State Champion Bigfork Coach Picked to Lead Flathead Bravettes

Sam Tudor led Vikings to Class B state titles in 2018 and 2019; Dirk Johnsrud selected to lead Flathead boys

By Andy Viano
Sam Tudor speaks to his players during Bigfork basketball practice on Feb. 15, 2018. Greg Lindstrom | Flathead Beacon

The new head coach of the Flathead Bravettes basketball team is bringing a championship pedigree to Kalispell.

Sam Tudor, who led the Bigfork Vikings to back-to-back Class B state titles in 2018 and 2019 during a highly successful five-year run, has been picked to replace Tricia Dean at Flathead High School, it was announced on Friday. Tudor’s hiring is subject to school board approval.

The 43-year-old resigned as Bigfork’s head coach in April 2019 and left that job with a 111-14 record in five seasons. Tudor’s teams reached the state championship game three times and his 2017-18 team finished with a perfect 24-0 record.

The son of a successful Montana basketball coach, Chip Tudor, Sam graduated from Cascade High School and played college football before embarking on his own coaching career. The younger Tudor was an assistant girls coach at Seeley-Swan High School before arriving in Bigfork and joining the Vikings program in 2011 as an assistant coach.

Tudor resigned from Bigfork at least in part because of the demands placed on head coaches. Even at the time, however, he insisted his coaching career was not over, and just one year later Tudor will inherit a Bravettes team that has been to the Class AA state tournament only once (2013) in the last 11 seasons. He will be Flathead’s fourth head coach since 2013.

In a statement announcing Tudor’s hiring, Flathead Activities Director Bryce Wilson said the new coach “wants to develop the program to be a consistent team that competes at state every year.”

The Bravettes went 4-16 last season and lose top scorer Jenna Johnson to graduation, but Flathead had two freshmen (Akilah Kubi and Maddy Moy) play significant minutes in all 20 games last year, and the team’s second-leading scorer was sophomore Clare Converse.

Dean went 25-56 in four seasons with the Bravettes.

Flathead also hired a new boys basketball coach on Friday, naming Dirk Johnsrud to the top job.

Johnsrud worked under Dean last season as the freshman girls coach and had been the boys junior varsity coach the previous four years. Wilson wrote that Johnsrud “wants to build a brand of basketball that is exciting and fills the stands with orange and black.”

The Braves were 3-17 last season but should return their top three scorers in Gabe Adams, Joston Cripe and Hunter Hickey. That trio was responsible for more than 63 percent of Flathead’s scoring in 2019-20.

Johnsrud replaces Ross Gustafson, who went 41-65 at Flathead, reaching the state tournament in 2017.

Stay Connected with the Daily Roundup.

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