For the third straight year the Beacon has selected Flathead County all-star boys and girls basketball teams. We chose five starters, based on their performances this season and by their positions, along with five reserves. If a statewide tournament between counties existed, these are the teams we would send.
Shay Smithwick-Hann (Sr., Glacier, 6’4” forward) – Class AA all-state, 15.1 points, 9.2 rebounds, 54.8 percent field goals
Smithwick-Hann finished seventh in the state in scoring, third in rebounding, seventh in blocks, fourth in field-goal percentage and seventh in three-point percentage. Those statistics show his versatility on the basketball court, though perhaps an even bigger testament to his athletic versatility is his recruitment to play football at the University of Montana. An all-state quarterback in high school, Smithwick-Hann has been told he’ll have a chance to play quarterback for the Grizzlies, but could also play tight end.
Smithwick-Hann on his basketball career coming to an end: “I’ll miss just being in the gym and playing with all those guys you’ve played with since fourth or fifth grade. And I’ll miss the bus trips with buddies.”
Kyle Howell (Sr., Columbia Falls, 5’11” guard) – 11.4 points, 4.9 rebounds, 51 percent three-pointers
Howell was the leading scorer on a balanced Wildcats team that won the Northwestern A divisional tournament and finished third at state. Howell is a solid ball handler and a terrific outside shooter. Most importantly, he dictated the tempo for the Wildcats all year. While colleges have spoken to him about playing receiver or safety, he hopes to get offers for basketball.
Howell on being a point guard: “You’re in control of the ball and you can control the tempo of the game, instead of just watching.”
Christian Ker (Jr., Bigfork, 6’3” guard) – Class B all-state
Ker is a tall guard with a nice touch from three-point range. He was one of the leaders in District 7-B in three-pointers and scoring. While Bigfork had a number of scorers this year, Ker, with his size and range, proved to be especially difficult to guard. Also the quarterback of the football team, he hopes to play basketball in college.
Ker on the difference between football and basketball: “I’m always nervous for football, but for basketball I play more freely. It’s more for me.”
Karl Ingram (Sr., Flathead, 6’3” forward) – Class AA all-state, 13.1 points, 6.9 rebounds, 49 percent field goals
Ingram helped lead the Braves to an impressive turnaround, making it to the state tournament a year after finishing 3-18. Ingram is a solid post presence with a soft touch. If left open, his mid-range jumper is deadly. He’s also a strong rebounder. Now Ingram’s basketball career is over. A brainy kid, he’s deciding whether to attend the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology or the University of Pennsylvania.
Ingram on basketball as a form of expression: “You can play as physical or with as much finesse as you want. It’s kind of expressing yourself.”
Connor Silliker (Sr., Whitefish, 6’5” post) – First team all-conference, 12.7 points, 8.1 rebounds, 37.8 percent field goals
Silliker is the nephew of Whitefish and Lady Grizzly great Dawn Silliker. Growing up, he admired his aunt and the coaching prowess of former Bulldogs coach and family friend Julio Delgado. Basketball seemed liked his calling. Colleges are interested in him as either a tight end in football or for basketball. But even though his dad played football for the Grizzlies, he’s leaning toward basketball.
Silliker on his love of basketball: “It’s just the atmosphere and everything else. I love the game.”
Kayla DeWit (Jr., Columbia Falls, 6’1” forward) – Class A all-state, 19.1 points, 11.3 rebounds, 44.4 percent field goals
Named all-state for the second straight year, DeWit is gearing up for a sensational senior season. She is already on the radar of several colleges, including Montana State University. DeWit has been invited to travel with a Northwest U.S. all-star AAU team this summer, a supreme honor for a Montana hoopster. With her work ethic and skills, expect DeWit to post big numbers next year.
DeWit on her sister joking that she’s obsessed with basketball: “I have a life other than basketball, but basketball is definitely a passion. I enjoy every part of it.”
Mallery Knoll (Jr., Bigfork, 5’6” guard) – Class B all-state, 14.1 points, 4.2 steals, 4.5 rebounds
Knoll, a premier sprinter in track, uses her speed on the basketball court to routinely blow past defenders and wreak havoc on defense. She has quick hands and plays the passing lanes superbly. In a single game in divisionals, she had nine steals. Despite being only 5-6, Knoll was Bigfork’s second-leading rebounder, a reflection of her tenacity. Also a volleyball and track star, Knoll hopes to play one of the three sports in college.
Knoll on the tempo of basketball: “I love the speed, I love the fast pace, I love running and I love the game.”
Tess Brenneman (So., Flathead, 5’7” guard) – 8.2 points, 4.9 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 2.7 steals
As a sophomore point guard, Brenneman ranked sixth in the state in assists during the regular season and second in steals. While asking a sophomore to run an offense at the Class AA level is always a tall order, Brenneman excelled at the task this year and will only get better in the next two seasons. Brenneman also plays soccer. In track, she is already one of the fastest sprinters in the state.
Brenneman on the team nature of basketball: “There are so many things you can do to contribute to the team. You don’t have to be tall or the best ball handler.”
Rachel Cutler (Jr., Glacier, 5’8” guard/forward) – Honorable mention Class AA all-conference, 10.2 points, 2.5 steals, 38.6 percent three-pointers
Like her older brother Ben, who starred at Glacier and now plays at Carroll College, Cutler is a sharpshooter from three-point range. She finished 5th in Class AA in three-point percentage and 10th in three-pointers made. She was also one of the state leaders in steals. Cutler would like to her family footsteps and play in college.
Cutler on playing three-on-three games with her basketball-driven family growing up: “It gave me a huge love for the game. Basketball is what I’ve grown up with and known my whole life.”
Kelsey DeWit (Sr., Columbia Falls, 6’0” post) – Class A all-state, 14.3 points, 13.4 rebounds, 3.1 blocks
The older sister of Kayla, DeWit is a talented low-post scorer and a great rebounder. She led the conference in rebounds, edging out her sister by a full two boards. Unlike her sister, she hasn’t always had firm dreams of playing college basketball. But when opportunity called, she answered. DeWit has accepted a scholarship to play basketball at Montana Tech in Butte. She plans to major in biology and then go to medical school.
DeWit on Tech fulfilling both her academic and athletic wishes: “It’s definitely the right school for me. It’s a hard school and a good school – it’s not just for basketball.”
Northwest Montana is a perennial stronghold for wrestling, producing a long list of top-ranked grapplers each year. This season was no different. But amid all of Flathead Valley’s talented wrestlers, two stood above the rest and cemented their place in the record books. We’d like to introduce you to Shawn Lau and Kelly Houle.
Shawn Lau (Sr., Flathead) – 140-pound Class AA champion in 2010, three-time Class AA state champion (tied for school record)
Before the season, Lau nearly cut his thumb off gutting a deer. He had surgery, rested and then was back on the wrestling mat. Then he tore the meniscus and ACL in his right knee. Again, he rested, put on a brace and then won the state championship on a bum knee. After the season, he had surgery to repair his knee. Now he’s rehabbing and trying to decide where he’ll wrestle in college. He finishes with three state titles and a second-place finish in 2008.
Lau on winning the state title with a torn meniscus and ACL: “I just tried not to think about it and just wrestled normal – as normal as I could.”
Kelly Houle (Sr., Columbia Falls) – 215-pound Class A state champion in 2010, second-place finishes in 2008 and 2009
After losing in the championship match in consecutive years, Houle came into 2009-2010 with a simple mission: finish the job at state. Not only did Houle finish the job by pinning Frenchtown’s Brennan Fisher in the title match, he broke the school record for pins in one season. Houle had 32 pins this year, breaking the previous record of 31. Houle was 38-2 on the season and finishes his four-year career with a 138-23 record. He will play football at UM-Western.
Houle on winning the state title on his third try: “I saw the referee’s hand go down and slap the mat and I was like, ‘I finally got it done.’ I looked over at my dad and he was jumping up and down in circles.”
Other Regional Placers
-Caleb Allen-Schmid, Flathead, 160 pounds, Class AA
-Caleb Piasecki, Flathead, 112 pounds, Class AA
-Joaquin Calderon, Flathead, 130 pounds, Class AA
-Logan Clay, Glacier, 171 pounds, Class AA
-Dan Gilbert, Glacier, heavyweight, Class AA
-Kaleb Mitchell, Glacier, 98 pounds, Class AA
-Cody Tally, Flathead, 125 pounds, Class AA
-Jeremiah Gaiser, Flathead, 145 pounds, Class AA
-Larry Francis, Flathead, 171 pounds, Class AA
-Connor Thomas, Flathead, heavyweight, Class AA
-Sunny Cheff, Flathead, 112 pounds, Class AA
-Zack Deist, Flathead, 152 pounds, Class AA
-Tanner Benedict, Whitefish, 160 pounds, Class A
-Josh Erickson, Flathead, 160 pounds, Class AA
-Travis Ozegovich, Flathead, 215 pounds, Class AA
Though no Flathead Valley swimmer claimed an individual title at the state swim meet this winter, Flathead and Glacier each placed a number of swimmers in Class AA’s highest ranks. For boys, senior Kyle Brady wrapped up his career with an impressive showing, while sophomore Maxie Scroggs introduced herself as a force to be reckoned with.
Kyle Brady (Sr., Glacier) – fifth at Class AA meet in 100 yard freestyle (51.66), eighth in 200 yard freestyle (1:54.82), member of multiple state-placing relay teams
Brady was one of the Wolfpack’s senior leaders this year and helped fill the void that Phil Rempe left behind. Rempe was one of the top swimmers in Class AA last year. Both individually and on relays, Brady has been part of several school-record efforts. After more than 12 years of competitive swimming, Brady has no plans to swim in college.
Brady on what draws him to swimming: “It’s a real individual sport. Your coaches can only help you so much. The rest is you and how hard you work.”
Maxie Scroggs (So., Glacier) – sixth at Class AA meet in 100 yard backstroke (1:04.97), seventh in 100 yard butterfly (1:04.70), member of multiple state-placing relay teams
Scroggs is on the fast track to stardom. On top of her achievements at the Class AA state meet as a sophomore, Scroggs is also ranked second in the state in the backstroke in her age group through her Kalispell Aquatic Team (KATS). Scroggs swims more than two hours per day during the week all year round. Swimming is only her sport.
Scroggs on swimming: “It’s something I can do when I’m mad and when I’m happy. It’s my leveler.”
Other Regional Placers
-Michael Scaccia, Flathead, fifth in 100 yard breaststroke (1:06.18)
-Lars Thorderson, Flathead, sixth in 100 yard backstroke (59.42)
-Logan Streit, Glacier, seventh in 50 yard freestyle (24.16), eighth in 100 yard freestyle (52:42)
-Brian Hoffman, Glacier, seventh in 100 yard butterfly (59.93), 11th in 200 yard freestyle (1:58.74)
-Ben Mason, Flathead, eighth in 100 yard butterfly (1:00.24)
-Jordan Loyda, Flathead, eighth in 500 yard freestyle (5:15.89)
-Aaron Murry, Glacier, 12th in 50 yard freestyle (24.65), 12th in 100 yard freestyle (53.90)
-Karl Boveng, Flathead, 12th in 100 yard backstroke (1:05.06)
-MaKenna Siebenaler, Glacier, sixth in 50 yard freestyle (26.47), ninth in 100 yard freestyle (59:32)
-Ashley Judd, Flathead, seventh in Flathead 100 yard breaststroke (1:13.36), ninth in 200 yard freestyle (2:08.62)
-Shea Stevens, Glacier, eighth in 100 yard butterfly (1:05.10)
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