Warriors running on all cylinders after capturing divisional crown

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    Arlee’s Will Mesteth goes in for a tough layup against Manhattan Christian Saturday. (Kathleen Woodford/Lake County Leader)

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    Arlee’s Phillip Malatare goes in for a layup against Manhattan Christian at the Divisional Tournament in Butte Saturday. (Kathleen Woodford/Lake County Leader)

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    Arlee’s Will Mesteth goes in for a tough layup against Manhattan Christian Saturday. (Kathleen Woodford/Lake County Leader)

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    Arlee’s Phillip Malatare goes in for a layup against Manhattan Christian at the Divisional Tournament in Butte Saturday. (Kathleen Woodford/Lake County Leader)

With admitting his Arlee Warriors boys basketball team is firing on all cylinders, Coach Zanen Pitts still has some things he would like to fix as his team preps for the Class-C Montana State Championship at Montana State University in Bozeman.

“There are still three things that I want fixed,” Pitts said. “Our defensive rotations are crisp as they can be, we are stripping and tipping for the ball with the correct hand and using the correct motion. We had a couple of bad rotations with their hands on stripping the ball and our team has to box out if they want to win state.”

The Warriors made capturing a competitive District and hyper competitive Divisionals look easy as they ran through Manhattan Christian 85-67 to capture the Divisional crown.

“I have emphasized to my team if we are able to win the boards, shoot well and everyone stay focused on rebounding and defensive rotation, a state championship will happen,” Pitts said. “We keep sending kids to watch the college game by learning and trying to steal things from them. We try to see when they attack, read and react on defense. That is the great thing about my boys is that they all like to watch basketball.”

Pitts said he felt like getting ready for the state tournament is like Christmas break all over again.

“It’s kind of like Christmas break again and we have a lot to do,” Pitts said. “I feel we will be ready to drop our guard. We have to work harder and we have to do our parts because the cards are in our hands.”

Right now, the Arlee team doesn’t know who they will be playing but they will be making an estimated 8-hour drive down to the southern divisional tournament to be scouting.

“I try to pull film on them but I don’t know much about them,” Pitts said. “It’s nice to know who you will be playing because you only get one shot and you better not screw it up.”

Pitts read off his roster when he was referring to players he is proud of. He credited Alex Moran for containing Manhattan’s two big players: James Ramirez and Joey Lodeen.

He also said he felt Greg Whitesell isn’t a statistical double take but he does the things that are critical for the Warriors to win.

“Whitesell is content not scoring because all he wants to do is win,” Pitts said. “He never got too tired and executed the ball a lot in his hands. He loves his teammates Phillip Malatare, Al, Ty (Tyler Tanner). He gets them the ball. He is probably our most improved player and I am so proud of everything that he has done.”

Pitts said when he went and watched film, he saw flawless execution.

“When I went back and watched the film areas that we could have done better in, I really think these boys did everything I could ask of them,” Pitts said. “Maybe I could have positioned a couple of kids in different spots in certain situations. We could have easily gotten eight to 12 more points but that was on me and they didn’t know that part was needed.”

Pitts said he had the intuitive sense his team was going to succeed when he entered last week’s practice on Tuesday.

“It was just a really intense practice, everyone was really quiet, and the guys were just ready,” Pitts said. “I finally feel like we are ready. We are obviously going to be get better before the tournament. We will have shot 5,000 shots before our next game.”

Pitts said he is “proud” of his team.

“They are finally getting to the point where they are in the right rotations and they are communicating with each other,” Pitts said. “This team is very close. This team loves each other and they are ready to take on the world together.”

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