When the Columbia Falls boys bumped Laurel off the championship track in Friday’s State A semifinal, Locomotives coach Patrick Hansen Jr. knew exactly who would win Saturday’s title game, even before C. Falls had an opponent line up for the finals.
The cards all pointed to the Wildcats, or at least Laurel’s bizarre pattern of semifinal state losses did. Including this weekend, the Locos have lost in four straight semis, each time the team they’ve lost to winning it all.
Like clockwork, the luck of the Laurel loss held true Saturday night when the Cats won their fifth championship in program history with a 56-47 victory over Dillon.
“Hopefully this is the lucky token for Columbia Falls that beat us this time and good luck to them tomorrow,” Hansen said after his team came up short in a semifinal again, losing 57-48.
There’s some magic in there somewhere, so let’s review the tape.
Laurel won a State A championship in 2010 and hasn’t stopped fielding strong state contenders since then. Some unknown deity has higher plans for them, though.
“The next year we lose in the semifinals to Columbia Falls,” Hansen remembers, recalling his team’s repeat bid coming up short in a 61-38 loss to the 2011 champion Wildcats. “They win state.
“The next year after that we lose to Dillon in the semifinals,” he continued, picking at his team’s 45-39 loss to the eventual 2012 title-winning Beavers. “They win state.
“Then last year we lose to Stevensville by two (in the semis),” Hansen finished, though mis-remembered slightly from Laurel’s 52-49 loss to 2013’s champs. “And of course, they win state.”
So for all you state hopefuls out there in Class A, you know the way to a crown. Just check the opening bracket Thursday morning and hope your team lines up with Laurel in the second round.
You know they’ll be there; the Locos haven’t missed a state scene since 2007.
For anybody else, better luck next time.