By Bruce Sayler
Tuesday’s meeting was an update session for Advantage Butte, which held its February gathering in the Butte Plaza Inn.
It was a sparse turnout of members. Dorea Wilmoth, Advantage Butte secretary and delegate for Town Pump Food Stores/Comfort Inn, presided over the meeting.
Treasurer Brad Spear, of Anderson ZurMuehlen and Co., reported $34,654 rests i the Advantage Butte checking account with $25,000 in outstanding commitments.
The group served as host for a football viewing party during the Montana High School Association meetings held last month in the Copper King Inn. Bill Melvin, manager of the Butte Civic Center, said the party was a success, thanks in large part to local business support.
“It couldn’t have gone better,” he said while mentioning several businesses that supplied food, beverages, prizes, services, etc., toward making the event a success. It even drew more memberships for Advantage Butte from the community, Melvin said.
Advantage Butte received special recognition from the MHSA for its support of high school athletics in Montana, Melvin said. The presentation was held at the meetings, as was one for longtime Butte High athletics office manager Pat Powers.
A Copper King Inn representative said the convention center was asked to bid to play host to the 2021 MHSA Meetings. Next year’s are scheduled for Billings.
Discussion brought up the lodging shortages pertaining to the Western A Divisional basketball tournament to be held Thursday through Saturday in Hamilton. Don Peoples Jr., of Butte Central Catholic Schools, said the divisional is on a three-town rotation with Ronan due to play host next year, followed by Butte. The plan was approved by Western A administrators.
Peoples also said a meeting of Western A schools is to be held Wednesday evening in Hamilton and the possible discontinuation of the Northwestern A and Southwestern A district basketball tournaments is expected to be discussed, maybe enacted. He said opponents think teams have to beat the same opponents too many times to continue in postseason under the current plan. He said those in favor of continuing as is like the expanded schedule of more games for teams to play.
Peoples said an alternative plan floated is to advance the top three teams from each the Northwestern A and Southwestern A regular seasons to the Western A Divisional, filling out the bracket with winners of play-in games between fourth and fifth seeds from each conference. The sixth-place finishers in the regular season would be eliminated from the postseason.
The Eastern A, he said, which has a 10-team membership, currently advances everyone to divisional play without any district qualifier.
Melvin brought up a snafu that is occurring with the State Class B tournament originally awarded to Bozeman for next month. Since Montana State will have need to be using its Breeden Fieldhouse facility the same dates, the high school tournament will be moved to Belgrade over a four-day span. The boys will play March 6-8 and the girls will compete March 7-9.
He said if a similar instance were to occur with Adams Center on the University of Montana campus in MIssoula over a state tournament slated for the building, the backup facility would be Hamilton’s Dale Berry Court.
Adding to the Belgrade difficulties for the state B is that Belgrade High is undergoing renovations as it prepares to enter Class AA status next school year.
Melvin said the Civic Center was packed with wrestlers last weekend with the Cyclops Invitational club tournament and the middle school tournament attracting about 1,500 entries. He said the next big item for the Civic Center is the state Class AA tournament, scheduled for March 7-9.
The Southwestern A District basketball tournament was held at the Maroon Activities Center last weekend and Peoples said “if went very well.” He said three of the schools involved don’t enjoy a large fan following, but the crowds were good for the others.
The MAC will play host to the Western C Divisional tourney this weekend with large crowds expected because of Manhattan Christian and Twin Bridges boys’ teams both being undefeated and the Arlee boys being the two-time defending state Class C champions. Arlee has also created national interest with its anti-bullying campaign that has gone viral for about a year.
“We think there might be some national broadcasting here for them,” Peoples said.
Wilmoth read a letter of appreciation from Special Olympics Montana in its looking forward to working with the community on its state basketball tournament in the fall.
J.P. Gallagher, Butte-Silver Bow Parks & Recreation director, said SNoFLINGA was a successful winter festival and drew big turnouts. He said weather caused cancellation of some kids’ activities, but, otherwise, everything went well. He said the Stodden Park project is due to be completed May 20, a few days before the holding of the state Class AA softball tournament on the park’s diamonds. He said the playground is ready for use.
Maria Pochervina of the Butte-Silver Bow Chamber of Commerce said plans for this summer’s Butte 100 mountain bike spectacle are going “swimmingly well” and that a call for volunteers will go out soon.
Wilmoth and Melvin reminded that the Southwest Montana All-Star Classic basketball games are set for March 12 in the MAC. Area high school basketball standouts will participate.
Items headed to the town or area this summer include a national retriever trials in May and June, George Johnson of the Quality Inn, said, and a conference on outdoor recreation, Gallagher said.
The next Advantage Butte meeting is to be held on March 19.