There’s been a shift in the power of Class C boys’ basketball, as none of the eight teams entered in the 2012 State Tourney were there last year.
Twin Bridges holds southwest Montana’s hopes this weekend, as the Falcons open tournament play Thursday at 2 p.m. against Big Sandy at MetraPark Arena in Billings.
Though the Falcons are new to the tourney this season, a couple players — and the head coach — were on hand in 2009 in the same venue when the Falcons claimed the state title. Cody Pierson and Rob Lott were freshmen, while head coach Brad Elser was an assistant, when Twin Bridges knocked off Rocky Boy 63-61 ina dramatic last-second victory.
While the Falcons weren’t at state last year, the players on the squad are familiar with the pressure of the competition, as they won the State Class C 8-an football title four short months ago.
Much of Twin Bridges showed up for that game, and much of town is in Billings now.
“Twin Bridges has been great as far as fan support,” Elser said. “With the girls going next week it’s tough, but we’ve got a good bunch here. School-wise it’s been hectic, but it’s a good hectic.”
The Falcons take on a Big Sandy squad that relies heavily on a very solid starting five.
“They’ll play the same five all game until they get in foul trouble,” Elser said. “So we’ll try to force them into an up-tempo game. We’ll make them work hard on defense and try and take advantage of that later in the game.”
The Pioneers were runners-up in the Northern C divisional.
Twin Bridges comes in with a bit more depth, as the Falcons can rotate eight players without dropping off, Elser said.
“We’ve got to limit our mistakes and take advantage of our speed,” Elser said. “Then we need to work hard on the offensive end looking for high quality shots.”
In addition to Lott and Pierson, the Falcons have gotten strong play from Jory Chrest, Cole Miotke and post Dalton Puckett. C.J. Cox has given quality minutes off the bench, as has Max Orrin and Mackay Hirst.
In the early Thursday game, Fairview, the top seed from the Eastern C, takes on St. Labre, the runner-up from the Southern C. Fairview lost to Twin Bridges in the state 8-man football title game.
In the 6:30 game, Southern C champion Melstone meets Saco/Whitewater, the runner-up in the Eastern C. The late game pits Northern C titlist Highwood against Noxon, which knocked off Drummond Monday night in a challenge game to earn a trip to Billings.