With Class B district basketball play starting this week, two local teams have their eyes on advancing to the divisional tournament.
District 6B will start its tournament Friday at Hamilton High School, where the Deer Lodge girls basketball team will play as the No. 1 seed.
The District 5B tournament, which begins today at Belgrade high School, will feature Jefferson High as the top seed.
Whitehall’s basketball teams will also be at Belgrade, seeking advancement to the divisional tournament.
Jefferson boys’ coach Clint Layng, who calls his current team the best he has ever coached, will enter the 5B tournament with a first-round bye and won’t play until 3 p.m., Friday.
The Panthers’ first game will be against the winner of the Whitehall-Three Forks contest. That game is scheduled for tonight at 6.
“I feel good going in since we have been playing really well,” Layng said. “The kids are confident and we feel like we can really be a factor in the postseason. We are going to take it one game at a time and not look too far ahead. “
The fourth-seeded Trojans out of Whitehall made it to the Class B state finals last year and have beaten Jefferson both times the two teams met in the regular season.
Jefferson’s girls’ team, ranked No. 2, also earned a bye and will open up semifinal action on Friday. Their 7:30 p.m. tip-off will be against either No. 3 Sweetgrass County or No. 6 Three Forks.
Fifth seed Whitehall will play this afternoon at 3 against No. 4 Townsend. The winner will play top-seed Manhattan at 6 p.m.. Friday.
Two boys and girls teams will advance to the divisionals.
On the girls’ side of the 6B district tournament, top seed Deer Lodge will begin its run at 2 p.m., Friday against Ronan. The Maidens will enter as the No. 4 seed.
Deer Lodge (17-1) will return to the postseason with the expectation of bettering last year’s fourth-place finish at the Class B state tournament.
“This tournament gives us a chance to play in Hamilton’s gym,” Deer Lodge girls’ coach Kirk Walker said. “It also gives us an opportunity to play in a collegiate style gym to see if we can do the things we like to do defensively in a bigger gym.”
Deer Lodge’s boys team will begin its championship quest at 5 p.m., Friday as the No. 3 seed.
The Wardens will play against a second-seeded Florence-Carlton squad in the second of two semifinal games.
Deer Lodge boys coach Curtis Fox said that success will be as easy as putting the ball in the basket.
“That makes the game much easier,” he said. “That’s all we have been doing at practice this week.
“There are really only two plays: Romeo and Juliet and put the darn ball in the basket.”
The championship and third-place games will be played on Saturday.
All four teams from both the boys and girls tournaments advance to divisionals.
at Belgrade High
Byes: Jefferson, Broadwater County
Game 1 — No. 5 Three Forks vs. No. 4 Whitehall, 6 p.m.
Game 2 — No. 6 Manhattan vs. No. 3 Sweetgrass County, 7:30 p.m.
Byes: Manhattan, Jefferson
Game 1 — No. 5 Whitehall vs. No. 4 Townsend, 3 p.m.
Game 2 — No. 6 Three Forks vs. No. 3 Sweetgrass County, 4:30 p.m.
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Game 3 — Whitehall/Three Forks vs. No. 1 Jefferson, 3 p.m.
Game 4 — Sweetgrass/Manhattan vs. No. 2 Townsend, 4:30 p.m.
Game 3 — Townsend/Whitehall vs. No. 1 Manhattan, 6 p.m.
Game 4 — Sweetgrass/Three Forks vs. No. 2 Jefferson, 7:30 p.m.
Game 5 — Loser-out @ Belgrade, 9 a.m.
Game 6 — Loser-out @ Manhattan Christian, 9 a.m.
Game 7 — Consolation championship, 3 p.m.
Game 8 — Championship, 6 p.m.
Game 5 — Loser-out @ Belgrade, 10:30 a.m.
Game 6 — Loser-out @ Manhattan Christian, 10:30 a.m.
Game 7 — Consolation championship, 4:30 p.m.
Game 8 — Championship, 7:30 p.m.
at Hamilton High
Game 1 – No. 4 St. Ignatius vs. No. 1 Loyola, 12 p.m.
Game 3 – No. 3 Deer Lodge vs. Florence-Carlton, 5 p.m.
Game 2 – No. 4 Ronan vs. No. 1 Deer Lodge, 2 p.m.
Game 4 – No. 3 Loyola vs. Florence-Carlton, 7 p.m.
Third Place Game – Semifinal Losers, 12 p.m.
Championship Game – Semifinal winners, 5 p.m.
Third Place Game – Semifinal Losers, 2 p.m.
Championship Game – Semifinal winners, 7 p.m.