Flathead Schools Struggle at State Basketball

By Beacon Staff

It was a tough weekend of state tournament basketball for Flathead Valley high schools.

The five local teams – boys and girls – that played in state tournaments on March 11-13 went a combined 1-10, with the Columbia Falls girls claiming the only victory. The Wildkats beat Frenchtown 46-41 in a loser-out contest at the Class A tournament on March 12. The next day, they lost out of the tourney, falling 62-48 to Anaconda.

Polson, the region’s other representative at the Class A girls state basketball tournament, lost out in consecutive games. The Lady Pirates dropped a close game in the first round to Sidney 44-40. Sidney went on to lose to Billings Central in the championship 50-42. Polson fell to Havre 52-44 to end its season on March 12.

Bigfork proved it belonged among the state’s elite in Class B, though the Valkyries came up just short in each of their two tournament games. In the first round, the Valkyries battled defending champion Fairfield down the wire before losing 56-49.

Fairfield moved on to face Malta in a Class B championship rematch. This time, Malta prevailed, defeating Fairfield 51-44.

After the Fairfield loss, Bigfork played Columbus in a loser-out game on March 12. The Valkyries led 37-26 at halftime and took a comfortable lead into the fourth quarter, but gave up 25 points in the final period. Columbus pulled ahead in the final seconds to win 61-60.

Flathead and Glacier both earned trips to the Class AA boys state tournament for the first time since Kalispell adopted the two high school format three years ago.

Glacier entered the tourney as Western AA’s lowest seed, No. 4. In the first round, the Wolfpack faced off against the top-ranked team in the state, Billings West. Despite being a heavy underdog, Glacier led for most of the game before giving away the lead in the last several seconds of the game.

West beat Glacier 53-50 and went on to lose to C.M. Russell in the championship 71-41. Glacier moved on to the consolation bracket, where it lost to Billings Senior.

As Western AA’s third seed, the Braves drew C.M. Russell in the first round. Flathead lost 62-37. Then in the consolation bracket, the Braves lost to Billings Skyview in a loser-out game 50-43 to end their season.

Northwest Montana had no teams in the Class AA and Class C girls state basketball tournaments, also played on March 11-13. The other three state tournaments – boys Class A, B and C – were played on March 4-6.

Below are the final results for all of the state basketball tournaments, played March 4-6 and March 11-13.

Class AA Boys:

• C.M. Russell defeated Billings West 71-41 in championship

• Billings Senior defeated Helena Capital 51-46 for third place

Class AA Girls:

• Bozeman defeated C.M. Russell 36-31 in championship

-Billings Wets defeated Missoula Sentinel 42-39 for third place

Class A Boys:

-Laurel defeated Polson 60-48 in championship

-Columbia Falls defeated Billings Central 51-30 for third place

Class A Girls:

-Billings Central defeated Sidney 50-42 in championship

-Anaconda defeated Havre 41-33 for third place

Class B Boys:

-Rocky Boy defeated Shelby 58-49 in championship

-Florence-Carlton defeated Shepherd 54-47 for third place

Class B Girls:

-Malta defeated Fairfield 51-44 in championship

-Loyola Sacred-Heart defeated Columbus 57-36 for third place

Class C Boys:

-Big Sandy defeated Power 51-49 in championship

-Culbertson defeated Arlee 43-41 for third place

-Fairview defeated Saco-Whitewater 58-42 in championship

-Harlowton-Ryegate defeated Belt 56-51 for third place