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State tournaments begins for two local teams

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POLSON – It is state basketball tournament time for the Class A Polson Pirates and Class B Arlee Warriors as both teams head off to their respective class tournaments that begin at the end of the week.

After a two year hiatus from state tournament action, the 13-9 Polson Pirates re-enter tournament play on Thursday morning as they match up in first round action against the state’s top ranked Class A team the 21-0 Hardin Bulldogs starting at 10:30 a.m. at the MetraPark First Interstate Arena in Billings.

The Pirates secured a fourth seed state tournament bracket spot after finishing 2-2 in Western A Divisional tournament play in Ronan two weekends ago, while the Bulldogs clinched their fifth straight State A tournament appearance in the Eastern A Divisional against Billings Central.

After qualifying for state in Class C five consecutive seasons in a row, winning back-to-back state championships and twice placing as state runners-up, the Arlee Warriors this season exemplified the old adage “It’s not how you start that’s important, but how you finish.”

Playing under a new head coach and in a new conference as they made a transitional change from Class C into a larger Class B, the Warriors struggled through out the better part of the year going 0-8 in conference play, while finishing the season with a 6-10 overall record. 

After slipping into the Western B Divisional Tournament by defeating Florence in overtime 86-79 in a District 6B play-in game, Arlee went on a three game win streak during the divisional tournament in Hamilton to claim the Western B Divisional boys title.

On Thursday at 1:30 p.m., the Warriors will play in their sixth straight post season state tournament as they face the 15-8 Rocky Boy Stars in the opening round of the State B Boys Basketball Tournament at Butte Civic Center in Butte.

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