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Sentinel, Capital girls meet again in state preview showdown

Sentinel, Capital girls meet again in state preview showdown

UPDATED: A blizzard warning forced the postponement of the Sentinel-Capital basketball games Thursday. The action will be made up on Monday, Mar. 3, with Sentinel’s girls still hosting Capital at 7 p.m. and the boys on the road in Helena also at 7 p.m.

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Almost four weeks ago, Helena Capital knocked Missoula Sentinel off the path of the unbeatens by upsetting the No. 1 ranked Spartans 55-50 in Helena.

Neither team has lost since as last year’s State AA finalists have been hurtling toward another rematch this week. The now top-ranked Bruins come to Missoula to face the second-ranked Spartans for a 7 p.m. tip-off Thursday, a meeting of two 17-1 clubs with high state aspirations.

Sentinel coach Karen Deden doesn’t expect to change much in the way of her approach on the eve of the showdown. After all, the high-energy defensive game plan did work quite well for a half when Sentinel led 32-20 at the midpoint of the game.

“You know we were up by 12 there,” said Deden, now in her 14th year leading the varsity girls at her alma mater. “We just got tight in the third quarter after they hit some shots on us.”

After a 10-0 run in the second quarter handed the Spartans control, Sentinel managed just three points in the third and Capital and big post player Michaela Dowdy walked away with the win behind solid free throw shooting down the stretch.

Dowdy, a 6-foot-2 Carroll College commit who averages 18.9 points per game, finished with 21 points and shot 9 of 11 from the line. Her team was 19 of 24 overall on charity shots.

Defense in the key will again be a main point of emphasis for Sentinel, Deden said. That puts Sentinel’s own post, 6-1 senior Sam Harper, on the front lines.

“I still think she’s a great player,” Deden said of Dowdy. “We’ve got to figure out how we’re going to limit her touches, stop Kenzie Johnston and just play better defense than we did.”

Deden continued:  “You’re getting down the stretch. Everybody’s playing their best basketball. You expect people to play well.”

Capital may still be without senior Alexa Welch. The guard injured her knee almost two weeks ago against Bozeman and has since missed three straight games.

The Spartans counter with their own standouts, led by seniors Olivia Roberts and Maddie Keast. A future Wyoming Cowgirl, Roberts scores 17.2 points per game and Keast it no slouch either at 13.7. Harper adds another 8.9 points a game and also leads Class AA in blocked shots (32).

Another important factor here is where the game is played. Sentinel  has home court on its side this time. The Spartans haven’t lost at home in more than three years and bring a 32-game home winning streak into Thursday’s matchup.

But who was it that last came to Sentinel High School and managed to win? Well Helena Capital, of course, behind a 39-38 thriller back on Feb. 3, 2011.

“That whole team are great basketball players and we definitely respect them, but we’re looking forward to them,” said Keast, a future Lady Griz player. “They’re our biggest rival and we really want to take them down. And it’s senior night; we want to go out with a bang.”

Sentinel’s last win in the series came last March, a 49-40 victory in the State AA title game that secured the Spartans’ second straight championship and capped a 22-1 season.

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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

    Ever wanted an autographed photo of one of Montana's all-time record-breaking prep runners? Now's your chance. Bigfork High School junior and State B champion of champions Makena Morley is raising money through technology and grass roots to help her reach the New Balance Outdoor High School Track & Field Nationals meet in Greensboro, North Carolina in mid June. And any donors of $25 or more through the fundraising website IndieGoGo.com receive a Morley original complete with signature.  As of this posting, Morley is about 75 percent of the way to her goal of $2,300 for travel and lodging costs for her and her father to the national meet. Events run June 13-15. Morley isn't new to the national running scene, but she appears to be getting create in funding her trips there. She won the West Regional of the Foot Locker Cross Country Championships back in December and then finished eighth in the ensuing national race. "As a junior I have been to 4 national championship races (three in cross country and one for indoor track) but I have never won a national title, so this one is very important to me because I would love for this to be the year for me to win," Morley wrote on her IndieGoGo.com fundraising page. "It is an important year for my college recruiting process, because this is the year when all colleges are looking at you and at what you have accomplished!" IndieGoGo is a kind of online kickstarter to raise money for a cause or idea. It's "the world’s most established crowdfunding platform," according to the organization's website. Crowdfunding is the process of pooling money from many different people for a cause. Morley, a three-time winner of the State B cross country title and Gatorade Runner of the Year for Montana, plans to run the 5,000 meters at the New Balance Nationals along with either the one or two mile. For more about her trip to nationals, or to donate, you can visit her page here.

  • 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.