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Best of Preps - Winter 2013
Photography by Lido Vizzutti | Flathead Beacon

BASKETBALL
Ryan Edwards


CLASS: Senior
SCHOOL: Glacier
HEIGHT: 7'0"
POSITION: Center
STATS: Class AA all-state, 12.8 points, 8 rebounds, 3 blocks

Towering over opponents, Ryan led Glacier in scoring and rebounding the last two years, during which the Wolfpack were 33-6 in the regular season, Western AA champs and ranked No. 1 in Montana. Shortly after graduating this spring, Ryan will make the leap to Division I and join Gonzaga, the former top-ranked college team in the nation. Though the prospect can be “nerve-wracking,” Ryan said he looks forward to the challenge of playing for a premier team like the Zags.


Ryan on being a role player for Glacier:
"I didn’t need to impress coaches anymore. I just wanted to do what’s best for our team. I didn’t try to do more than others. I wanted us to win together."





BASKETBALL
Luke Kazlauskas


CLASS: Senior
SCHOOL: Columbia Falls
HEIGHT: 6'0"
POSITION: Guard
STATS: Class A all-state, 14.5 points, 5 rebounds, 2.5 assists

Despite graduating the entire starting lineup from last year’s state runner-up team, Columbia Falls won its fifth consecutive Northwestern A title and finished in the top three at the state tournament for the fifth straight year. Luke transformed from a role player coming off the bench a year ago to the Wildcats top scorer and clutch leader. He sank three free throws in the final minute to secure a 48-46 win over Laurel in the state consolation game.


Luke on the Wildcats exceeding expectations:
"Taking third at state was a big deal. A lot of people were doubting us because last year our whole starting lineup was seniors and everybody that came back was kind of new."





BASKETBALL
Jordan Danz


CLASS: Senior
SCHOOL: Stillwater Christian
HEIGHT: 6'0"
POSITION: Guard
STATS: MCAA all-state, 15.8 points, 8.7 rebounds, 4 steals, 3.6 assists

Any doubt that Stillwater can compete with larger schools was silenced midway through the season when the Cougars narrowly lost to Glacier, one of the top Class AA teams in the state. After the seven-point defeat against the Wolfpack, Stillwater won 10 straight and claimed a third consecutive Montana Christian Athletic Association state championship. Jordan was named tournament MVP. She recently helped Stillwater defeat Glacier for the team trophy at the annual Les Schwab Shootout. She plans to play volleyball at Montana Tech next year.


Jordan on Stillwater competing with Glacier’s varsity:
"It was nice to show that we’re not just some tiny school that doesn’t have athletic ability."





BASKETBALL
Garth West


CLASS: Senior
SCHOOL: Flathead
HEIGHT: 6'9"
POSITION: Post
STATS: Class AA second team all-conference, 12 points, 7.5 rebounds

After playing varsity off and on last year, Garth’s goal this season was to earn a full-time spot with the Braves. He trained all offseason and attended every team camp. The senior became Flathead’s starting post and co-captain. He led the Braves in scoring and rebounding, averaging almost 10 points per game more than last season. Garth held his own against Glacier and scored 14 points in both cross-town games.


Garth on working in the offseason to earn a starting varsity spot:
"Coach (Fred) Febach was really a motivation. He always believed in me and knew that I could be better, so he pushed me to do that."


MORE STARS:
Shea Schroeder (Flathead)
Kyle Griffith (Glacier)
Jared Trinastich (Columbia Falls)
Austin Jordt (Bigfork)
Christian Evans (Bigfork)
Chris Landon (Bigfork)
Josh Jarvis (Flathead Valley Home School)
Jake VanBuren (Flathead Valley Home School)
Josh Bray (Stillwater Christian)



BASKETBALL
Hope Burlage


CLASS: Senior
SCHOOL: Columbia Falls
HEIGHT: 5'9"
POSITION: Guard
STATS: Class A all-state, 8 points

The past three seasons, Hope embodied confidence and toughness for a storied basketball program. She returned this season as a co-captain who helped steer a turnaround that included the top ranking in the state at one point. She credited the team’s renewed success to working hard in the offseason and regaining their swagger behind head coach Cary Finberg.


Hope on the Wildkats working hard to
regain their reputation as one of the best teams in Montana:
"You have to prove yourself. It’s not just given to you."


MORE STARS:
Hailee Bennett (Glacier)
Rachel Chery (Glacier)
Emily Russell (Flathead)
Winter Kemppainen (Columbia Falls)
Tessa Robertson (Bigfork)
Morgan Paolini (Stillwater Christian)
Sarah Paolini (Stillwater Christian)



BASKETBALL
Haley Belgarde


CLASS: Junior
SCHOOL: Columbia Falls
HEIGHT: 6'0"
POSITION: Post
STATS: Class A all-state, 15 points, 13 rebounds

It’s no coincidence that the Wildkats’ revival this season coincided with Haley stepping into a starting varsity role. In her first year with heightened responsibilities, she became one of the top scorers in the state and her team’s go-to leader. In a challenge game against Polson to determine a state tournament berth, Haley scored 20 points and grabbed seven rebounds to lead Columbia Falls to a 48-38 win. A season after finishing 9-12, the Wildkats returned to state with a 17-4 record. Expect big things in C-Town next season with the return of Haley and two other talented starters.


Haley on what she loves about basketball:
"When your team gets going and you all just gel together,
it’s a great feeling that I’ve always loved."





BASKETBALL
Evan Epperly


CLASS: Junior
SCHOOL: Glacier
HEIGHT: 5'8"
POSITION: Guard
STATS: Class AA all-state, 10.4 points, 4 assists, 3 steals

If Evan seems to have a noticeable prowess on the basketball court, it’s because basketball is in his blood. His uncle Jeff played for Montana State. His father Jim played at Flathead under Evan’s grandfather, Bill, and Jim went on to coach at Bigfork. Inevitably, Evan had a basketball in hand at an early age, which helps explain his natural abilities on the court today. Evan served as the Wolfpack’s fleet-footed point guard the past three seasons, and will be one of the state’s top returning players next year.


Evan on being in a family of coaches and former basketball players:
"I grew up in the gym."





BASKETBALL
Emma Andrews


CLASS: Junior
SCHOOL: Flathead
HEIGHT: 5'8"
POSITION: Guard
STATS: Class AA all-state, 13.1 points, 5.1 rebounds, 3 steals

Emma led the Bravettes in scoring the past two seasons, but this became a breakout year for both her and the team. She was the fifth-leading scorer in the state and scored a career-high 27 points against Helena. In a playoff against Missoula Big Sky, the Bravettes fell behind 10 points late in the second half, but Emma captained the comeback and Flathead advanced to the state tournament for the first time since 2008. She’ll be one of the state’s top returning players next season with the goal of building on this year’s success.


Emma on hoping to play at the Class AA state basketball tournament:
"Last year I went and watched the state tournament and the environment was pretty cool. I thought it would be so cool to play in it."





BASKETBALL
Colter Trent


CLASS: Senior
SCHOOL: Bigfork
HEIGHT: 6'6"
POSITION: Forward
STATS: Class B all-state, 11.1 points, 5.2 rebounds

In his first full season back from knee surgery since 2011, Colter propelled Bigfork to the No. 1 ranking in Class B as the Vikings’ leading scorer and rebounder. The senior co-captain, along with fellow all-state teammates Austin Jordt and Christian Evans, guided Bigfork to a district title, second place at the divisional and fourth place at the state tournament. Despite coming up shy of a trophy, Colter and the Vikings achieved one of the program’s best seasons in school history with a 20-7 record.


Colter on the Vikings’ finish to the season:
"You obviously want to end on top but fourth place in the state isn’t bad."





BASKETBALL
Cassi Hashley


CLASS: Junior
SCHOOL: Glacier
HEIGHT: 6'1"
POSITION: Center
STATS: Class AA all-state, 15.3 points, 13 rebounds

Cassi continues to play a key role for the rising girls basketball program at Glacier. She led the state in rebounding by almost five boards per game and was the second leading scorer, behind Big Sky Conference recruit Amy Davis of Bozeman. Glacier won its most games in a single season – 17 – and qualified for the state tournament for the second straight year. The Wolfpack also dealt top-ranked and previously undefeated Missoula Sentinel its only loss of the season, 49-37. Cassi scored 17 points against the eventual state champs.


Cassi on Glacier handing top-ranked and eventual state champ Sentinel its only loss of the season:
"It definitely shows that we’re not that new of a high school anymore."





WRESTLING
Shonn Roberts


CLASS: Sophomore
SCHOOL: Columbia Falls
HEIGHT: 5'9"
STATS: Class A state champion at 112 pounds

It took barely seven minutes for Shonn to pin four opponents at the state tournament and claim his second straight title, at 112 pounds. He finished the season undefeated and ranked first in the Montana All-Class poll after moving up two weight divisions. His 33 pins broke former state champ Kelly Houle’s 2010 school record of 32. A week after state, Shonn was back in the gym preparing for the Junior National Championships this summer. Next season he could move up another two divisions with a chance to build on an impressive Mat Cat legacy.


Shonn on what motivates him:
"There’s a lot of good kids in the state and I want to be the best out of all of them."





WRESTLING
Jackson Barber


CLASS: Senior
SCHOOL: Glacier
HEIGHT: 5'9"
STATS: Class AA state champion at 160 pound

A year ago, Jackson was struggling to recover from his second knee surgery. Yet his ultimate goal remained intact: win a state title. After a rigorous rehabilitation, he returned to the mat his senior season and won 37 matches, one shy of the school record. The remarkable comeback ended with Jackson prevailing in the championship match of the 160-pound division. He was one of two Glacier grapplers to earn gold medals, along with Kaleb Mitchell at 140 pounds. He plans to keep competing after high school.


Jackson on how he got started wrestling:
"Growing up with three other brothers, it was definitely a living room sport for us."


MORE STARS:
Suny Cheff (Flathead)
Cameron Linstead (Columbia Falls)
Haze Bell (Columbia Falls)
Seth McCall (Columbia Falls)
Dawson Day (Glacier)
Lucas Mantel (Glacier)
Grant Tafoya (Glacier)
Kaleb Mitchell (Glacier)



SWIMMING
Jordan Loyda


CLASS: Senior
SCHOOL: Glacier
STATS: State champion in 50 freestyle; member of the state champion 200 and 400 freestyle relays; second in 100 freestyle

Jordan capped his impressive senior season with three state titles, three school records and nearly two state records. He also helped Glacier earn second place at the state meet, the program’s first top-three trophy. His winning time in the 50 freestyle – 22.08 seconds — was half a second off the 1992 state record. He joined his brother Joshua, Logan Streit and Jake Cirincione in winning the 200 and 400 relay titles. Their 200 time of 1:30.48 was a breath away from surpassing the 1999 state record of 1:30.08. Jordan’s summer is full of regional competition, including a shot at the U.S. Open, before competing at Pacific Lutheran University next year.


Jordan on training alongside his talented teammates:
"Even in practice you feel like you’re racing in a meet."





SWIMMING
MaKenna Siebenaler


CLASS: Senior
SCHOOL: Glacier
STATS: Third at state in the 50 freestyle; fourth in the 100 freestyle

Time management is a skill that MaKenna certainly excels in. Since freshman year, she has been involved in just about every extra-curricular activity that’s offered, especially during winter. On her way to breaking three school records on the swim team and bringing home two state medals, she also competed on Glacier’s state champion speech and debate team. She’s been accepted by schools such as Notre Dame and Washington University in St. Louis, where she doesn’t plan on staying any less active.


MaKenna on encouraging other students to get involved with extra-curricular activities:
"Activities keep you balanced and they allow you to meet people you never thought you would. Some of those people have become my best friends."


MORE STARS:
Joshua Loyda (Glacier)
Jake Cirincione (Glacier)
Logan Streit (Glacier)
Jessica Stenberg (Glacier)
Cassie Krueger (Flathead)
 
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