District 8C Tournament action begins at high noon tomorrow

Tri-City’s Hayden Heilig scores on a layup against Centerville on Friday in Hobson.      Photo by Doreen Heintz

By: 
Doreen Heintz
Sports Editor

After a one-year hiatus, the District 8C Boys’ and Girls’ Basketball Tournament returns to Lewistown. The District 8C Tournament, which features seven girls’ teams and seven boys’ teams, begins at the Fergus High School Fieldhouse on Thursday with six games on the docket.
As has been the case for the past three years, the Belt boys’ and girls’ teams come in as the conference champions and will likely leave the tournament as district champs. The Belt boys did not win their–– conference championship this year until the final game on Saturday in Denton. Denton-Geyser-Stanford defeated the Huskies on their home court early in the season and held on to first place in the conference until the Huskies manhandled the Bearcats, 64-46, on Saturday. Both teams finished the conference season with identical 11-1 records.
Meanwhile the Lady Huskies of Belt cruised to another conference championship with a 12-0 conference mark. Currently, the Lady Huskies are on track to win another Class C state championship.
“I think it could be a dog fight this year for the teams seeded two through six at the tournament,” said Centerville Coach Chris Daniels. “It might come down to which team matches up better with another team.”
His Centerville girls ended the season with 7-5 conference mark. The Tri-City girls also ended up with a 7-5 mark. Centerville got the third seed, while Tri-City has a four seed and a bye in the first round of the tournament. The Lady Titans will then face the winner of the Belt versus Geraldine-Highwood (0-12) game in semi-final action on Friday.
The conference matchup between Centerville and Tri-City on Friday night showed just how well the two teams matchup against each other. The Lady Titans came away with a 46-44 win in the barn-burner.
In the early going on Friday, it was all Lady Titans. They jumped to an 11-1 lead in the first quarter and led 11-6 at the end of the first quarter.
Tri-city continued to lead in the second quarter, although the Lady Miners crept closer and closer. At one point, Centerville got within 1 point of the Lady Titans, 14-13, but Tri-City’s Kristen Vincent hit back-to-back 2-point field goals to stretch the lead back to 18-13. After Centerville added two points from the free-throw line, Tri-City scored 5 more points to take a 25-17 lead at half time.
Centerville started the third period with a 3-point basket from Kenadee Chartier. The Lady Miners began working the ball inside to 6-3 Cecilia Vielle and soon the Lady Titans found themselves in foul trouble. With Devyn Hughes and Brianna Bergum both on the bench with four fouls each, Centerville scored 20 points in the third period to take a 37-31 lead into the fourth quarter.
Sami Connerton opened the fourth quarter with a layup for Tri-City. A short time later, Connerton stole the ball and was fouled on her way to score. She converted both free throws to cut the Lady Miner lead to 35-37. With the score 42-37 in favor of Centerville, Bergum scored off an assist from Connerton. The quick Connerton got another steal and followed with a layup to cut the Centerville lead to 42-41.
Coach Daniels called a quick Centerville timeout with 2:36 left in the contest, but the momentum had swung to the Lady Titans. Claire Stevenson’s field goal put Tri-City back in the lead at 43-42. Two free throws by Chloe Derks gave the Lady Titans 2 more points. After another timeout at the 1:04 mark, the Lady Miners were forced to foul in an attempt to get the ball back. Vincent made one of two free throws to put Tri-City by 4 points, 46-42. Centerville fouled again, but Vincent missed both free throws. Centerville called another timeout, but threw the ball away after the timeout. Connerton was fouled and missed both free throws with only two ticks on the clock. During another timeout, Centerville set up a play to throw the ball long for a possible last second shot. Unfortunately the Lady Miners could not get the ball into the basket before the horn sounded.
Connerton led a balanced-scoring attack with 14 points. Vincent added 12 points and Derks had 9 more.
“I was very happy with how the girls fought back after falling behind in the third quarter,” said Tri-City Coach Roger Derks.
Derks also looks for the district tournament to be a good battle for three Northern C Divisional Tournament spots.
“I think anything can happen come tournament time,” added Derks.
Derks would like to get Reilly Allik of Judith Gap back this week. He explained Allik suffered a concussion at the first practice after Christmas.
“She has been in concussion protocol since then,” Derks said. “She is getting very close to being released to play again. I just hope that it is this week.”
Derks knows how hard it will be to upset Belt on Friday night.
“I just told the girls we just have to win two on Saturday,” he said.

Roy-Winifred has second seed
Roy-Winifred ended the regular season with a 9-3 conference mark. The Lady Outlaws will face six-seed Denton-Geyser-Stanford (2-10) in a 1:30 p.m. game on Thursday. The Lady Outlaws’ only three conference losses came against Belt twice and Centerville once.
Co-Coaches Marietta Boyce and Mauri Ellness will have their Lady Outlaws ready to play. Last year, Roy-Winifred finished third at the district tournament and then went on to finish third at the divisional tournament. This year’s squad is looking to move up a spot at the divisional tournament to secure a bid to the Class C State Tournament.
The other first-round matchup on Thursday for the girls is the contest between Centerville and Winnett-Grass Range (5-7). Don’t let the 5-7 conference record of the Lady Rams fool you. The team has been playing very well over the past few weeks. They only lost to Roy-Winifred by a single point on Saturday in Winnett. Long-time Head Coach Vic Westphal will have his team ready for tournament action.

First-round boys’ matchups
After three first-round girls’ games at the Fieldhouse, the boys take the court at 4:30 p.m. with Belt facing seven seed Winnett-Grass Range. The Rams did not earn their first conference win until two weeks ago against Geraldine-Highwood, but blew away Roy-Winifred on Saturday in Winnett, 40-20. Winnett-Grass Range could not have picked a better time to be playing its best basketball of the season. The Rams finished with a 2-10 conference mark.
Second seed DGS faces six seed Roy-Winifred. The Bearcats need to regroup after blow-out losses to Belt and the Fergus JV team this past weekend. Roy-Winifred is probably one of the most improved teams in the conference this year. The Bearcats cannot afford to look past the Outlaws or they might be playing Friday afternoon in loser-out competition rather than Friday night in a semi-final contest.
The final boys’ game of the first round has third seed Centerville (7-5) facing fifth seed Geraldine-Highwood (3-9) at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday. Fourth seed Tri-City (5-7) has a bye in the first round.
Friday action begins at noon with two loser-out contests. Beginning at 3 p.m., there will be four semifinal contests on Friday. The complete brackets for the District 8C Tournament can be found on page 19.
 

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