working hard. We haven’t slowed anything down for her and she keeps up.” With a mix of young talent and veterans, the long-time Chinook coach said that when the state tournament rolls around in February, his team will be ready to contend. However, the Beeters aren’t the only local program in Class B-C wrestling. Harlem had four wrestlers make it to state a season ago and three of them, Curtis Humphreys, Zach Johnson and Gavin Horn are back this season for the Wildcats. Joining Harlem and Chinook in wrestling this season will be Big Sandy, Chester-Joplin-Invernes and Hays-Lodge Pole. The Northern B Divisional wrestling tournament will be held Feb. 3, with the All-Class State tournament taking place the following week Feb. 9-10 at the Metra in Billings.

December 2017

15

Box Elder: Bears going for six 9C's in a row ■ From Page 7 lead the Bears into the future, he said he is lucky that MacDonald is still around. “Everything has been going really good,” Myers said. “I am lucky to have Jeremy around still to show me the ropes and help me with this transition from being an assistant, to being the head coach. I am still just trying to follow in his footsteps and follow the example that he set for this program.” While Myers has some big shoes to fill on the sidelines, his players have some big shoes to fill on the court, too. Box Elder lost three players who received All-Conference honors in the 9C last season, in Pernell Morsette and Trey Henderson, who each earned Class C All-State honors as well, while also losing Dusty Weiss, who was a Second Team selection within the district. The Bears had another player named Second Team in the 9C and that was point guard Tanner Parisian, who will be one of the only returning starters from last season. Parisian will be a key player for the Bears this season, but other top contributors will include Seth Duran, Chris Burns, Kaden Duran and Payton Gardipee, as well as a number of other young players that Myers said are still developing. “You know when you have a program that has had the success like we had under coach MacDonald, you get that target on your back,” Myers said. “We know that teams want to try and beat us. But we know that, and we are working hard to beat the odds because a lot of people don’t think we are as strong.” Of course, the Bears will face plenty of challenges in the 9C this season, mainly from Chinook, which returns almost its entire roster from a divisional run a season ago. HaysLodge Pole will be looking to retool like the Bears, but others such as North Star, Fort Benton, Big Sandy, Turner and Chester-Joplin-Inverness, are also gunning for a top spot in the league. But as of now, the Bears aren’t worried about that. They are focused on improving, getting better and playing their best basketball when it matters most.

“I tell my guys all the time, that it’s a marathon, not a sprint,” Myers said. “Obviously, we want to win the district and do all those things, but those are long-term goals. And before we even starting thinking about that, we have a lot of short-term goals that we need to take care of first.” Box Elder will attempt to win a sixth straight district title when the 9C tournament comes to Havre starting Feb. 14. The Northern C Divisional will be back in Great Falls and will start Feb. 21, followed by the Class C state tournament which will be held in Butte March 1-3.

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson Tanner Parisian is one of the few veterans the five-time defending 9C champion Box Elder Bears will have in LaVon Myers first season as head coach.


16

2017-2018

December 2017

Dec. 15th-16th December 16th December 19th December 21st January 5th-6th January 6th January 12th-13th January 13th January 19th January 19th-20th January 20th January 23rd January 27th February 3rd February 9th-10th

WINTER SPORTS

Coeur d' Alene, Idaho ~ Idaho Great Falls (JV) ~ Great Falls Lewistown ~ Lewistown 5:00 p.m. Sidney 5:00 p.m. Glendive 6:00 p.m. ~ Sidney Cut Bank Invite ~ Cut Bank Cut Bank Invite (JV) ~ Cut Bank Missoula Invite ~ Missoula John Fisher (JV) ~ Missoula Chinook (JV) ~ Chinook 3:30 p.m. Class "A" Duals ~ Lewistown 1:00 p.m. Harlem (JV) ~ Harlem Glasgow ~ Havre 5:30 p.m. Malta ~ Malta Divisionals ~ Belgrade State ~ Billings

www.havredailynews.com

No end in sight to the Blue Pony wrestling dynasty Havre High loaded for a run at a sixth straight Class A title Chris Peterson Havre Daily News sports writer gferguson@havredailynews.com The Havre High wrestling team is in the midst of a historic run of state championships, and despite losing two of the greatest wrestlers in program history, the Blue Ponies have no intention of abdicating their thrown in Class A wrestling. Some teams around the state may view the 2017-18 wrestling season as a chance to take down the Ponies, following the graduation of three state champions, Parker Filius, Jase Stokes and Dane Flammond. However, with three state champs returning, along with a slew of others with experience finding the podium at state, Havre isn’t going anywhere, anytime soon. “We are spread out well, we have three state champs back and two other finalists in the lineup,” HHS head coach Scott Filius said, ”so it’s not like the cupboard is bare. Right now, the kids are really buying in and working hard. We have great leadership and we are spread out, so it’s going to be fun.” Havre may return just two individual state champions from the 2017 Class A state tournament, but the healthy return of Tyler Schaub, who won a state title at 205 pounds as a sophomore in 2016, gives Havre three former state champions. “He is 100 percent,” Filius said. “He has been looking good. Having him back means a ton, we missed him last year.” Schaub will be going for his second state title this winter, while Wilkie, a junior, will be looking to win his third straight championship. Reno, a sophomore, will be going for two in a row. In addition to those three wrestlers, Havre also returns Lane Paulson and Cameron Pleninger, who were each finalists a season ago. Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson Havre High senior Lane Paulson, left, throws a GFH opponent during the 2017 Havre Invitational earlier this month. Paulson and the Blue Ponies are chasing a remarkable sixth straight Class A team title this winter. Paulson is also one of many returning All-State performers for longtime head coach Scott Filius.

Yet, those five are far from the only Havre wrestlers with a successful pedigree at the state tournament. Ryan Stewart has placed three times at state and will be looking to add that elusive individual state title this season as he will wrestle at 132 pounds. Havre also got a pair of top-three finishes from Mason Dionne and Connor Harris, who were third at 152 and 132 pounds respectively, last season as freshmen. In all, Havre has eight wrestlers back who found the podium at state in 2017, as well as others such as Austin Ratliff, Taylor Gopher and Marc Ramirez who have previous state wrestling experience, as does Schroeder, who also missed last season due to injury. “We have a lot of young guys that did really well last year,” Filius said, “but I don’t think any of them are satisfied with that. I would suspect that all of them want to keep pushing to reach that next level and I expect them to get there. All these kids have worked really hard, not only in these first couple weeks of practice but all offseason.” Havre will certainly have a lot of the same faces back from last season, but many of them will be wrestling at different weights in 2017. At the top of the lineup, in the 103-pound weight class, Havre will turn to freshman Mick Chagnon. Pleninger will then move up to 113 pounds and Reno will bump up to 120. Ramirez will wrestle at 126 pounds for HHS, followed by Stewart at 132 pounds, Paulson at 138 pounds and Wilkie, who will move up from 126 to 145. Harris, a sophomore, is another who is jumping up in weight this season, wrestling at 152 pounds, as is Dionne, who will go up to the 170-pound weight class. Gopher will wrestle at 160 pounds for the Ponies, and when Schroeder is healthy he will wrestle at 182 pounds, followed by Schaub at 205 pounds and Ratliff in the heavyweight division. Havre opened the season at the Havre Invitational and the pretigious Mining City Duals. The Blue Ponies' season culminates with the Eastern A Divisional in Belgrade Feb. 3 and the All-Class State Tournament Feb. 9-10 in Billings.

Profile for Havre Daily News

Area Winter Sports 2017  

Area Winter Sports 2017  

Profile for havrenews
Advertisement