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There's just something about small towns.

It's not news to sports fans in the area, and this is not meant as disrespect to some of the larger metro areas in the state, but there's a different energy as soon as a sports writer or fan crosses the town line to one of those classic communities where everyone knows everyone.

Belle Fourche is one of those places.

One of my favorite parts of this job is getting to go to places that I'm not from, and take part in the sports and teams that make the citizens of those towns proud. I got to see that in late January when I covered the highly anticipated matchup between the two best girls' basketball teams in Class A at the time: Belle Fourche and St. Thomas More.

After parking about five blocks from the gym in the first spot I could find, I remember entering the stuffy and crowded gym and looking around in amazement. 

I've been in packed gyms before, but this kind of a crowd had to have made the local fire marshal nervous. 

There was little room to stand, both Broncs and Cavs fans had created a wall of sound that started before tip-off and didn't end until well after Belle Fourche secured the 43-42 win over STM.

It was just fun, and it seems to be that way in smaller towns. To see the emotion and investment of people leaving cares and worries behind for an hour and a half to enjoy great high school athletes fight in a game that wasn't a playoff game, it only felt like a playoff game.

Now, the real playoffs are here. We are through the regional round and the Round of 16 and Thursday in Watertown the Class A girls' tournament begins.

The Broncs aren't only in the tournament, they enter with a 21-1 record and as the No. 1 seed. They will take on Madison Thursday at 11 a.m.

It's been a while since the town has gotten to celebrate this girls' program this late into March. The last time Belle Fourche made this tournament was 2000.

According to Broncs coach Bill Burr, the people of the town are making up for lost time.

"I have to say, the community has been very supportive of us the last two or three years," Burr said. "Everyone is excited, everywhere you go people are talking about it. Even on the road we get a big following, and I can't say how much that support means to the girls. It's fun to see."

I can attest to Burr's claims, because I've seen it. 

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That night in January was special, for the sizable STM cheering section and the Belle Fourche fans who filled that gym up to the rafters.

It was special because, as cheesy as it sounds, the result wasn't the most important thing to those fans. Those were girls they knew, girls many of the fans had known all their lives.

There was a pride in those fans of seeing a team that they had seen grow up that trumped what the final score was, and I believe that pride will extend to the weekend.

So too, does Burr.

"As long as we can go down there and put forth our best effort, these girls have been so exiting to watch that we’ll be proud as heck of them either way," he said.

Because, after all, there's just something about small towns.

Contact Geoff Preston at geoffrey.preston@rapidcityjournal.com

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Sports Reporter

Sports reporter for the Rapid City Journal.