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Hays/Lodge Pole Thunderbirds will get season started at Native American Classic


December 5, 2018

The Hays/Lodge Pole Thunderbird boys and girls basketball teams have been working hard the past few weeks in preparation for the upcoming season and are excited to get things started this weekend.

The Thunderbirds will head to Havre to play in the Native American Classic being played on the campus of Montana State University-Northern at the Armory gymnasium. The Thunderbird girls will get started on Thursday in the first game of the Classic at 4:00 p.m. against the Browning JV.

The Thunderbird boys will also take the Browning JV and will tip off after the conclusion of the girls game on Thursday.

Friday afternoon the Thunderbird girls will take on the Heart Butte Warriors at 11 a.m. The boys will play their second game of the season on Saturday against the Poplar Indians with tip off at 9:15 in the morning.

Corey Morgan is again leading the Thunderbird girls team and has plenty of talent returning to this years squad.

Seniors Rayleigh Kirkaldie and Latasha Kirkaldie bring a ton of experience to the squad as does junior Muleeah Stiffarm. Senior Tahlia Werk will be looked to for leadership as well.

In addition their plenty of players looking to make a contribution at the varsity level. Sophomore Sierra Chandler will be asked to fill a larger roll as will junior Sheraya Boushie and sophomores Justice Werk and Kassie Perez.

Freshman Jaedyn Chandler, Tahtianna Morgan and Lakota Pretty Paint will also look to make an impact.

"Mulleeah Stiffarm is a junior, Latasha Kirkaldie a senior and Sierra Chandler a sophomore are three I'll look to lead the team on the floor," commented Morgan.

When asked about his teams strengths Morgan commented, "I like our combination of experience and inexperience. We have a lot of athleticism and team chemistry."

Early in the season practice is vital in getting off to a good start, "Practice has been going well, a lot of younger girls out which I think makes things more competitive. I hope to see us play tough defense and just want to see where we stand with everyone else's strengths and weaknesses," added Morgan.

As far as season goals, "Finish better than we did last season and work hard every day on and off the court. Try our best to get out of districts," concluded Morgan.

Derrick Shambo returns for another season as Head Coach of the Thunderbird boys program and again has a very senior laden team with eight on the roster but the Thunderbirds only return a handful, "I have five returning players from last years team, two were starters for me. This year I'm gonna lean on Jeffry Stiffarm Jr., Kyle Young Jr., Gilbert Snow to be my leaders on and off the court this season," said Shambo.

The Thunderbirds always seem to be competitive and Shambo expects them to be again this year, "Our biggest strengths this year is gonna be our speed, athleticism and depth on the bench. I have eight seniors on the roster this year so we'll have a lot of experienced players with a good understanding of the game."

Shambo has taken the Thunderbirds to state and knows what is required to get there, "This year during practice we did a lot more conditioning then recent years. We've spent a lot of time on our presses and just trying to fine tune the best we could. My expectations are just to see my boys compete at a high level and analyze the first two games to see what we need to work on to have a successful season and tournament."

As with any team the Thunderbirds have goals for the season, "Our team goals are to be competitive every game and just to have fun and enjoy ourselves more on the court. To play disciplined defense and make the game as fast paced as possible. One of our main goals is to make the District 9C championship game and advance to the divisional tournament and make a run for the State tournament," concluded Shambo.

The Thunderbirds will begin District 9C play the following week when they travel to Chinook to face the Sugarbeeters on Friday, December 14.

The District 9C Tournament will again be played in Havre at the High School gymnasium. The tournament will run February 13-16 with the top three teams advancing to the Northern C Divisional in Great Falls, February 20-23 at the Four Seasons Arena, The top two teams from there will advance to the State Tournament.

The boys state tournament will be played in Billings at the Rim Rock Auto Arena, March 7-9.


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