BILLINGS — Postseason basketball is finally in full swing.
Now, it's the Magic City's turn to host a tournament, beginning with the Eastern A Super Divisional basketball tournament starting on Wednesday.
This will be the third year for the Super Divisional, which has been one of the most successful high school basketball tournaments since its creation. The boys and girls brackets will each feature all 10 teams from the Eastern and Central A conferences, with four teams advancing to the state tournaments.
Beginning with the boys, Havre (3-15) and Miles City (5-12) will kick off the tournament with the first game on Wednesday at 9 a.m. at Rimrock Auto Arena at MetraPark. Glendive (6-12) and Sidney (8-10) will play in the second game, which is scheduled for 10:30 a.m.
The winners of the first two games will advance and take on the No. 1 seeds of the tournament in the second half of the day, with the Havre-Miles City winner set to take on Hardin (16-1), the Eastern A's No. 1, at 3:30 p.m. while the winner between Glendive and Sidney will take on Lewistown (15-3), the top seed from the Central A, at 5 p.m.
Hardin began the season with 12 straight wins before losing its lone game of the year, a double-overtime defeat to Billings Central. The Bulldogs ended the season on a four-game winning streak, clinching the top spot out of the East and ending with a 90-62 win over Livingston. Lewistown is catching fire at the perfect time, having won six games in a row — including a win over Livingston last Friday to clinch the top seed at the divisional tournament. The Golden Eagles also defeated Billings Central on Saturday to end the regular season. Lewistown is looking to make the state tournament for the first time since 2002.
Thursday morning will begin with the remaining four teams getting their first tournament action of the week. At 9 a.m. on Thursday, Livingston (12-6), the No. 2 seed from the Central A, will take on the Eastern A's No. 3 seed in Laurel (11-7). The Rangers began the season 11-2 but have gone 1-4 to end the season while Laurel has won four of its last five. At 10:30 a.m., Central (13-5), the East's No. 2 seed, will take on Belgrade (12-6). The Rams have won six of their last seven games while Belgrade has won six of its last eight.
Last year's state representatives from the divisional were Hardin, Central, Belgrade and Laurel. Central is the two-time State A runner-up while Belgrade finished fourth.
The girls tournament will begin with Livingston (5-13) and Glendive (6-12) at noon. The winner will take on Central, the East's No. 1 seed, at 6:30 later on Wednesday. Miles City (8-9) will take on Sidney (0-18) at 1:30 p.m. for a chance to play the Central's No. 1 seed in powerhouse Havre (18-0) at 8 p.m. that same day.
Havre has cruised through the regular season, and is currently the No. 1 team in the 406mtsports.com high school girls basketball rankings. The Blue Ponies have defeated teams across the classification spectrum, and will be looking to get back to the state tournament after being a semifinal team a year ago.
Central has caught on fire as of late. The Rams went undefeated in February, winning six straight games to close out the year and grab the top spot from the Eastern A.
As with the boys, Thursday will begin with the remaining four teams getting their first crack at the tournament. Belgrade (8-10), the No. 2 Central A team, will take on Hardin (14-3), the No. 3 team from the East, at noon. Laurel (10-8), the No. 2 seed from the East, will then play Lewistown (9-9), the Central's No. 3 seed, at 1:30 p.m.
Laurel, Belgrade and Hardin join Havre as the four teams that made the state tournament a year ago, with the Bulldogs being the state runner-up.
The boys divisional championship game is scheduled for 6 p.m. on Saturday while the girls will tip-off at 8 p.m.
The boys State A tournament will be March 1-3 in Bozeman, while the girls will compete March 8-10 in Great Falls.