The Butte Central boys’ basketball team is looking to follow in the footsteps of the Maroon girls, at least for one day.
The Maroons open the Class A State boys’ basketball tournament at 2 p.m. Thursday against the Columbia Falls Wildcats at the Brick Breeden Fieldhouse in Bozeman.
The game will take place exactly one week after the BC girls beat Columbia Falls in the first round of the Class A State girls’ tournament in Hamilton.
Like the girls’ team, the BC boys face a team that was ranked No. 1 in the Class A throughout the season. They also take on a team coached by Cary Finberg, who leads the boys and girls in Columbia Falls.
Columbia Falls, the defending state champion, captured the Northwestern A Divisional title, and the Wildcats take a 17-3 record into tournament.
Ty Morgan, a 5-foot-11 senior, averages 19 points per game to lead the Wildcats, who have three players averaging in double figures.
Junior Grant Wallace averages 12.1 points per game, while senior Jayce Fagerland who has hit 52 3-point shots on the season, averages 11.1 points.
The Wildcats are looking for their sixth state title since 2003.
The Maroons (13-8) are hunting their first state title since 1992, when head coach Brodie Kelly was a junior at Butte Central.
BC is making its ninth appearance at the state tournament since Kelly took over the program before the 2004-05 season.
Senior Marcus Ferriter leads the Maroons in scoring. He averaged 16.3 points and 7.4 rebounds per game. He is also coming off a huge performance in the Southwestern A Divisional tournament.
Ferriter scored 31 points in BC’s 66-51 win over Hamilton in last week’s challenge game in Hamilton.
Fellow seniors Danny Peoples and Chad Peterson, a pair of 3-point shooters who have been impossible to contain during stretches of the season, also averaged in double figures scoring.
Senior Dalton Sessions and junior point guard Cal Hollow round out the starting lineup for the Maroons, who get key contributions from Nate McGree, Cole Harper, Kyle Harrington and Tanner Kump.
The winner heads to Friday’s 6:30 p.m. semifinal game against the winner of Thursday’s 12:30 p.m. game between Belgrade (15-5) and Laurel (15-6). The loser heads to Friday’s 12:30 p.m. loser-out game.
On the other side of the bracket sits Southwestern A champion Dillon (19-1), whose basketball state title drought dates back all the way to 2012. The Beavers fall 56-47 to Columbia Falls in last year’s title game.
The Beavers face Polson (10-11) at 6:30 p.m.
Senior Jason Ferris is the lone Beaver averaging more than 10 points per game for coach Terry Thomas’ 10-headed attach that features a relentless defense that gives the appearance of seven players on the court at one time.
Justin Ferris, Trae Williams, J.D. Ferris, Parker Love, Tyler Jory, Travis Ackerson, Tanner Haverfield, Nick Huber and Nate Simkins are also key components of the Dillon team whose lone loss is to Class AA Helena High.
The Dillon-Polson winner advances to play Billings Central (15-5) or Havre (14-7) in Friday’s 8 p.m. semifinal.