My favorite time of the year began earlier today.
Divisional tournaments for both the Western B and Western C girls got underway earlier from Pablo and Butte, respectively.
Tomorrow, the Western B boys, Western C boys, Northwestern A boys and girls, and Southwestern A boys and girls enter the fray as well.
Upon first glance, each tournament bracket offers potentially intriguing matchups. Some won’t occur until the championship, while others will take place as early as the first round. Of course, each game takes on greater importance, as only two teams from each tourney can advance to State.
After countless hours of analyzing and studying each tournament, here are my predictions on who will be moving on after this weekend.
NORTHWESTERN A BOYS
Columbia Falls and Polson proved to be the two best teams in the league this year. The Wildcats and Pirates split the season series, but if a rematch does occur in the championship, I like C. Falls to win.
NORTHWESTERN A GIRLS
Again, Columbia Falls and Polson were the top squads this season. And just like the boys, I like the Wildkats and Lady Pirates to advance to state, but in an upset I’m taking Polson in the title match.
SOUTHWESTERN A BOYS
Corvallis took the league by storm this year, featuring the duo of junior Riley Bradshaw and senior Rodee Anderson (who combine for over 46 points per game). Dillon finished second, but I’m taking the Beavers in the chipper, with Corvallis winning a challenge game to garner the second State berth.
SOUTHWESTERN A GIRLS
So far, I’ve taken the top two teams from each tournament. However, I think an upset is brewing in the Southwestern A girls’ tourney. Dillon enters as the 2 seed, and I think they advance. Here’s the bold prediction, though: top seed Anaconda won’t make it out of divisionals. Instead, Stevensville will advance.
WESTERN B BOYS
This is by far the toughest tournament to gage, as three teams could easily make a case for earning a trip to State. I think the top-seeded Florence Falcons are in. Whoever wins tomorrow’s opening game between Loyola and Bigfork will take the second spot.
WESTERN B GIRLS
Loyola and Bigfork are head and shoulders above everyone else at this point. The Valkyries took round one back in December, but I like the Breakers in the rematch.
WESTERN C BOYS
Even though Charlo stumbled at last week’s 14C District tournament by losing to Arlee in the title game, I think the Vikings break through and grab one of the two spots available. I think Twin Bridges, another team that was upset at Districts, will grab the other berth.
WESTERN C GIRLS
Top to bottom, this tournament is the most even across the board. I could be completely wrong here, but my gut tells me Charlo and Twin Bridges will advance in this tourney, as well.