Columbia Falls Sweeps Divisionals

By Beacon Staff

For the third year in a row Columbia Falls High School swept the Northwestern A divisional basketball tournament, with both the boys and girls claiming championships.

And in Class AA, Glacier High School’s boys won the first conference title in school history, earning a No. 1 seed and a bye to the state tournament on March 10-12.

The Columbia Falls boys defeated Polson 60-59 in the divisional championship game on Feb. 26 in Ronan. The same day, the girls beat Libby 46-37 to claim the conference title.

Both teams earned No. 1 seeds at the Class A state tournament, held March 3-5 at the Belgrade Special Events Center for girls and on the same dates at Montana State University in Bozeman for boys.

Columbia Falls’ boys, with their near-perfect 20-1 record, play at 6:30 p.m. in a first-round game against either Belgrade or Browning, who were scheduled to play in a challenge game on Feb. 28. The girls face Belgrade at 8 p.m. Thursday night.

Polson’s boys earned Northwestern A’s No. 2 seed and will play Central No. 1 Butte Central at 12:30 p.m. on Thursday. Libby’s girls play Central A’s top seed Butte Central at 2 p.m. Thursday.

The other scheduled first-round games for Class A boys are Southwestern No. 1 Dillon against Eastern No. 2 Billings Central at 2 p.m. and Eastern No. 1 Laurel against either Corvallis or Stevensville at 8 p.m.

Rounding out the first-round schedule for Class A girls is Eastern No. 1 Billings Central against Southwestern No. 2 Dillon at 12:30 p.m., along with Southwestern No. 1 Anaconda versus Eastern No. 2 Laurel at 6:30 p.m.

In Class B, Bigfork’s boys made it to the Western B divisional tournament championship game where they lost to Florence 72-57 on Feb. 26. The Vikings were scheduled to play Troy in a loser-out challenge game Monday night in Pablo.

With a victory, the Vikings would advance to the state tournament on March 10-12 at Expo Park in Great Falls. Brackets have not been set yet for the tournament as divisional play is still scheduled this week.

Bigfork’s girls narrowly missed out on a trip to state, which is held March 3-5 in Butte. The Valkyries lost to Deer Lodge 41-37 in the semifinals before winning their final two games to finish third.

Only the top two teams – divisional champion Missoula Loyola Sacred Heart and runner-up Deer Lodge – advanced to the state tournament. Loyola will take on Baker at 12:30 p.m. Thursday and Deer Lodge squares off against Shepherd at 8 p.m.

Thursday’s other first-round games are Fairfield against Three Forks and Broadus against Malta or Glasgow.

The other state tournament held this week is Class C girls in Hamilton on March 3-5. First-round games are as follows: Ennis against Broadview/Lavina or Joliet at 12:30 p.m.; Belt against Scobey/Opheim or Saco-Whitewater at 2 p.m.; Harlowton/Ryegate against Drummond at 6:30 p.m.; and Fairview against Winnett/Grass Range at 8 p.m.

The Class C boys tournament will be held March 10-12 at MSU in Bozeman. Divisional play continues this week.

Both Class AA tournaments are scheduled for March 10-12, with play-in postseason games held this week. Glacier’s boys don’t have to worry about a play-in game as they received a bye to state by winning the Western AA regular season crown.

The Wolfpack clinched the title by defeating rival Flathead 56-49 on Feb. 25. Glacier enters the state tournament riding an 11-game winning streak. The Wolfpack’s record is 14-6 overall and 10-2 in the conference. With their No. 1 seed, they will face Eastern AA’s No. 4 seed in the first round at 5 p.m. on March 10.

Glacier’s girls have a play-in game this week for the chance to earn a trip to the state tournament in Butte on March 10-12. Both the girls and boys from Flathead also have play-in games.

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