They played together, they won a state championship together and now they’ve signed together – though not with the same school.
Wednesday was a banner day for Missoula Sentinel girls’ basketball as both Olivia Roberts and Maddie Keast signed national letters of intent to play Division I college basketball during a short signing party at the the high school’s gym on the first day of the early signing period for several D-I sports, including basketball, baseball, golf and swimming.
Roberts inked with Wyoming, where she’d verbally committed in September, while Keast chose to stay local and become a Montana Lady Griz. Keast picked UM over the summer with a verbal commit.
Despite their differing destinations and relatively short time as teammates – Keast transferred to Sentinel from Missoula’s Loyola Sacred Heart before last season – the duo grew very close during their junior year. Together, they helped Sentinel to a 22-1 record in 2012 and the second of back-to-back State AA girls’ hoops titles.
Roberts – whose decision came down to Wyoming or Montana – had to do what was best for her, she said, and that unfortunately meant a split from her teammate and becoming a Cowgirl.
“Winning state was awesome with her and we’ve become best buds over the summer and everything,” said Roberts, a 5-foot-11 small forward. “It’s sad I’m not going to be able to play college basketball with her, but at the same time I get to watch her pursue her dream as well as mine.”
But it’s not like the Spartans’ ride is over at Sentinel either. Preseason practices for basketball start in less than two weeks.
“Just knowing that today me and Liv signed together, knowing that now I can focus on my senior season, we have a job here to do,” said Keast, a 5-8 guard. “We have a goal to accomplish and both knowing where we’re going for our senior year, it’s something to really look forward to.”
Roberts and Keast ranked first and third on the Spartans in points per game last season. Roberts averaged 13.3 points while Keast scored 9.5 a game through the regular season. Roberts scored 15 points while Keast had 11 in a 49-40 championship win over Helena Capital in March.
Roberts, the MVP of the State AA tournament, was also the team leader in rebounding with 8.3 boards per contest.
Other local signees included:
• Slade Heggen, a senior at Loyola Sacred Heart, signed with Oregon on Wednesday to play baseball after verbally committing to the Ducks this summer. Heggen, a catcher, led the AA Missoula Mavericks in a flurry of hitting categories during the 2013 season including hits (113), runs (115), triples (12), walks (43) and batting average (.441) in 68 games played.
• Missoula Hellgate’s Katie Wills committed to Southern Utah to play golf with a letter of intent signed on Wednesday after helping the Knights to a third-place finish in the State AA girls’ golf tournament in October. Wills, a senior, shot a two-day 163 (85-78) to finish eighth individually.
• Missoula Big Sky student and Missoula Aquatic Club swimmer Kate Zimmer signed a letter of intent Wednesday to swim for Louisiana State. Zimmer finished second in the Montana state swim meet as a junior in both the 100-yard butterfly and 50-yard freestyle races.
• Hellgate’s Pat Colberg signed his letter Wednesday to Carroll College where he’ll play basketball next year. Colberg, who scored 6.0 points and grapped 3.2 rebounds per game last year, was part of the Knights’ 2012-13 State AA championship team.
• Frenchtown’s Vanessa Stavish also signed a letter of intent Wednesday. The post player committed to play basketball at MSU-Billings.
• Hellgate’s Allie Trent signed a letter of intent Wednesday to attend Carroll College and compete in the pole vault next year.