The Arlee High School boys basketball teams have both cemented themselves as perennial favorites to capture the Western Class-C District that will be held Feb. 16-18 at at Salish Kootenai College’s Joe McDonald Gymnasium.
Since a 71-67 loss to the then No. 1 rated team in the Class-C state of Montana, the Warriors have gone through Coach Zane Pitts “basketball school.”
“It was good having a loss headed into break and we are going to fix those areas that are weak,” Pitts said in an interview shorty after the loss to Plains. “I am challenging players to improve on what is the weakest part of the game. If a player who usually averages one rebound a game can get five rebounds in a game, or a player that averages one assist in a game can increase his number of assists, that can be the big difference in a game decided by 10 points.”
The Warriors answered Pitts’ challenge and they won their remaining 12 games including avenging the loss to the then No. 1 ranked team in the state with a 82-59 victory at their place.
The Warriors and the Horsemen are the clear-cut favorites headed into the Divisional and perhaps the scariest thing for Arlee’s opponents is Pitts has admitted several times there is more work to be done.
The Warriors have a loaded roster with senior Tyler Tanner and two top juniors, Will Mesteth and Phillip Malatare, who will be back next season.
Pitts admits there is still work to do.
“There is still about 15 things that I would like to fix,” Pitts said.
The Warriors increased their team’s confidence with a 74-27 victory over Charlo in their Feb. 10 regular-season home finale.
They followed up their regular-season finale with an 89-40 victory over what Charlo Coach Gale Decker referred to as a “much improved” squad.
The Charlo boys basketball team, a team that is in the middle of the conference’s pack, continues to work on its erratic offense if they are to survive and advance in this stacked conference. According to their Coach Gale Decker, they have to improve their offense to compliment their existing ability to crash the boards on both ends of the court.
Currently, the Vikings are averaging 30 rebounds a game and Decker would like to see the points production increase as they head into tournament play.
For Decker, his “magic number” for offensive production is currently 55 points per game.
Scarlets on a roll headed into Districts
The Arlee Scarlets recovered after losing their first three games of the season to Florence-Carlton, Box Elder, and Rocky Boy.
The Scarlets are certainly playing their best basketball riding an 11-game win streak headed into postseason play.
In a recent interview, Stockton expressed a growing confidence as his team prepares to head into district play.
“I think the girls are pretty confident right now and as we’ve mentioned at the beginning of the year, our guards Noelle West, Ashley Tanner and Nellie Desjarlais have been filling in those guard spots from our graduating seniors,” Stockton said. “They have all been stepping up these past few weeks. Two of the three teams in District challenged the girls to rebound this weekend.
Stockton and company will have to face a formidable opponent in Charlo, a team that challenged their win streak but couldn’t generate enough points in the fourth quarter.
“After Charlo, I felt like we did a pretty poor job of rebounding against them,” Stockton said. “Ever since that game, I challenged them to make sure we are getting every rebound. We got many second chance baskets in our game this weekend. Our posts really answered that challenge by grabbing six rebounds apiece and a ton of rebounds in the high school.”
The Charlo girls team that is currently 9-7 has come on strong in the latter part of the season. The Lady Vikings have captured four consecutive victories against Noxon, Darby, Granite, Plains, and Hot Springs before falling to the Scarlets 47-24.