The Montana High School Lacrosse State Championship returned to Billings after COVID canceled the competition in 2020.
The three-day tournament started on Friday at Amend Park and includes 19 teams in three divisions.
"This is their final tournament of the year and everybody's geared up, trying to get to the championship game," said Becky Wager, Billings Bearcatst board vice-president. "Once you get into lacrosse it becomes a favorite for most people, just because it's so fast paced and it also has that physical component to it. A lot of kids and parents, enjoy it."
Wagner said the players did what they could to work on their skills when COVID guidelines kept them from playing.
"We struggled with some numbers with kids coming back to play, getting out of sync," she said. "And I think a lot of the programs throughout the state have struggled with getting some of those kids back into the sport losing a year of it. But most of the kids are grateful to be able to play for the year."
The tournament brings teams from Montana and Wyoming.
While it's a competition, it's also a celebration of the season.
"Coming strong together as a community because that's what this whole game is about," said Chris Kelley, owner and director of Treasure State Lacrosse, which is helping with the tournament. "It's about celebrating the strengths and coming together to kind of have everyone succeed together."
Kelly also coaches the club team at Montana State University in Bozeman.
"It's great to see the growth and the extended success in Montana," Kelley said. "A lot of the times when we have statewide athletes, we want to help them. If they want to pursue a higher path in lacrosse, we try and get them to a school that's going to help them collegiately."
"It's one of those sports that can be played aggressively, and very effectively," Kelley said. "But there's so much honor and respect for the other opponents after the game, or even during that everyone's kind of putting it out there. So you'll see a lot of, you know, handshakes and a lot of hugs after the game—just, you know, well played all the way around."
The tournament finishes with championship games Sunday at the Lockwood High School stadium.