March 1-3, 2018
Butte Civic Center
Eight Class C boys’ basketball teams from around Montana will descend on Butte this weekend looking to be crowned state champion. It should get interesting featuring half of the field from last year's tournament, including the defending champions from Arlee.
Undefeated Arlee (23-0) comes in as the defending state champions and have been finalists in each of the past two tournaments. It’s Arlee’s fourth appearance in a row at the state tournament and they certainly have some experience led by seniors Will Mesteth and Philip Malatare.
Other qualifier: Last year's runner-up Manhattan Christian (22-3) also makes a return trip. The Eagles put up a fight against the Warriors in the divisional semifinal, losing by 9 points, the closest a Class C team has gotten to the defending champs all year. Because they're on opposite sides of the bracket, the two could be on another collision course for the state championship and both have had their eyes on this potential rematch all season long.
Both teams from the East make their return to the state tournament as well. Scobey (21-0) earned third place last season as the top seed from the East and the Spartans repeated their divisional championship last week with a one-point win over Fairview.
Other qualifier: The Fairview Warriors (22-2) had to earn their return trip to the state tournament with a challenge game victory against Westby-Grenora.
Undefeated Heart Butte (24-0) may end up being the story of the tournament. Last weekend’s Northern C title was Heart Butte’s first in 12 years. They’re looking for their first state title since 2001, when a team led Michael Chavez, who went on to play for the University of Montana, helped the Warriors to back-to-back titles.
Other qualifier: Belt (18-7) had to defeat beat Sunburst in a challenge game to move to the state tournament. The Huskies were state champions in 2015.
Park City (20-3) hasn’t won a boys’ state championship since 1970. They’ll have a chance to change that this season. The Panthers were the surprise of Class C, handing Melstone their first lost of the season in the semifinals. Park City then went on to beat Bridger handily in the finals, 61-39.
Other qualifier: Melstone (23-1), meanwhile, was able to scratch their way back into the state tournament with a 52-36 win over Bridger on Monday.
The Heart Butte Warriors have been stranded in hotels for all but one day since Feb. 10, as wind and snow on the Blackfeet Reservation has prevented them from returning home.
Contact Jordan at email@example.com or on Twitter @jordyhansen