COLUMN: Basketball recap

Feb. 28—In many ways, it was awesome to watch the Class C and B Divisional tournaments this past weekend in Pablo and Frenchtown.

It was great to see basketball played at such a high level.

Let's be honest, and I won't name names, there are some games during the regular season where the biggest winner was Alberton's girls ... and they didn't even field a team this year.

I have to admire the folks at Alberton for what was actually a courageous reason for not putting a girls team out on the court after their two best players were out for the season with injuries before it even started, and low turnout numbers would have created some awkward situations with forfeits due to lack of able bodied players.

They will no doubt be back.

Then we have the other end of the spectrum in the Western Divisions of B and C ball.

Some teams appear almost "blessed" when they take to the hardwoods.

It's as if they had, well, divine intervention on their side.

Prayer works. It may also be able to play basketball.

In the four championship games played Saturday evening between the two tournaments which sent finalists to the State championships two weekends from now (March 6-9), teams with religious affiliations were involved in three of those title match ups and won two of them.

And as usual, Manhattan Christian's boys were at the center of the holy discussion, no cursing of course, when they breezed through the tournament on their way to another championship and the number one seed coming out of the West after they routed Harrison 63-38.

The Eagles were "above all others" in skill and height, with several players over the magic six-foot mark. Heading off to the state tourney in Great Falls next week, the Christian boys will bring a 22-1 record to the Electric City, their only loss of the season coming at the hands of Class B Manhattan, which is currently 19-1 on the year.

The list continues.

Missoula's Loyola Sacred Heart, swept through the B boys tourney at Salish Kootenai College in Pablo, winning the championship via a 73-20 drubbing of Anaconda.

Holy Cow.

The Loyola girls team also made it to the championship final in the B tourney, but they fell to the Anaconda Lady Copperheads (snakes?) 64-59.

And the only team to give the Manhattan boys a "close" game was St. Regis' Tigers. St. Regis is a public school, but is that score a coincidence?

Now before anyone starts marching outside with signs and banners, please understand I am only kidding with this whole thing. As I often say, I'm the funniest guy I know.

These winning teams are the result of dedication, hard work and outstanding coaching and school support.

I know many whispers circulate through the crowd each year that schools like MC "recruit" players for more than their religious convictions. They are, after all, not limited by geographical boundaries like the other schools. Their pool from which to choose players is much bigger than say, Troy.

And who's to say a small town like Manhattan, 2024 census population listed at 2,118 residents, cannot produce a public school and a Christian school with enough talent to produce a combined 41-2 record?

It could happen.

Maybe it was additional "guidance" that the B field also included Mission High school from nearby St. Ignatius, Montana.

And yes, the girls team was very good.

At the end of the opening round game between Manhattan Christian and Drummond, which MC won 62-35, something very cool happened that made me see that involvement and success by the non-public schools was a really good thing in today's world.

Players from both teams linked arms and formed a giant prayer circle at mid-court. The action prompted a round of applause from players and fans who had just watched a really good team beat another playoff caliber squad.

This was an act of sportsmanship that crossed the boundaries of believers and non-believers. This was an act of togetherness extraordinaire.

Divine intervention?

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