“Anything can happen at tournament time.” It’s an old cliche that still holds some truth as nobody could have scripted the District 9 Tournament last week in Mandan. The fifth seed team ended up playing for the championship. The first place seed, which went undefeated in the regular season district schedule, was forced to fight for its life.
No matter what happens after 32 minutes on the court, Michael Bergstrom always has the two same words to describe his team – hard working. The head coach of the Center-Stanton girls basketball team hasn’t had the highest ranked team this season, but he admits his team has the most heart.
If anyone wants to question the level of competition in District 9, they only need to look at the battle raging for the seeds in the boys basketball district tournament. Last week New Salem clinched the regular-season championship but even their coach Rick Sturn acknowledged that any one of the top five teams in the race could come away with the wins when it counts.
For Center-Stanton New Year’s has its own tradition, a big match up against even bigger Beulah. When the two non-conference teams match up at the beginning of each new calendar year, no one leaves the gym without a fast heart rate.
Some wins are sweeter than others. With the storied past of teams that come out of the Center-Stanton and Hazen programs, the two town’s proximity creates a natural rivalry. So the Wildcats took no small satisfaction in rallying from a four-point halftime deficit to win 67-62 in Hazen.
It’s been nine months since the Center-Stanton boys basketball team waved their Wildcat colors on the hardwood. Although a different combination of players opened the 2009-10 season last Friday, a few remnants of last year’s squad still remained.