MISSOULA — For the Missoula Sentinel girls, Saturday's 90-48 win over crosstown rival Missoula Big Sky was cathartic.
For the Spartan boys, the overtime victory was frenetic.
In the Sentinel nightcap, the Big Sky boys rallied from a 16-point first-half deficit to ultimately force overtime. The Spartans, ranked No. 1 by 406mtsports.com's first poll of the season, protected home court, however, and came away with a 66-60 win.
Senior Gaige DeShazer hit a pair of long-range 3-pointers in the extra period to clinch Sentinel's first crosstown win (5-1 overall, 1-0 in conference).
"He's a gamer," Sentinel coach Jay Jagelski said. "He might have missed a few before that, but he'll keep on shooting, and he'll find that one that will ignite the crowd.
"And that's what he did."
DeShazer's first triple came with 2:45 remaining in the period and re-tied the game at 56-all. A Nick Germer offensive rebound and kick out gave DeShazer a bunch of time to sight in the 3-pointer.
He took a deep breath and splashed it home.
"It felt good. I hadn't been shooting well until (those final shots) but I had the confidence to knock it down," DeShazer said.
The trey came just seconds after Big Sky's McKee Muralt buried his first basket of the game — a 3-pointer — to open the extra-time scoring. His fist pump sent the student section into a frenzy, and with 3:23 remaining in OT, the Eagles had their first lead.
Big Sky led again, too, as Andrew Gardanier answered DeShazer's first three with a smooth finish in the lane. With 2:30 remaining, Big Sky led 58-56.
"We found an identity as a team and we defended tonight. We hooped offensively and we had flow," Big Sky coach Bryan Ferriter said. "I'm proud of my team; we're just going to keep taking steps forward and heading in the right direction from here on out."
Sentinel's Sam Beighle stepped up, too, as the senior and Carroll College commit canned his second 3-pointer of the night on the Spartans' next possession to put his squad ahead 59-58.
Big Sky's Levi Janacaro hit 1 of 2 free throws on the other end to tie the game at 59s with 1:50 remaining, but DeShazer had one more 3-pointer in him.
It came with 1:30 remaining and gave Sentinel a 62-59 lead it wouldn't relinquish.
"We needed him big time. (Beighle) knows how to distribute well when they're (running a box and one) and he's a big key to why we had the points we had up there," DeShazer said.
Beighle finished with four made free throws as the scrappy Eagles tried to extend the game and the senior finished with a hard-fought 21 points despite being man-marked most of the game. He was held scoreless in the first quarter.
DeShazer added 14 more, all of them coming in the second half or overtime.
"... We returned to that first-quarter personality we had before and we were able to hit those shots again," Jagelski said.
For the Eagles (0-6, 0-2), the crosstown comeback that wasn't to be still brought a silver lining. They rallied; they had standout performances.
Sophomore Camdyn Larance scored 11 points and hit a huge 3-pointer in the fourth quarter, that pulled Big Sky within two, 46-44. Senior David Gibson finished with 13 first-half points to lead the squad in scoring and Janacaro added another 10 for the Eagles.
But the Spartans survived.
In the first game of the crosstown doubleheader, the Sentinel girls thrived. Three Spartans reached double figures, and Lady Griz recruit Kylie Frohlich led the way with 25 points. It's believed to be the four-year starter's career best.
It came after a Christmas break where Sentinel was stuck thinking about a five-overtime loss just before the holidays.
"Practices started feeling long because we were all just waiting for the game," said Frohlich, who was battling a head cold. "This one being the next one after having a week off, we were just excited to get out and play again."
Lexi Deden added 15 more points from the post and Emma Krebsbach finished with 10.
Big Sky's Mia Sandau and teammate TiLynn McGreevey also cracked double digits Saturday. The 5-foot-5 Sandau attacked the rim against a tall Spartan defense and finished with 15 points. McGreevey led the squad with 16.