After a recent practice, Jaxen Hashley was the last player remaining in the team room at Glacier High School. The 6-foot-6, 240-pound senior was huddled in front of a large poster board schedule of the Wolfpack’s basketball season tacked to the wall.
One by one, he pasted miniature jerseys on the board, signifying a standout performance against each of the team’s recent opponents. The schedule, almost already halfway completed, looked worthy of a family scrapbook — Hashley, 19 points; Hashley, 23 points; Hashley, 21 points.
No doubt, Glacier’s versatile and towering post player is making a mark on his final basketball season, averaging roughly 18 points and 12 rebounds per game. But the stat that makes Hashley smile widest is Glacier’s team record so far — 8-1 overall, 2-0 in the Western AA conference.
“I got to enjoy the moment right now, playing with my friends,” Hashley said. “We’ve all been pretty good friends and we’re a tight-knit group. Everybody says, ‘You always want to finish the best you can as a team,’ and that’s obviously a goal of ours — playing on Saturday night.”
Approaching the halfway point of the season, Glacier is tied atop the conference standings with Missoula Sentinel (3-4 overall, 2-0 in Western AA) and Flathead (6-4 overall, 2-0 in conference).
In an impressive and rare performance, Kalispell’s two boys teams stormed Helena last weekend and swept Helena’s squads to tip off the conference schedule. Glacier defeated Helena Capital 44-35 and Helena High 48-31. Hashley had 17 points and 11 rebounds against Helena, shooting 70 percent from the field, and Kody Jarvis scored 20 points against Capital.
Flathead cruised past Helena 66-54, paced by Tyler Johnson and Wyatt Potter, who both scored 20, and defeated Capital 50-44, led by Eric Seaman, who scored 14.
Both local teams are poised for postseason runs with similar styles: big, talented players down low and skillful shooters in the backcourt.
For Glacier, having Hashley in the post opens up an exciting offense that head coach Mark Harkins is deploying with a deep roster.
“(Hashley) just opens everything up. He’s such a great low post player,” Harkins said.
“Teams have to react to that, and that opens up our shooters on the outside. You have to pick your poison — you can collapse on Jaxen, or do you want to play out on the perimeter? We’ll take either one and that makes it fun.”
Glacier definitely has skill surrounding their powerful post. Six players have scored in double figures for the Pack this season. Senior Tadan Gilman is averaging nearly 10 points per game. Jarvis and Caden Harkins — both juniors — are each averaging more than six points apiece. Junior Brec Rademacher and senior Torin Bowden are approaching five points per game apiece.
“We have a lot of guys who can step up,” Harkins said. “We have great depth.”
Over at Flathead, Johnson, Potter and Sam Elliott are each averaging more than 10 points per game for the resurgent Braves.
While seeing success for local teams on the hardwood, Kalispell fans are also getting a final glimpse of the area’s latest great athlete in Hashley, who is an all-state Class AA player in both football and basketball. Hashley is following in the footsteps of his successful sisters — Holly, Emilee and Cassidy — as well as his father, Doug.
Doug and his wife, Bekki, have certainly raised quite the athletic family. After a standout career at Flathead, Holly played volleyball at Carroll College. Emilee, a standout at Glacier, played volleyball at Montana Tech, and Cassi, another multi-sport standout at Glacier, is dominating on the basketball court in her junior year at Carroll College.
Jaxen grew up watching and competing against his talented sisters and learned to hold his own at a young age. He also played on a successful travel team with friends and current teammates, including Gilman.
“Lately, Cassi and I have played a lot during summers on our old hoop,” Jaxen said. “She’s taught me a lot of stuff.”
He’s also had quite the mentor and role model right across the dinner table in Doug.
Doug Hashley, who grew up in Big Sandy, is a member of the Montana State University Hall of Fame. Hashley played basketball from 1978-82 and was first team All-Big Sky Conference in 1981 and second-team all-conference in two other seasons. He remains MSU’s second-leading rebounder of all time.
Fans who remember watching Doug play would recognize a similar style in his son, Jaxen — a big, powerful presence in the paint with a grittiness that reflects a competitive spirit and work ethic.
“You can learn a lot of skills, but you have to have the mental toughness to get through the grind and get better in the weight room and work hard,” Doug Hashley said. “I hope that’s what I’ve given all of (my children).”
Jaxen used his father’s words of wisdom during his difficult return from a knee injury, which he suffered during his junior football season. The rehabilitation and recovery was harder than anything he’s had to overcome.
“That was easily the hardest thing I’ve gone through,” Hashley said. “(My father) told me from the beginning he would be there for me. But he said it wouldn’t be easy and he wouldn’t feel sorry for me, and that I had to get through it.”
Hashley pushed through and returned for a stellar senior season. He recorded 54.5 total tackles and 8.5 sacks and helped lead Glacier back to the state championship game for the third time in four seasons.
“I was worried (about returning from injury), but I remember the first day I came back during football season, the whole team was there for me. I knew I would have support through the whole thing,” he said.
“Obviously we would have liked the final game to go differently. But it was a great season. You can’t complain too much — playing your last high school football game on the last weekend of the season.”
Now Hashley, who has committed to play college football, is in the midst of his final season on the hardwood. He’s appreciating every moment. Down to the last stretch of games, he has a handful of miniature jerseys ready to be pinned on the wall.