S tarting at noon on Feb. 23, the town of Arlee, Mont., evacuated. Most of its 600-odd residents drove 70 miles south through Missoula and then into the Bitterroot Valley, a river corridor full of subdivisions, trailers, exclusive private communities and ammunition stores. The crowd filtered into the gymnasium at Hamilton High School, wearing red shirts and pins bearing the faces of the Arlee Warriors basketball team, who that evening would be playing the Manhattan Christian Eagles. Manhattan Christian is a faith-based private school near Bozeman. Arlee is a public school on the Flathead Indian Reservation; about half the town is Salish, descendants of the people forced out of the Bitterroot in the 19th century. Manhattan Christian's boys were tall and muscled; most of Arlee's players were well under six feet and on the thinner side. Manhattan Christian arrived in a sleek black bus with aerodynamic curvature and tinted windows; Arlee came in a yellow Blue Bird. The Feb. 23 game would be a rematch of the previous year's Class C state championship, which the Warriors won. On one wall of the gym, Manhattan Christian had hung a banner reading "#unfinished." Arlee had their own banner, but they did not… Read full this story
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