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Bigfork volleyball coach Mary K. Hovland-Burrington said last week's hearing before the Montana Human Rights Bureau in Helena went about as expected.

Now, it's a waiting game.

Terry Spear, state hearing examiner, said his decision would come in one to three months.

Hovland-Burrington and fellow coaches John Reis of Butte and John LaBonty of Glasgow filed a complaint with the bureau, contending that the Montana High School Association discriminates against girls by placing volleyball in the winter and basketball in the fall. Montana is one of only four states that follows a non-traditional calendar.

Brook Hovland, Mary's daughter and a senior at Bigfork, also testified during the three-day hearing, as did Reis' eighth-grade daughter.

"I came away encouraged that the judge (Spear) wanted to hear both sides," Hovland-Burrington said. "Brook talked from her experience. She did a great job, and I think (Spear) was moved by what she said."

Jim Haugen, MHSA executive director, said he's uncertain what will happen if the bureau rules in favor of the volleyball coaches.

"Our board (the Board of Control) has gone on record as saying it will go back to the membership if that's the case," Haugen said. "But we don't know what might be recommended in terms of a remedy. So as far as any action or options that we might have, I can't really say. We're just waiting to see what happens."

Basketball players from Stevensville swept MVP honors last week at the inaugural Flathead Valley All-Star Classic in Whitefish.

Clinton Kauffman and Sarah Miller were the boys' and girls' award winners, respectively.

The boys' all-tournament team included John Seyfert, Neil Collins and Jamie Tadvick of Stevensville; Kyle Holbrook and David Scott of Whitefish; Teagan Blaz of Libby; Jason Kearns of Corvallis; Kelly Serfoss of Flathead Christian; Clayton Curley of Hamilton, and Travis Ball of Noxon.

Named to the girls' all-star team were Katrina Ferris of Eureka; Amanda Emslie of Bigfork, Corrie Villegas of Polson; Ashlee Camel of Ronan, and Tara Barge, Marrin Audet, Beka Hudson and Kyla Shafer of Whitefish.

Four coaches around the state are among 47 finalists for national coach of the year awards sponsored by the U.S. Navy Scholastic All-America teams program.

Mike Gear of Sidney (football), Steve Keller of Helena (girls' basketball), Wayne Moorman of Bridger (volleyball) and Kirk Thomas of Billings Senior (softball) are among the finalists. Only two states, Michigan and Nebraska, have more finalists than Montana.

Gear has guided Sidney to nine state championships, including seven straight in 1987-93; Keller's Helena teams have won three girls' state titles, and he also won three straight state crowns at Opheim in the early 1980s; Moorman has taken Bridger to seven state volleyball titles, and Thomas has guided Senior to eight state crowns, including six straight in 1986-91.

Around the state: Erin Jones, a junior hurdler-jumper, is off to a fast start for the Harlowton girls' track team. Jones won five events last weekend at the Laurel Time Trials, and is the overall state leader in the long jump, triple jump and 100-meter hurdles, and shares the state lead in the 300 hurdles. … Three-time defending state Class AA champ Great Falls Russell (6-0) scored an unearned run in the bottom of the 10th inning to edge Billings West 1-0 in an Eastern AA softball thriller. CMR's Lindsey Graham pitched a five-hit shutout with 18 strikeouts, West's Erin McGilvray was nearly as effective, scattering six hits. … Defending state Class A champ Butte Central opened its softball season by sweeping a doubleheader from state runner-up Laurel 7-0 and 5-2. Alicia Wheeler twirled a one-hit shutout in the opener for the Maroons, who own a 28-game winning streak dating back to the start of last season.

Coming up: The Missoula Invitational track and field meet is Saturday at Big Sky. … Some key softball games are on tap this week. Frenchtown travels to Loyola on Wednesday. On Thursday, Sentinel is at Hellgate for a cross-town matchup and Big Sky plays host to Kalispell. … In golf, the Missoula Invitational is Friday and Saturday. … Big Sky has a pair of cross-town tennis matches this week, Tuesday against Sentinel and Thursday against Hellgate.

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