Most everybody in Montana prep basketball circles knows about Missoula Sentinel seniors Olivia Roberts and Maddie Keast.
You know they’re the major contributors for the undefeated Spartans. You probably know they’re leading Sentinel in the hunt for a third straight State AA girls’ title. You probably also know they’ve both committed to Division I college programs for next year.
But there’s a whole heap of Spartans backing them up without whom Sentinel wouldn’t be in near the pretty position it is now.
Take fellow senior Sam Harper for instance. The 6-foot-1 post, who’s older sister Liz dominated across the sports spectrum for the Lady Spartans quite recently, had a career game just last week. Harper barely missed a triple double while leading Sentinel to a big win over Class A Hamilton on Saturday, scoring 23 points to go with 13 rebounds and eight blocks.
But she’s hardly the only one contributing, though not all of the other Spartans leave such tangible evidence in their wake.
Starting point guard Lexi Steele is one example, Sentinel coach Karen Deden points out.
“She does a lot of things that you don’t see in the stat line,” Deden said of the junior who ranks fifth on the Sentinel team in scoring, but second in all of Class AA in assists. “She’s making that extra pass. She creates a lot offensively for us even though she’s not a scorer. I could see next year her being much more of a scorer for us.”
Steele averages 4.5 dimes per game for the 10-0 Spartans, the top ranked team in Montana girls’ AA basketball.
Sentinel features four seniors in its starting lineup, the other being Emily Beach. So who are the big players for the future that will be counted on to replace the Keasts and Robertses of the team.
Freshman Shannon Worster is a good bet. She’s already fourth on this year’s team in scoring and is dangerous from beyond the arc. Worster has the fourth-best 3-point accuracy among AA shooters (.455). But there’s also Haley Rogers, a junior now who ranks right ahead of her (.462) for threes.
The Spartans of the future can shoot, which is good since the tallest girl returning with varsity experience will be just 5-foot-9.
“We’ll have some girls stepping up, but we go back to being small,” Deden said.