Best of Preps – Winter 2012

By Beacon Staff

Shane St. Onge (Sr., Glacier) STATS: Class AA 160-pound state champion
Winter 2012 Best of Preps

Two years ago, St. Onge battled back from a terrible car crash, rehabbing intensely so he could play football and wrestle again. Then he was struck again by misfortune when he suffered a large blood clot in his shoulder. But once again, he battled back, readying himself for his senior year. A young man on a mission, St. Onge achieved his childhood dream: winning a Montana state wrestling title. He will likely study political science or pre-law in college, though he doesn’t plan to wrestle.

St. Onge on winning the state title: “That was always the goal I’ve had since I was 6 years old – to be a high school state champion. When it happened, the feeling was kind of indescribable, to tell you the truth.”

Larry Francis (Sr., Flathead) STATS: Class AA 171-pound state champion, Jug Beck Rocky Mountain Classic winner.
Winter 2012 Best of Preps

Francis was nearly flawless on the wrestling mat and joined the long list of state champions from Flathead. The 171-pound senior lost only one match all season and won titles at both the state tournament and the all-class Jug Beck Rocky Mountain Classic, arguably the toughest tournament in Montana. Only six Braves have won Jug Beck titles in the last four years. Francis, who began wrestling at the age of 4, has also placed second at state twice, second at the Jug Beck and second at Tri-State.

Francis on his lifelong passion for wrestling: “I’ve just always loved it. It’s all on you.”

Gage Vasquez (Sr., Whitefish, 6’5″ forward) STATS: Class A all-state, 18.6 points, 8.2 rebounds, 2.2 steals.
Winter 2012 Best of Preps

In a family of wrestlers, Vasquez established a strong athletic pedigree all his own, particularly in basketball. The Whitefish senior was the second-leading scorer in the state, averaging 18.6 points per game. He led Northwestern A in rebounds with 8.2 boards a game. Vasquez is close to deciding whether to play basketball or football in college.

Vasquez on scoring 10 of Whitefish’s final 16 points, including the game-winner, in an overtime victory at the divisional semifinals: “What was going through my mind was, ‘It can’t end here.’ I wanted to make state and that just drove me and put me in the zone to do whatever I could.”

George Sherwood (Sr., Flathead, 6’4″ forward) STATS: Class AA all-state, 15.2 points, 5.7 rebounds, 2.7 steals.
Winter 2012 Best of Preps

Sherwood was the leading scorer and rebounder on a Braves team that made a memorable run through the postseason. After sneaking into the state tourney with an 11-10 record, the Braves won two straight games, including a 63-58 victory over rival Glacier in the semifinals. In the state title game, the run ended with a 61-48 loss to Billings West. Sherwood said he’s not going to play football in college, as was previously believed, and instead will play basketball at the University of Montana.

Sherwood on making it to the state title game: “You can’t describe the feeling. It was like a dream. I had to keep pinching myself. It didn’t even feel real.”

Parker Johnson (Sr., Columbia Falls, 6’0″ guard) STATS: Class A all-state, 9.7 points, 3.8 assists, 2.6 steals.
Winter 2012 Best of Preps

Over the last four years, Columbia Falls has played in three Class A state championship games, winning in 2011, and has won four straight divisional titles. Johnson, the team’s all-state point guard, is part of a senior group (Austin Barth, Anthony Correa, Brian Marcille, Ronny Gallegos) that graduates with a 77-16 record and only one loss at home over the last three years.

Johnson on Columbia Falls’ strong crowd presence at home and away games: “It’s so much fun to play with a big crowd like we always have. It can definitely give you an extra boost out on the court.”

Ian Lorang (Sr., Bigfork, 5’11” guard) STATS: Class B all-state, 12.5 points, 3 assists.
Winter 2012 Best of Preps

Under a third head coach in four years, Lorang and the Vikings continued to dominate the Class B ranks. Bigfork went undefeated against Class B teams in the regular season but finished short of the state tournament. The Vikings fell victim to two buzzer beaters in the postseason, first in the District 7B title game and then in the semifinals of the Western B divisional.

Lorang on losing two close games in the postseason: “I still kind of replay all of those games in my head and think how it could have been different.”

Ryan Edwards (Jr., Glacier, 6’11” post) STATS: Class AA all-state, 13.3 points, 10.7 rebounds, 3 blocks.
Winter 2012 Best of Preps

Every time Edwards steps onto the court, he knows he’ll be the tallest player, which means he’ll attract a lot of attention from the defense. This season he grew more adept at handling that defensive pressure, leading the Wolfpack in scoring. He also led the state in rebounds and blocks. Edwards is already getting Division I attention. Expect a big season from the big man next year.

Edwards on the prospects of growing: “The doctor said I still have two to three inches to go.”

Nicole Heavirland (Jr., Glacier, 5’6″ guard) STATS: Class AA all-state, 13 points, 2.2 rebounds.
Winter 2012 Best of Preps

Whether it’s stepping into the boxing ring or playing rugby, Heavirland has shown she isn’t afraid of much. But even she felt butterflies when the Wolfpack played at the state tournament for the first time in the program’s history. Still, Heavirland scored a team-high 16 points against undefeated Bozeman in the state opener, which Glacier lost. She averaged 13 points in 22 games and scored 20 points or more five times.

Heavirland on playing at the state tournament for the first time: “At first it’s pretty scary, but you get used to it.”

Cassi Hashley (Soph., Glacier, 6’1″ post) STATS: Western AA second team all-conference, 13.6 points, 10.4 rebounds.
Winter 2012 Best of Preps

Only a sophomore, Hashley has already broken her older sister Emilee’s career rebounding school record. More importantly, she played an instrumental role on a team that made it to the first state tournament in the program’s history. Hashley, who finished in the top five in the state in scoring and rebounding, has two more years to add to her school records and her team’s number of state tournament appearances.

Hashley on advancing to the program’s first state tournament: “It was probably the happiest moment of my life. We made history.”

Melissa VanDerveer (Sr., Bigfork, 5’7″ forward) STATS: Class B all-state, 11 points, 8.4 rebounds.
Winter 2012 Best of Preps

After losing a number of seniors from last year’s team, few people expected Bigfork to be a state contender this season. But the Valkyries, led by VanDerveer and her fellow seniors, emerged as one of the top teams in Class B and made a run to the state tournament, where they lost two close games by scores of 44-40 and 35-32. VanDerveer plans to study education at Montana State University.

VanDerveer on the successful, if not surprising, season: “A lot of people thought we wouldn’t make it very far. I think we proved them wrong.”

Hope Burlage (Jr., Columbia Falls, 5’9″ forward) STATS: Northwestern A second team all-conference, 11.9 points, 8 rebounds.
Winter 2012 Best of Preps

Entering the season, Burlage was the only player on the Wildkats’ roster with significant varsity experience. Not only that, the Wildkats were transitioning to a new coach, with Cary Finberg deciding to coach both boys and girls. All signs pointed to a rebuilding year, yet the team managed to finish the regular season with a .500 conference record. Burlage led the team in scoring and was third overall in the conference.

Burlage on the team’s performance this season: “Even though it was a building year, it was a good year. I think it gave us confidence for next year.”

Taylor Peck (Sr., Bigfork, 5’5″ guard) STATS: Class B all-state, 10.4 points, 2.7 steals.
Winter 2012 Best of Preps

Peck was an invaluable senior leader for the Valkyries. The guard broke the Bigfork school record for 3-pointers in a game with six against Columbia Falls and in a season with 44 total. Peck was just as productive on defense as well, averaging nearly three steals per game. Like her teammate VanDerveer, she plans to study education at Montana State University.

Peck on the Valkyries playing well as a team: “We would always joke that our only strength was winning. We didn’t really excel in one area but we did enough to win.”

Logan Streit (Jr., Glacier) STATS: Fourth in state in 100 freestyle, fifth in 50 freestyle, sixth in 400 freestyle relay.
Winter 2012 Best of Preps

Since he was a freshman, Logan Streit has been one of the most dominant swimmers in western Montana. The Glacier junior has collected nine medals at the state swim meet, including two state titles. He was undefeated through seven meets until the final two weeks of the season. At state, he placed fourth in the 100 freestyle, fifth in the 50 free and sixth in the 400 relay.

Streit on what it takes to succeed in swimming: “You don’t have to be the strongest person. You have to know how to grab the water without catching air.”

Maxie Sgroggs (Sr., Glacier) STATS: Fourth in 100 backstroke, seven individual titles at Montana Swimming Short Course State Championships.
Winter 2012 Best of Preps

Scroggs started swimming when she was 2 years old. By the age of 4, she was qualifying for statewide competitions. She carried that early-age success into high school, where she started placing in the top 10 in state events as a freshman, culminating in this year’s strong performance at the high school state meet and the Montana Swimming Short Course State Championships. Scroggs will swim at Whittier College in Southern California.

Scroggs on qualifying for a state competition at the age of 4: “After that, swimming was my life. I stopped being good at land sports.”

Stay Connected with the Daily Roundup.

Sign up for our newsletter and get the best of the Beacon delivered every day to your inbox.