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Sentinel boys quick to match season win total from '12-13

What do the dates January 3 and February 22 have in common?

Before you go digging through your encyclopedia (do those still exist outside of school libraries?!), let me break the spell for you. The two dates are the days on the calendar in which the Missoula Sentinel boys’ basketball team earned their third wins of the season in each of the last two years.

The Spartans did so just this Friday (Jan. 3) with a 57-55 victory over last year’s Western AA front-runner Kalispell Glacier to improve to 3-2 on the young season.

Needless to say, there’s been a whole lot of improvement between Jay Jagelski’s first and second seasons at the helm of the Spartans.

“It’s really relieving. We started out slow last year,” said Sentinel forward Chase Walker, providing a dramatic understatement, “so it’s really nice to already be at three wins.”

Last winter it took Sentinel until its 20th (!) game of the season to reach the mark. It also happened to be the team’s only league victory, a 40-39 squeaker over Helena Capital. That Feb. 22 game fell on the final day of the regular season.

Sentinel would fall to those same Bruins a few days later in a play-in game to state as the West’s No. 7 seed and finish the season at 3-18 in a forgettable campaign.

The 2013-14 Spartans at are this point already in part because of the hard-knock learning experience of yesteryear, Jagelski said following Sentinel’s victory over Glacier this week.

“These boys have worked extremely hard and we knew when we were coming back for this next year and going into the summer that these boys had some potential and could be a good team,” the coach said.

Sentinel returned three starters — one of whom co-led the team in scoring last year in Austin Violette (8.3 ppg) — and added some key newcomers like Quaizhon Walker. Off to a markedly better start to this season and with the frustrations of last year behind them, this team could make some noise.

“Our team is motivated now, they got their heads on right and we’re confident,” Quaizhon Walker said with a smile. “So look out for Sentinel.”

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  • 03 Feb 2015

    UPDATED: 2015 national signing day's western Montana football commits

    UPDATED: With fall camps just around the corner, the list of western Montana natives in the Missoulian's coverage area has swelled near 50. Take a look:
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  • 23 May 2014

    Makena Morley gets creative to fund trip to track nationals

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  • 12 Feb 2015

    Entry to Montana wrestling's Four-Timers Club just got tougher

    Winning four straight state wrestling titles is hard enough, but the reclassification of weight classes in Montana that began this year will likely make the feat decidedly more difficult. When the Montana High Schools Association shifted from 15 to 13 wrestling classes, it eliminated the weight at which many four-timers wrestled as freshmen. The 98 and 105 weights were combined -- as were 195 and 220 on the upper end -- to form a new hybrid weight of 103 that will leave fewer holes in brackets and dual lineups. But it also adds new competition for the lightest weight, the one typically housing freshmen, by doubling the participants. "It's going to be interesting with the weight changes," said Columbia Falls wrestling coach Jesse Schaeffer, who has a senior in his wrestling room chasing state title No. 4 this week in Shonn Roberts. "I think that's going to maybe reduce that." Twenty-three Montana wrestlers have completed their four-peats and 11 of those started at 98 pounds of lower -- Gene Davis of Missoula County High, the state's first four-timer, won his freshman year at 95 pounds in 1960 before a similar weight shift later in the decade. Add in Roberts, who will compete at 138 pounds when state action begins Friday in Billings but won at 98 in 2012, and that's exactly half. "It's kind of weird since that's what I wrestled at as a freshman," Roberts began, "but 103, the 98-105 mix, I think that's reasonable. It'll make things a little bit tougher." That's hardly the thinking behind merging weights, though. At either extreme ends of the weight scale (195 and 220 became the 205 class) fewer teams -- especially at lower classifications -- could field a full lineup. Many times, too few entrants there led to a state bracket marred by automatic byes and regular season duals that might as well skip on to 105 pounds anyway. The unintended consequence is that 2015 may be near the last time wrestling fans will get a trio of four-time possibles all on the mats at the same time. Sidney's Gresh Jones joins Roberts in the Class A tournament this week at 126 pounds searching for his fourth, while Forsyth's Matt Weber will be the talk of Class B-C with a potential fourth title. Both boys won their first -- and lightest -- at 112 pounds, though.