BILLINGS — The Colstrip boys and Three Forks girls will look to continue their unbeaten records as 16 teams descend on Rimrock Auto Arena at MetraPark for the Southern B Divisional.
Tournament action starts Thursday, and four boys teams and four girls teams will advance to next week’s Class B state tournament in Missoula.
Colstrip’s boys return their entire team from a year ago, and the year of maturity and experience has paid dividends for the Colts (19-0), who played some close games at last year’s divisional but ultimately did not make the state tournament. They will open the tournament on Thursday against at 9 a.m. against Three Forks (16-4), which won 10 games in a row before losing to Big Timber in the District 5B championship.
Other first-round boys games Thursday: Roundup vs. Manhattan at 10:30 a.m.; Big Timber vs. St. Labre at 3 p.m.; and Lodge Grass vs. Joliet at 5 p.m. Lodge Grass is the only team in this year’s divisional that advanced to the state tournament last year.
The girls from Three Forks finished third at state last season, and with a large returning contingent, were expected to do as well, if not better, this season. A last-season volleyball injury to starter Talyn Pitcher – she injured her ACL, leaving her unavailable for basketball – seemed to throw the Wolves a curve, but they’ve responded well.
In forging a 20-0 record, only twice has a team played within single digits of the Wolves. That team was Townsend, both times, and the Bulldogs open the girls’ portion of the divisional with a noon game against 3B champion Colstrip.
The rest of Thursday’s schedule for the girls: Red Lodge vs. Jefferson, 1:30 p.m.; Three Forks vs. Forsyth, 6:30 p.m.; and St. Labre vs. Roundup, 8 p.m.
The Fillies entered the divisional unbeaten last season, and they start this divisional with a 19-1 mark. Colstrip, Three Forks and Red Lodge are the returning divisional teams that made it to state a year ago.
Saturday’s championship games are scheduled for 6:30 p.m. (boys) and 8 p.m. (girls).