The Western A boys and girls combined basketball tournament gets underway Thursday morning at the Butte Civic Center and things on the boys' side are going to get intense.  For most of the season, Frenchtown, Hamilton, Dillon and Butte Central have been ranked in the state's top 5 and all believe they have what it takes to win the state championship.  The issue is, they are all not only in the same division, but they are in the same Southwestern A conference.  Most of their combined losses have come to, well, each other.  And all four teams will have to fight through the Northwestern A to get back to Butte for State.  Never an easy task.  It's tournament time.  Things are about to get crazy.  Here is a look at the seedings and first-round pairings:

courtesy of Montana High School Association
courtesy of Montana High School Association


This is a perfect start to the tournament as the Beavers and The WildKats have met previously this year, and the game came down to the buzzer.  The Beavers won on a neutral court, 52-51, very early in the season.  Columbia Falls comes into the game with a 12-6 overall record, 10-2 in the Northwest while the Beavers are 14-4 overall with a 7-3 conference mark and are led by first-year head coach Jeff Edwards.


The Beavers and The Chiefs also are no strangers to each other having also met earlier this year.  This one was not a close game with Hamilton coming out on top by 19.  The Broncs are 16-2 overall with an 8-2 record in the Southwest, their losses coming to Butte Central and Dillon.  The Chiefs are 12-8 overall with a 9-5 mark in conference play.


The Maroons and Vikings have not met this season but there will be a hint of familiarity in the air as Bigfork's head coach is Butte Central alum John Hollow.  Hollow's squad comes into the tournament with a 9-9 overall record, 7-5 in conference.  The Maroons are 15-3 overall, 8-2 in the Southwest.


This game could set the nets on fire.  Browning comes into the nightcap on a 9-game winning streak while Frenchtown has the state's leading scorer in Montana Tech-signee Eli Quinn.  The Indians are 14-4 overall with a 10-2 record in the Northwest while Frenchtown is 13-6 overall, 6-5 in the Southwest.

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