C.M. Russell High boys, Great Falls High girls ranked

crosstown photo

The first Associated Press high school prep polls came out today and it’s time for some analysis.
In the girls’ poll, Missoula Sentinel took the top slot while Helena Capital was second. Great Falls High, meanwhile, checks in at No. 4. The Bison take on C.M. Russell High Thursday and we’ll have more on that later.
Havre received votes in the Class A poll, but not enough to crack the top five. Two-time defending state champion Fairfield tops the Class B poll with Townsend and Malta following right behind. Choteau is also into the rankings at No. 10.
In Class C, defending champion Belt garnered the most first-place votes (four), but managed to slip to third in the rankings, which makes me wonder if someone left the Huskies completely off their ballot. Belt’s only loss came in its season-opener to Fairfield. Nevertheless, Westby-Grenora takes over the top spot with Winnett-Grass Range checking in second. C-J-I is fifth, followed by St. Labre, Fairview, Harlowton-Rygate, Augusta and Broadview-Lavina.
One of the top surprises has to be the emergence of the GFH girls so far this season, although it might not be too much of a surprise to the program itself.
“It’s all coaching,” GFH coach Gregg Dart said Wednesday, before bursting out laughing. “No, I think really the cliché thing of playing very well as a team. We’ve had a number of different girls step up each night, whether it’s rebounding, playing good defense to making our free throws, which we’ve improved on.”
The Bison have doubt been bolstered by the addition of Lizzie Klinker, who transferred from Fairfield. Klinker’s older sister Molly led the Eagles to back-to-back state titles and is now playing at the University of Montana.
That didn’t stop Lizzie from wearing MSU Bobcats shorts to practice.
“(Mollie’s) the one who gave them to me,” the younger Klinker said.
At any rate, the Bison are looking to snap a 13-game losing streak to CMR in Thursday’s crosstown game.
“It’s been a surprise every night,” Dart said. “The girls are getting along very well. I think we’re doing a good job of spreading out our minutes. We’re trying to play pretty high energy and having some depth has helped us too. We’re able to maintain that high energy for all four quarters.”
In the boys’ poll, Hellgate tops the AA poll with Glacier garnering two votes. CMR is fourth and would likely be No. 1 or No. 2 if not for Glacier’s 75-footer that beat the Rustlers at the buzzer in the season opener.
Class B’s top-ranked squad is Rocky Boy, which topped defending state champion and No. 2 Malta earlier this season. Fairfield checks in third and Glasgow is ninth.
Fairview tops Class B with Roy-Winifred in second. Centerville is fourth with Highwood and Dutton-Brady tied for sixth. C-J-I is ninth.
There are plenty of leftover thoughts from Tuesday’s crosstown boys’ basketball game.
First off, the game involved three technical fouls: one each from CMR’s Josh Horner and Joey Marzion and GFH’s Lucas Vining.
I honestly didn’t see what Vining or Horner did (I believe I was writing ‘dunk’ in my notebook when Horner was penalized). Marzion’s, I presume, was for hanging on the rim after a missed dunk. Technically, I guess that’s the right call, but I think a case could be made that he was still up there to avoid landing on a GFH defender.
The Bison sorely missed star Dylan Tatarka and that was evident as they mustered only 38 points.
“I don’t want to say it’s lazy, but it comes down to not being used to playing against a really athletic team,” GFH coach Bob Howard said. “CMR’s got athletes all across the board, even their guards can dunk. We battled well and if we get a few shots to drop, it’s a whole different ending.”
The two dunks certainly emphasize CMR’s athleticism. But Marzion also posted up down low, which was another emphasis of the Rustlers during practice.
“Just letting the game come to me and when I’m open, to shoot,” Marzion said. “We’ve been working in practice, posting me up and trying to get me the ball inside. So that’s what we did. We came out and tried to get the ball in the paint for me.”

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