Hart High School is officially in the Battle of the Fans.

The Hart student section, known in the school gym as the "Pirate Posse", was announced Monday morning as one of the nine semifinalists for the ninth annual MHSAA Battle of the Fans. (The MHSAA said in its release that 20 schools in all applied to be part of the Battle.)

Along with Hart, other semifinalists were Saginaw Heritage, Traverse City West and Zeeland East from Class A; Buchanan, Caro and Frankenmuth from Class B; and Petersburg-Summerfield and Reese from Class C/D.Last year, Hart's fellow West Michigan Conference school, North Muskegon, took the top prize at the Battle of the Fans, and athletic director Tim Hertzler said that spurred the Pirate Posse to participate this year.

"I know some of our students noticed that and paid attention to that," Hertzler said. "Our student leadership class decided they wanted to make a submission this year. Any school that wants to can submit a video...We feel like we've had a good student section a number of years now. it's fun to display that and get recognition."

The work is far from over, though. As a semifinalist, Hart's student section has been assigned to complete five mandatory challenges and five more challenges from a list of 15 other choices, and document their completion on social media by 11 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 25.

Among the challenges Hart must complete by then include showing how many students are in the student section from at least three different games, show photos of the student section at a non-boys basketball game, and show photos of the section at an away game. As a semifinalist, Hart is also invited to participate in a 'takeover' of the MHSAA Instagram account for 20-30 minutes during a game night.

Three finalists will be announced Monday, Jan. 27, and the Pirates hope to be among them. If selected as a finalist, Hart will be visited by the MHSAA for a game as part of the final selection process. The BOTF winner will be announced in February, and honored at the boys basketball state semifinals at the Breslin Center.

Hertzler said the students are excited about the announcement and the next step.

"There's definitely some high-fiving with kids in the hallways, especially the kids who put work into the video," Hertzler said. "They did a lot of work and they did a good job...It's good to see them get some recognition for all the cheering they do for our athletics."