OPINA'S OPINION - AA Basketball Postseason Awards - KFBB.com News, Sports and Weather

OPINA'S OPINION - AA Basketball Postseason Awards

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The AA Basketball season is officially over.

That means it's time to hand out some post-season awards! What better way is there to reflect on the season?

Here are the award winners as selected by the committee of one (me)



BOYS: Tres Tinkle (Hellgate)

He's the best player in the state. He's only a  junior and I've heard he's already getting scholarship offers from PAC-12 schools. Do I really need to explain this one? He's TRES TINKLE dude!!!


GIRLS: Sammy McGree (Butte)

Before you yell at me for not picking Olivia Roberts (Sentinel), Maddie Keast (Sentinel), Cassi Hashley (Glacier) or Michaela Dowdy (Capital), let me explain.

McGree was the State's top scorer at 18.7 points per game.

Defensively she averaged 4.4 steals per game which is 3rd in the state.

McGree is one of the best two-way players in Montana. By no means do I mean any disrespect to Olivia Roberts, who had my vote for the All-Tournament MVP award. But with McGree being among the State's best offensive and defensive statistical leaders, I had to go with her.



BOYS: Carson Dummer (Capital)

Dummer is the anchor of the Capital Defense, which was #1 in the State. You can't measure how many shots he altered when opponents would drive to the rim. There's no way I can't go with Dummer on this one.


Girls: Sam Harper (Sentinel)

Lead the State in blocks. Need I say more?



BOYS: Jay Jagelski (Sentinel)

The Spartans were a miserable 2-16 in the regular season of 2012-13 and lost to Capital in the playoff game as the 7th seed. This year they finished 11-9 in the regular season and had the 3rd seed. At one point they won 8 in a row. That is one hell of a turnaround season.


GIRLS: Gregg Dart (Great Falls)

It's hard to argue with Sentinel's Karen Deden after she just helped the Spartans 3-peat. But Deden's roster has more talent. Gregg Dart helped the Bison obtain one of the best records in school history and they were mere percentage points away from getting the 1-seed in the AA East (and who knows how that could have changed their fortune in the tournament). I'm giving this one to Dart.



Boys:Brendan Howard (Great Falls)

Brendan was 6th in the State in scoring and 2nd in Rebounding. He averaged a double-double as a freshman.


Girls:Natalie Klinker (Great Falls)

Natalie had a breakout game for the Lady Bison with a 15 point performance against Bozeman. She's got a bright future for Great Falls.



BOYS: Lukas Vining (Great Falls)

Last year Vining was 35th in the state in scoring at 8.1 ppg. This year he was among the top ten, spotted at 9th with 15.4 points per game. The scary thing is, he's got one more year left at Great Falls High.


GIRLS: Michaela Dowdy (Capital)

There is no one that improved more this year than Capital's Michaela Dowdy.

Last Year Dowdy averaged 6.6 points per game, which was 38th in the state. I guess that was kind of expected since she was playing behind All-Stater Kaye Bignell.

But this year she hit the gas pedal....and never took her foot off.

Dowdy had 17.7 points per game, finishing 3rd in the state in scoring in the regular season and worthy of being named to the All-State team. At one point she WAS the state's leading scorer. Carroll is going to love having her the next 4 years.

I just hope Carroll students will adopt her chant from Capital: "DOWDY DOWDY LET'S GET ROWDY."

At least I think that's how it went (Someone feel free to correct me. I can edit this post).

Speaking of chants.....there's a section for the best ones I heard. Just keep reading on.



Taylor Kumm (Great Falls)

This award goes to the best performer out of all the Senior Standout stories we did for Basketball this year. Taylor Kumm is a perfect example of one of my favorite quotes from Mark Twain: "It's not the size of the dog in the fight. It's the size of the fight in the dog." Taylor was solid for the Lady Bison when they needed her, scoring in double figures in all but one of their games at the State Tournament.



The Helena Bengals

At the end of the regular season, if I told you that the Helena High boys were going to place 3rd at the AA State tournament, would you have believed me?

If you said yes, you're a liar.

Nobody took them seriously. Not with an 8-13 overall record, 3-9 in conference. They finished as the 6-seed in the AA West.

Still, the Bengals never doubted themselves.

They beat No. 3 Sentinel to earn their first State berth since 2008.

And they made some NOISE.

1-seeded Billings West found that out first hand when they needed a buzzer beater to take down the Bengals in the State opener.

But then Helena beat Skyview. And then Glacier.

Then they flipped a switch and had their game of the year, taking down Billings West in the consolation finals to finish 3rd at State.

It was the best performance that I had ever seen from this squad. I knew they always had some GREAT athletes and it all finally came together as the season ended.

Kudos to you Helena High. You earned that trophy. It's their first one since 2001 when Steve Keller was still the coach.



Hunter Beto & Kyle Nickol (Capital)

This award goes to the most clutch performers. It goes to players who have ice in their veins.

Hunter Beto and Kyle Nickol STEPPED UP in crunch time in the state Championship game. They both hit a pair of 3 pointers and free throws to keep Hellgate's comeback at bay.



CMR Rustlers

They started the season 1-5 and came back to earn the 2-seed in the AA East.



Henry Garrett (Helena High)

Henry Garrett went from boy to man to beast mode at the AA State Tournament. With him in the paint, Garrett was able to contend with all those 6-footers that Billing West had. He was a presence in the paint and a force to be reckoned with. It will be interesting to see how he takes this confidence with him into his Senior year.



Troy Arntson and Chase South (Helena High)

With less than a minute left and Helena down by one, Troy Arntson got a key steal to give Helena a chance to win the game. Later, with the ball in the hands of Chase South, Arntson cut back door and South made a perfectly timed bounce pass to Arntson, who finished with a lay-up to give Helena High the lead for good. It helped the Bengals rally from a 10-point deficit.

Here's a still picture of the play

Click here to see the video of the play. It's the number 5 play.



Kyle Harrington (Capital)

Guess who had to guard Tres Tinkle in the State Title game? Kyle Harrington did. Would you want that assignment? I wouldn't. But Harrington did. And he did a damn good job despite Tinkle having a 6-inch height advantage.



 Helena High's Student Section

They drove about 3 hours to watch the 6-seeded Bengals place 3rd. If my high school team was a 6-seed, I'd think twice about making a road trip. But these fans were loyal, proud and LOUD. Kudos to the Helena High kids for showing up.

Here's a picture of some of the loyal Helena High faithful



Whoever it was that wore this Unicorn Mask. Click here to see the picture



Connor McAllister (CMR)

Nothing wrong with a little self-promotion. Click here to see his sign



Mercedes Bourgeau (Great Falls)

By far the best photo at the AA State Tournament.

Click here to see the picture

(EDITOR'S NOTE: Thanks to @ABourgeau for helping me correct the name of the person in the pic)




"LET'S PLAY FOOTBALL" (Made towards the Billings West Crowd)




"BORING! BORING!" (One Capital Cheerleader responded: "Your Mom is boring!")




(Let me know if I missed anything. Would be glad to update this part of the awards section)



Kirsten Kaste, Sammy Pietrykowski and Maggie Reilly (CMR)

Fun group of girls. They were so excited to get interviewed when I visited the Basketball practice at CMR. I mean.....it's hard to describe. But they were just.....fun!



McKenzie Johnston (Capital)

Let me make a disclaimer: Doing interviews are NOT easy.

When that camera turns on and a bright light shines in your face, it's hard for some people to be themselves. Some people are great when the "record" button is hit. But it's not for everyone.

I'm not 100% comfortable right before going on camera either.....and it's my JOB to be on camera! It's something that's a bit of a challenge to get used to.

When I first interviewed Kenzie when she was a Sophomore, she was giving us bytes that weren't long enough to use. Like 3-4 words kind of bytes.

As I got to know her at the practices when I was still in Helena, I would coach her through interviews. I'd tell her things like, "the more you talk, the more it helps us out" and "We're not live. So you can take your time thinking about what you want to say."

I think it worked.

Now that Kenzie is a Junior, her interviews have been baller status. She's rocking out 10-15-20 second sound bytes.....and it is NOT easy to talk that long.

Kudos to you Kenzie. Please keep improving....because I'm sure media outlets are going to want to talk to you a LOT in the future.



Jon Tester (Washington D.C.)

Last year U.S. Senator Jon Tester sent a letter to Capital Head Coach Guy Almquist congratulating him on winning the AA State Tournament.

Click Here to see the Letter Senator Tester sent to Coach Almquist

The problem was, Capital lost in the title game to Hellgate.

Well Senator Tester, now's your second chance to send a congratulatory letter to Coach Almquist. Just don't accidentally send one to Hellgate!


Click Here To See My Selections for AA Boys All-Tournament Team

Click Here To See My Selections for AA Girls All-Tournament Team


That's all I got.

Don't hate. Feel free to debate.

Want to discuss with me? Hit me up on twitter! @DerekOpina