Flathead, Glacier meet in Western AA divisional
By KATIE BROWN
The Daily Inter Lake
It’s a first round crosstown clash for Flathead and Glacier girls hoops as the Western AA divisional kicks off at Glacier High School on Thursday.
Tip-off for the No. 6 Bravettes and No. 3 Wolfpack is scheduled for 3:30 p.m.
Glacier won both crosstown meetings with the Bravettes during this year’s regular season but most coaches will say that it’s all a clean slate come tournament time. Only four teams will earn a spot at the state tournament.
“I think every year at tournaments you see crazy things happen,” Bravettes coach Tricia Dean said. “It’s all about who’s going to play best during those three days.”
Wolfpack coach Bill Sullivan agrees.
“Everyone’s 0-0 and looking for a win,” Sullivan said. “Flathead is no different.”
Glacier finished the season strong with a pair of victories and an 8-4 conference record. The Wolfpack (12-6 overall) beat Missoula Sentinel 39-36 on Thursday and Missoula Hellgate 44-34 on Friday.
“We’re going to do the things that we do well,” Sullivan said of the matchup with Flathead. “Crosstown adds a little more to it. That’s gonna be an exciting game.”
Glacier beat Flathead 32-24 on Jan. 11 at Glacier High School and 44-30 on Feb. 5 at Flathead.
The Bravettes (6-12, 2-10) ended the season with losses to Hellgate and Sentinel. But Dean was encouraged by some of the things she saw in the 46-29 loss to Hellgate on Friday.
“I think the girls played really hard but we made a couple key mistakes,” Dean said. “They saw that if they bring the same effort and energy, good things will happen.”
To prepare for the tournament, Dean is trying to keep things simple in practice and just tweak a few things.
“We’re not trying to reinvent the wheel,” she said.
Focusing on defense, something that’s been up and down for the Bravettes during regular season play, is something Dean said she’d like to improve in the postseason.
“We started out good and then hit a lull (defensively),” Dean said.
Dean praised Glacier’s defensive play, a point of strength for the Wolfpack. Glacier dealt top-ranked Helena its only loss of the season on Feb. 15 and in the process, held top scorer Jamie Pickens to 11 points. Helena typically scored in the 50-point range but Glacier held the Bengals to 31 points.
“Defensively we are good,” Sullivan said. “If we stay solid defensively, good things have happened for us, especially down the stretch.”
He added: “Our offense could be better.”
Sullivan isn’t going to allow playing in front of a home crowd interrupt the focus of the weekend – winning and being one of the four teams who make it to the state tournament.
“It’s nice to be in our home gym but all those other teams aren’t going to care,” he said. “It’s a different level of intensity focus no matter whose gym it is. It’s win or go home.”