BILLINGS — After falling just short in football a year ago, the Kalispell Glacier Wolfpack won their first state boys basketball championship in school history in Great Falls.
Question is, can they do it again?
The Wolfpack supplanted recent basketball powers Billings Skyview and Bozeman on their way to the title, winning 46-42 over the Hawks. The Wolfpack graduated plenty of talent, most notably AA tournament MVP Jaxen Hashley, who is now playing football for the Bobcats along with Glacier teammate Tadan Gilman.
After losing in two straight Class AA title games, Bozeman looks to be right back up at the top of the East behind senior and University of Montana commit Mack Anderson, though the Hawks graduated all-state players Drew Huse and Callahan O'Reilly. Skyview, which had won the previous two titles before Glacier, will also be tough, though they lose key players in all-state guard and three-year starter RayQuan Evans (North Idaho College) and second team all-conference players in Zharon Richmond (MSUB) and Steven Fisher (Dawson Community College).
Great Falls will look to figure out life without Brendan Howard, who was the Montana Gatorade Player of the Year the last two seasons. Howard is now playing college basketball at Eastern Washington.
Billings Senior returns four of five starters from a year ago, while Billings West will be young this year and will be without all-state guards and twins Bryson and Braydon Deming. In the Western Conference, Missoula Sentinel, Missoula Hellgate and Kalispell Flathead will all be looking for return trips to the state tournament. The Class AA will be featuring divisional tournaments this season, which will be held on March 1-3. The state tournament will be held in Billings at Rimrock Auto Arena at MetraPark on March 8-10.
Great Falls CMR, Butte, Senior, Missoula Big Sky, Helena and Helena Capital will all be looking to make up for tournament misses a year ago.