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What Caught My Eye - Postseason Edition

What Caught My Eye - Postseason Edition

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AA Girls

- Bozeman continued their winning ways, finishing the conference season 11-1 and earning the league's bye into the state tournament. Great Falls CMR surged down the stretch, grabbing the second seed. The Lady Rustlers will host seventh seeded Great Falls High Friday night in playoff action. Butte fell to the third spot with their loss to Bozeman last Thursday. This Thursday, they get a visit from Billings Skyview, who finished the season as the six seed. Lastly, Billings West leap-frogged Billings Senior to grab the fourth seed. These two teams were almost locked into playing each other for a state tournament berth, but Thursday's game will now be played on West's floor instead of the Lady Broncs'.

- In the Western AA, the standings received quite the shake up following Thursday's games. Four teams - Helena Capital, Helena High, Missoula Big Sky, and Missoula Sentinel - were within a game of each other for the league's top seed. On Saturday, Capital knocked off Big Sky, clinching the playoff bye for the Lady Bruins. Sentinel topped Helena, locking the two in a tie for second. The Lady Spartans won the tiebreakers and get Kalispell Flathead on Thursday. Helena draws sixth seeded Kalispell Glacier, and Big Sky will host Missoula Hellgate in the four-five match-up on Friday.

A Girls

- The big surprise for the "A" girls divisional tournaments has to be Butte Central beating Livingston in the Central A championship. Livingston entered the game with a perfect conference record and now must play Havre in a challenge game on Monday for a state tournament berth.

- The other three divisions went according to plan with the favorites - Anaconda (Southwestern A), Sidney (Eastern A), and Columbia Falls (Northwestern A) - winning their respective conference crowns.

B Girls

- The only "B" girls in action were those in the Western "B" division. Missoula Loyola topped Bigfork in the championship, earning the division's top seed for the state tournament March 11-13. Eureka, meanwhile, upended Florence and Valley Christian on Saturday to set up a Monday challenge game with Bigfork to determine the division's second seed.

C Girls

- The Eastern C and Southern C will play their divisional tournaments this upcoming weekend, but the Northern and Western divisions crowned their champions last weekend. In the North, Winifred-Roy and Belt met Saturday night in the highly anticipated match-up of state title hopefuls. The Lady Outlaws pulled out the narrow victory, eliminating a possible challenge game (Belt beat third-place Winnett-Grass Range in the tournament's first round). Twin Bridges rolled through the Western C with a 24-point win over Seeley-Swan, a 20-point win over fifth ranked Hot Springs (according to the Associated Press polls), and a 30-point win over Charlo in the division championship. Charlo faces Drummond in a challenge game Monday night.

AA Boys

- Billings West and Great Falls CMR squared off in the weekend's biggest game Friday night, and what a game it was! The Bears edged by the Rustlers in overtime, earning themselves the Eastern AA's top seed and the playoff bye. The Rustlers now get a home date with Butte Friday night in the two-seven game. Billings Senior also played a big game Friday night...on the road at Bozeman. The Broncs emerged victorious, grabbing the league's three seed, drawing Great Falls High on Friday. Bozeman, meanwhile, will get a visit from Billings Skyview in the four-five match-up.

- Entering the weekend, it looked like Kalispell Flathead could move from their fourth spot, but I didn't expect them to climb to third. The Braves knocked off Kalispell Glacier Friday night to move into the third spot and earn a playoff date with Missoula Hellgate on Thursday. Glacier still gets a home playoff game, but now gets the tougher match-up of Helena High on Thursday in the four-five game. Second seeded Helena Capital draws number seven Missoula Big Sky, while Missoula Sentinel gets the playoff bye.

A Boys

- The "A" boys completed their divisional tournaments Saturday night (excluding challenge games) as well. The big surprise here? Laurel suffering their first conference loss of the season in the championship to rival Billings Central. The Locomotives now must make the trip to Miles City to face Glendive in Monday's challenge game to determine the division's second state tournament representative.

- Butte Central topped Browning in the Central A championship in what I thought was a minor upset. Dillon grabbed an overtime championship win over Corvallis in a match-up of the Southwestern A's top two teams, and Columbia Falls coasted through the Northwestern A, as expected.

B Boys

- No huge surprises in the "B" ranks, with chalk mostly holding suit. Rocky Boy (#1 in the last Associated Press polls), Huntley Project (#6), and Florence (#5) each earned conference titles in the Northern B, Southern B, and Western B, respectively. Rocky Boy will be joined at state by Shelby and Wolf Point. Shepherd and Columbus (who upset Three Forks in the first round) will join Huntley Project. And Missoula Loyola will be the West's second team after beating Plains in a challenge game. The biggest surprise of the tournaments? Bigfork falling in loser-out action Friday morning to Plains.

C Boys

- The story from class "C" has to be top-ranked Winifred not advancing out of the Northern division. They lost in the second round to, eventual division champion, Power, and then lost the next morning to Belt to get eliminated from state tournament contention. Power will be joined at state by Big Sandy, who upended Chinook in Saturday's challenge game.

- Drummond didn't have much trouble getting to the Western C championship, posting a 17-point win over Gardiner and a 22-point win over Sheridan in the first two rounds. Shields Valley gave them a bigger test in the final, but the Trojans prevailed with a five-point victory. Shields Valley plays a challenge game Monday night with Arlee.

- In the East, Culbertson played two close games in the first two rounds, before advancing to the championship. Once there, though, the Cowboys rolled by Lustre Christian, earning an 18-point win. The Lions face Circle in a Monday challenge game.

- And in the South, Northern Cheyenne is picking up momentum heading into the state tournament. They played St. Labre for the third time this season in the division championship, and got their first win over the Braves to earn the South's top seed. St. Labre will play Joliet (who battled back to win the consolation game after losing by 19 to Wibaux in the first round) in Monday's challenge game. 


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