We Have It Covered: Blaine County Sports Fans Are In For A Treat This Winter


November 30, 2022

The Blaine County Journal ~ News Opinion is thrilled to bring our readers a preview of all of our local high school sports teams as they prepare for the 2022-23 season.

Blaine County is home to 12 teams competing in Basketball and Wrestling. The Chinook Sugarbeeters and Harlem Wildcats each field girls and boys basketball teams as well as girls and boys wrestling teams. The Hays/Lodge Pole Thunderbirds and Turner Tornadoes are home to both girls and boys basketball programs.

In Basketball, Chinook, Hays/Lodge Pole and Turner will compete in the District 9C once again this winter. The season kicks off for the Tornadoes this weekend in Glasgow at the Class C Showcase. The Sugarbeeters will begin play at the Shelby Tournament on December 9 while the Thunderbirds will be in Billings, December 9 at the Native American Shootout. All three schools will begin District 9C play on Friday, December 16. The regular season will conclude on Saturday, February 11, 2023.

The District 9C includes teams from Box Elder, North Star, Big Sandy, Chester/Joplin-Inverness and Fort Benton in addition to Chinook, Turner and Hays/Lodge Pole. The District 8C and the District 10C complete the Northern C line-up.

The District 9C Tournament will again be played at the Havre High School Gymnasium, February 16-19. The top three teams will advance to the Northern C Divisional the following week at the Four Seasons Arena in Great Falls. The Class C Girls and Boys State Basketball Tournament will be played at the Rimrock Auto Arena at Metra Park in Billings, Montana March 8-11.

The Sugarbeeters are competing at the Class C level for the last time this season. The ‘Beeters will move up to the Class B ranks for the 2023-24 season and will play in the District 1B. The district 1B includes teams from Rocky Boy, Shelby Conrad, Choteau, Cut Bank, Conrad and Fairfield.

The Harlem Wildcats and Lady Cats will begin their season in Billings on Friday, December 9 at the Lockwood Tip Off Tournament being played at Lockwood High School. They will begin District 2B play on Friday, December 16 in Malta. The regular season will conclude on Friday, February 10, 2023 in Glasgow.

The District 2B Tournament will take place February 16-18 at Malta High School. The top four teams will then advance to the Northern B Divisional in Glasgow, February 23-25. The Class B Girls and Boys state Tournament will be played March 9-11 in Great Falls at the Four Seasons Arena. The District 2B also includes teams from Poplar, wolf Point, Malta and Glasgow. The District 1B completes the 11 team Northern B line-up.

The Chinook Sugarbeeter Girls and Boys Wrestling Teams will begin their season in Havre this Friday and Saturday at the Havre Invitational. The Harlem Wildcat and Lady Cat Wrestling teams will be in Cascade at the Badger Invitational this Friday and Saturday. Both Harlem and Chinook are part of the Eastern B/C and will compete at a number of big tournaments throughout the season.

The Holiday Classic is without question the most prestigious of all and will take place, December 16-17 at the CMR Fieldhouse in Great Falls. The Great Falls JV tournament is held alongside the Holiday Classic for those wrestlers that don’t make it to Saturday at the Holiday Classic. The Eastern B/C Divisional will be held in Columbus, February 3-4 in Columbus, Montana. The Class B/C State Wrestling Tournament will be held February 10-11 at the Rimrock Auto Arena at Metra Park in Billings, Montana.

Basketball teams across the state will have a huge adjustment to make as they begin play this winter. This past spring the Montana High School Association approved the implementation of a 35 second shot clock across all classifications.

For quite some time fans, players and coaches of high school basketball have wondered why Montana hadn’t yet adopted a shot clock when so many other states had already done so. That changed this past spring when the idea was adopted by the NFHS and starting with the 2022-23 season, all varsity and sub-varsity games will have a 35-second shot clock.

For many proponents of the idea, the adaptation eliminates the tactics used by some teams to slow the pace of the game down so much that at times the offense can control the ball for more than a minute at a time. This, in their eyes makes for a very boring game to watch and can frustrate teams looking to play an up-tempo style of ball. Proponents often felt like it was an advantage often utilized by teams that wouldn’t be able to compete otherwise.

Cost of implementing the Shot Clock hardware as well as training and finding personnel to operate the system was a concern to many. A survey taken in 2022 to gauge interest from coaches and administrators however showed overwhelming support for the idea. Now the time has come and fans will get their first taste of what games will be like in the coming days.

The Northern C and Northern B generally like fast paced high energy games and most coaches for both the girls and boys teams prefer to play that style of basketball. An up tempo fast paced offense seems like it would make the need for a shot clock irrelevant. Many coaches however have pointed to jump ball situations lasted in the shot clock, balls that don’t hit the rim or passes the are tipped out of bounds as the clock winds down. These scenarios will lead to many more instances where a team is trying to get a shot off in a few seconds rather than occurring just at the end of a quarter or a half.

One thing is for certain, there will be mistakes made, and that is just part of the learning process. In the end the result should be a more exciting style of basketball for fans to enjoy.


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