Lodge Grass vs. Hardin (copy)

D.C. Stewart is just one of many reasons why defending state champion Lodge Grass has remained unbeaten and holds on to the No. 1 spot in the latest Class B high school boys basketball rankings.

BOZEMAN — It's never too early to peek ahead at potential state-tournament showdowns for high school basketball, and the best places to start are with the top-heavy Class B and Class C boys.

In Class B, defending champion Lodge Grass (7-0) still holds sway as an unbeaten at No. 1, but Three Forks (7-0) and Lame Deer (8-0) are keeping pace in this week's 406mtsports.com high school basketball rankings.

Circle the date: Jan. 15 and Feb. 15, the dates of showdowns between the Runnin' Indians with Damon Gros Ventre and the Morning Stars with Journey Emerson.

Gros Ventre has a season high of 46 points Tuesday against Huntley Project. Emerson scored 61 against Poplar

Class C boasts five unbeatens led by Manhattan Christian (8-0), with Froid-Lake (9-0) overpowering and Broadview-Lavina (9-0), Broadus (8-0) and Lustre Christian (8-0) teams to keep an eye on. No team has come closer than 22 points against Manhattan Christian. Still, don't sleep on Belt (6-1), Bridger (8-1) or Fairview (7-1).

Class A also is potent at the top, though Lewistown (7-0) has been a cut above. Chasing with legitimatre title aspirations are Butte Central (7-0), Hamilton (7-1) and Billings Central (6-2).

A two-team race seems to be shaping up in Class AA between Helena Capital (5-0) and Bozeman (5-1), with the Bruins earning bragging rights 56-50 in their first go-around. 

On the girls side, Class B No. 1 Jefferson (9-0) fended off another stern challenge, this time from defending state champion and fifth-ranked Big Timber (6-2).

On the Panthers' heels are formidable squads from Colstrip (7-1), Bigfork (8-0), Malta (6-1), Red Lodge (7-1) and Thompson Falls (7-0) as they jockey for berths in a tournament likely to have no pushovers. Jefferson also owns a win over Colstrip, which handed Big Timber its other loss.

Manhattan Christian (8-0) continues to hold the top spot in Class C, though barely after rallying for a 40-38 win over No. 3 Shields Valley (6-1) — the Eagles' first win of fewer than 14 points. Between them is Roy-Winifred (7-0). Belt (5-1) and Saco-Whitewater-Hinsdale (9-1) are lurking. 

Class A is a merry-go-round, with Havre claiming the top spot after handing No. 2 Hardin (7-1) its lone defeat. Billings Central, which fell to Hardin in the season opener, sits next with two losses, albeit one to No. 3 Class AA Billings Skyview. Only Dillon (6-0) remains unbeaten.

As with the boys, Class AA could be shaping up as a two-team affair with No. 1 Billings West (6-0) and No. 2 Missoula Hellgate (4-0), though the gap to Skyview (5-1) and Kalispell Flathead (6-0) is slim.

High school

406mtsports.com rankings

Games through Jan. 10

BOYS

Class AA

1. Helena Capital (5-0)

2. Bozeman (5-1-0)

3. Bozeman Gallatin (4-2)

4. Great Falls (4-2)

5. Missoula Sentinel (3-3)

Class A

1. Lewistown (7-0)

2. Butte Central (7-0)

3. Hamilton (7-1)

4. Billings Central (6-2)

5. Glendive (6-2)

Class B

1. Lodge Grass (7-0)

2. Three Forks (7-0)

3. Lame Deer (8-0)

4. Columbus (7-1)

5. St. Ignatius (6-0)

6. Florence-Carlton (5-2)

7. Wolf Point (5-1)

8. Rocky Boy (5-2)

9. Manhattan (5-2)

10. Roundup (4-1)

Class C

1. Manhattan Christian (8-0)

2. Froid-Lake (9-0)

3. Broadview-Lavina (9-0)

4. Broadus (8-0)

5. Lustre Christian (8-0)

6. Belt (6-1)

7. Bridger (8-1)

8. Fairview (7-1)

9. Fort Benton (6-1)

10. Harlowton-Ryegate (7-1)

GIRLS

Class AA

1. Billings West (6-0)

2. Missoula Hellgate (4-0)

3. Billings Skyview (5-1)

4. Kalispell Flathead (6-0)

5. Butte (4-1)

Class A

1. Havre (6-1)

2. Hardin (7-1)

3. Billings Central (6-2)

4. Dillon (6-0)

5. Browning (5-1)

Class B

1. Jefferson (9-0)

2. Colstrip (7-1)

3. Bigfork (8-0)

4. Malta (6-1)

5. Big Timber (6-2)

6. Red Lodge (7-1)

7. Thompson Falls (7-0)

8. Anaconda (6-2)

9. Eureka (4-2)

10. Wolf Point (6-2)

Class C

1. Manhattan Christian (8-0)

2. Roy-Winifred (7-0)

3. Shields Valley (6-1)

4. Belt (5-1)

5. Saco-Whitewater-Hinsdale (9-1)

6. Box Elder (7-1)

7. Twin Bridges (7-1)

8. Plentywood (8-1)

9. Charlo (8-1)

10. North Star (7-1)

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