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View from the sidelines


Arlee may have won another State C boys basketball title last week but, as it turns out, that may be only the second most important thing they have accomplished this season.

Perhaps the biggest victory for coach Zanen Pitts and his determined boys was their incredible success at spreading the message of about the growing suicide problem on their Flathead Indian Reservation. They shared their poignant message of hope in the face of tragedy in two videos they produced late this season.

A suicide several weeks earlier by a teen who played basketball at a rival school on the reservation, on top of a series of such deaths over the past few years, some in the Arlee area with people that the team knew and loved, seemed to spur the Warriors into action.

Realizing there was much more that needed to be said about the subject after releasing the first shorter video, Pitts and his players joined team media producer Jordan Lefler in producing a much longer, more dramatic video about suicide a few weeks ago.

Making a statement that many more people would hear, the Warriors used their players taking turns talking to the camera to convey a positive vision of hope in an incredibly well-done 3-minute long video. Hoping to reach more folks, the team ended up putting together a statement that reached many, many more and, in fact has gone viral on the Internet, recording well over 800,000 views as of early this week.

Although winning a second straight State C title and running their winning streak to an amazing 48 games and counting is quite an accomplishment, the real long-lasting contribution the 2017-2018 Arlee Warriors made to their people on the reservation, and to people everywhere, is immeasurable.

Well done Warriors, you have certainly proved your championship mettle not only with your incredible play, but also with your heartfelt actions, regardless of how well you performed on the court these past few years.

For the record, the Warriors defeated the Manhattan Christian Eagles 66-58 in the State C boys championship game in Butte Saturday. It was the second straight year that the Warriors had defeated their Western C rivals for the state title, and completed a spotless 26-0 season for Pitts and crew.

Melstone, which had lost to Scobey on a controversial last-second shot in the first round Thursday, battled their way back to land in the consolation game. Ironically, they faced Scobey again in that game and came away with a 46-39 win to claim the State C third place trophy.

In the Class A boys tournament in Bozeman, the Hamilton Broncs rode into town with a 23-0 record but lost 64-37 to Billings Central in the first round.

Undaunted by that stunning loss, the Broncs came back through the losers bracket, defeating Belgrade Friday and Lewistown Saturday morning to earn a date with Western A rival in the consolation game. The Broncs won that game 74-69 to win the State A third place shiner.

Hardin defeated Billings Central 47-43 in the State A championship tilt.

Continuing Montana’s high school tournament season, the combined boys and girls Class B state tournaments will be held in Missoula, at the University of Montana and Missoula Sentinel High School, this Thursday through Saturday, at the same time the State C girls will take the court at the Civic Center in Butte.


Twelve years ago this week, the Western B champion Thompson Falls Blue Hawks played in the State B tournament at Four Seasons Arena in Great Falls.

The Hawk boys won one of three games in Great Falls to finish the season with a fine 19-7 record, but that was not the real story of the season for Thompson Falls and coach Chadd Laws.

The real story of that season for Thompson Falls and its fans was told the week before in Hamilton when and where the Hawks won Thompson Falls’ first Western B divisional championship in 40 years, since way back in 1966.

The Blue Hawks staged a late-game comeback to defeat rival Mission 59-57 in the Western B title game (one week after edging those same Bulldogs 56-54 in the District 8B championship game). The Hawks had reached the chipper by beating Florence 76-53 in the first round and then outlasting Sanders County rival Plains 82-78 in a riveting double overtime thriller Friday night in the semifinals.

The players for those 2005-2006 Hawks were Evan Hopkins, Nate Pavlik, Nate Bache, Erik Gilbert, Andrew Clark, Casey Bell, Brian Schenavar, Matt Donaldson, Brandon Damskos and Dallas VonHeeder.


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