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Monthly Archives:' February 2014

How C. Falls coach Cary Finberg righted a reporter's blunder

As the old saying goes, everybody makes mistakes.

Anyone who’s ever worked in a news service knows this all too well — the embarrassing zing when an error makes it to the public’s eye is more common than any of us would like.

But not all reporter gaffes show up in newsprint. And I had a doozy two weeks ago while working on a story about Columbia Falls girls AND boys basketball coach Cary Finberg. Luckily, Finny came to my rescue.

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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.


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.

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What is Montana's best high school sports rivalry?

UPDATED: The Billings area schools are killing it in the online voting. Central-Laurel leads the way with Senior-West hot on its heels through the first week of voting and Malta-Glasgow coming in third.

You can vote daily by following this link. But remember, you must register to have your vote count. Go ahead, go!


Rivalries are what makes sports fun — well, that and maybe winning — but which schools in Montana have the state’s best sporting rivalry?

Well, that’s up to you. The Missoulian newspaper, in conjunction with Lee Enterprises and the Wisconsin State Journal, want you to get out there and vote! Cast your ballot for Montana’s best high school sports rivalry (sorry — no Griz or Cats allowed) by clicking here and supporting rivals and those teams you love to hate.

Is it Sentinel-Hellgate? How bout Loyola-Florence? Whitefish-Columbia Falls or Arlee-Charlo? Maybe Hamilton-Stevensville-Corvallis? Or Thompson Falls-Plains?

We’ll be back with updates and results as the competition goes along.

And don’t forget, you have to vote to have your thoughts count. We appreciate your comments below but they might as well be yelled from a moving car window.

i.e. they don’t count

One-legged Huntley LB earns walk-on spot at MSU

One-legged Huntley LB earns walk-on spot at MSU

A year and a half ago Koni Dole’s life — let alone his football future — took a devastating turn when an on-field injury forced the amputation of his right leg just below the knee.

Monday afternoon, Dole continued one of the great comeback stories not just in Montana, but anywhere in prep sports by earning a preferred walk-on spot with the Montana State Bobcats to play football next fall.

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Big Sky girls were ready for rhythm of Flathead rumble

It can be tough to find a flow when a basketball game is stopped — on average — every 56 seconds because of fouls.

That wasn’t the case for the Missoula Big Sky girls on Saturday in a battle with Kalispell Flathead, a brawl-of-a-game that saw 51 fouls whistled combined. That’s because the Eagles practice in a similar environment, coach Damian Droessler said. Continue reading

Signing Day's curious case of QB Dallas Cook

Lost amid last week’s manic National Signing Day frenzy was a somewhat shocking decision — or not, depending on whom you talk to — of where the most prolific passer in Montana prep football history will continue his playing career.

Butte High’s Dallas Cook, who practically penned his own chapter in the Montana record books, committed to play junior college ball at North Dakota State College of Science last Wednesday. Continue reading

Hot Springs pulling weight in Savage Horsemen wrestling co-op

Typically in cross-classification co-ops — where one smaller school sends its athletes to a larger one for after-school sports — the balance is hardly even. The setup allows the smallest educational institutions to offer a sport that they themselves don’t have the enrollment to hold in-house.

Well that’s not the case in Sanders County. The Plains Horsemen and Hot Springs Savage Heat have one of the most fearsome Class B-C wrestling squads from western Montana this year and a lot of that power is coming from the tiny town of Hot Springs. Continue reading

UPDATED: National signing day 2014's list of western Montana football commits

UPDATED: National signing day 2014's list of western Montana football commits

UPDATED: It’s been a little over two months since college football had its big signing day. We brought you this list at that point, but it’s gotten quite a bit longer since then — up to 39 area signees.

It’s national signing day 2014 and the National Letters of Intent are flying around this morning with local athletes securing their spots for the future 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, both in signings and other forms of commitment.

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).

With out further ado: Continue reading

Hellgate hoops enjoying rivalry week

Hellgate hoops enjoying rivalry week

Hellgate hoops likes to cram as much Missoula excitement as it can into one action-packed week.

Instead of spreading its crosstown games over its Western AA conference schedule, the Knights hit their Garden City rivals back to back in one crazy week. It pumps the energy level at games through the roof, Hellgate boys’ basketball player Devin Bray said Continue reading

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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:
      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.