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Drozdz sisters make it thrice as nice in Florence

If you had to pick a Florence softball player out of the lineup — not the criminal kind, the sporting one — the odds are pretty good you’d have just tabbed a Drozdz.

The Falcons have a rarity on their hands right now with a set of three sisters all in uniform, each of whom is contributing at the varsity level.

Continue reading

Best of the West: Can 6-B volleyball hang with beasts out east?

The strength of Western B volleyball clearly lived in the southern half of the region this year.

The top three teams at last week’s Western B Divisional volleyball tournament in Florence each hailed from District 6-B while the other half of the division, District 7-B, struggled.

Florence and Deer Lodge were at the top, the two teams that advanced to the State B tournament starting Thursday in Bozeman, while Loyola Sacred Heart earned a consolation prize in third after eliminating 7-B champ Bigfork in the third-place match. Continue reading

Florence softball adds yet another title

When it comes to B-C softball, no team has a comparable track record to the Florence Falcons.

Since the Montana High School Association added the classification for the 1999 season, the Falcons have won the championship seven times. That includes two straight after a 6-2 victory over Ronan in the state final on Saturday. Continue reading

Local high schools earn Academic Excellence awards

The Montana High School Association recently named the 2011-2012 winners of its NorthWestern Energy Academic Excellence awards, and two local schools won for their respective classifications.

Missoula Hellgate, for Class AA, and Florence, for Class B, had the highest combined grade-point averages among its student-athletes. The other winners were Billings Central (Class A) and Chester-Joplin-Inverness (Class C).

Hellgate, which had a total enrollment of 1,293 students last spring, compiled a 3.562 GPA among its 256 participants in athletics. Missoula Big Sky was second in the AA pool, compiling a 3.403 GPA between 293 athletes.

Florence posted the highest combined athlete GPA of any school in the awards competition. Florence, which had an enrollment of 252, received a combined GPA of 3.727 among its 74 participants. Class C winner C-J-I was next in line with a 3.714 GPA.

Whitefish was runner-up to Billings Central as the Class A GPA winner. The Bulldogs’ athletes combined for a 3.429 GPA, while the Rams tallied a 3.443 GPA.


Game of the Week: Florence at Bigfork

Sport: Boys’ basketball

Tipoff: Friday, 7 p.m.

The eighth-ranked Falcons (15-2), having wrapped up the District 6-B title, take to the road to complete their regular-season schedule. Waiting are the sixth-ranked Vikings (13-3), who already beat the Falcons, 44-41, in Florence back on Jan. 14.

Coach Sam Baerlocher has guided the Falcons to seven straight wins since that first meeting, while Bigfork knocked off District 7-B threat Troy to rebound from a nonconference loss to Columbia Falls recently.

Junior guard Chris Landon had 15 points for the Vikings in their first head-to-head with the Falcons. Bigfork closes its regular season with a game at Thompson Falls on Saturday.

This game could be a preview of the Western B divisional championship, which will be hosted by Hamilton.

Players of the Week: Jan. 31-Feb. 4

Boys’ basketball

Florence junior Aaron Ward scored 59 points in three wins this past week. The 6-foot-3 guard began his busy week with 19 points in a make-up game victory over Thompson Falls (Jan. 31), then tossed in 18 points in a win over Class A Frenchtown (Feb. 2) and finally capped it off with a 22-point, nine-rebound, six-assist night against fellow District 6-B member Deer Lodge (Feb. 4).

My honorable mention: Josh Schultz, Stevensville, sr.

Who’s your honorable mention? (give player’s name, school and reason why in comments section below).

Girls’ basketball

Drummond senior Ayla Martell had 56 points in leading the Trojans to three wins last week. The 5-foot-6 guard saved her best for last, scoring 26 points in a rout of league foe Alberton on Saturday (Feb. 4). Martell dropped in 20 points in the first quarter alone in that one. She tallied 15 points in each of Drummond’s other two wins.

My honorable mention: Rachel Hoyt, Charlo, jr.

Who’s your honorable mention? (give player’s name, school and reason why in comments section below).


Recent Posts

  • 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:
      It’s national signing day 2015 and the National Letters of Intent were flying around this morning with local athletes securing their spots with college football programs. We’ll keep you updated with the area players who have made their commitments known throughout the day. Here’s a quick look at what we have so far. Don’t forget this is just a bare bones list right now and it will be updated often. Don’t see your name or your kid listed here? Leave it in the comments, or get in contact with us at or on twitter (@ajmazzolini).   MONTANA (4) TE Colin Bingham, Missoula Big Sky DE Andrew Harris, Kalispell Glacier S Josh Sandry, Bigfork DE Jesse Sims, Corvallis MONTANA STATE (5) LB Josh Hill, Kalispell Glacier LB Tanner Hoff, Hot Springs WR Logan Jones, Kalispell Glaicer QB Brady McChesney, Kalispell Glacier DE Byron Rollins, Missoula Sentinel EASTERN WASHINGTON (1) TE Jayce Gilder, Corvallis NORTH DAKOTA (1) TE Brock Shaide, Missoula Big Sky CARROLL COLLEGE (1) WR Paul Wilson, Missoula Hellgate MONTANA TECH (9) WR/RB Nate Gray, Hot Springs RB Jackson King, Missoula Sentinel WR/RB Danny Mannix, Flint Creek WR Sam McCamley, Kalispell Glacier WR Ty Morgan, Columbia Falls OL Matt Murphy, Missoula Big Sky OL Truman Pisk, Kalispell Glacier DB Tucker Rauthe, Kalispell Glacier LB Ike Schweikert, Columbia Falls MONTANA WESTERN (12) OL Zach Brown, Hamilton RB/LB Joe Caicedo, Darby WR Devin Cochran, Kalispell Glacier RB Cory Diaz, Missoula Big Sky RB/LB Jason Ferris, Dillon QB/S J.D. Ferris, Dillon WR/DB Justin Ferris, Dillon QB/DB Bo Hughs, Loyola Sacred Heart (transfer) RB/LB Raymond Matt, St. Ignatius LB Connor McKillop, Missoula Sentinel WR/DB Austin Ray, Corvallis OL Spencer Ross, Columbia Falls MONTANA STATE-NORTHERN (6) RB Zach Crace, Libby LB Travis Crawford, Missoula Big Sky FB Lane Foster, Hot Springs DL Trevor Frandsen, Missoula Big Sky MLB Jonathan Gragg, Missoula Hellgate OL Ryan Handley, Missoula Hellgate ROCKY MOUNTAIN COLLEGE (3) LB Joe Gallatin, Polson DE Jesse Grabowska, Florence RB Marty Pigeon, Loyola Sacred Heart DICKINSON STATE (1) DB Cain Boschee, Kalispell Glacier LEHIGH (1) OL Harrison Kauffman, Kalispell Glacier MACALESTER COLLEGE (1) WR Jack Streibich, Whitefish
  • 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 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 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.