Last year, I ventured out and tried something new heading into the basketball season. I selected my preseason all-state players. I know the all-state teams at the end of the year don’t have a set number of players included, but I kept my teams to five players in each class.
The nominations kind of took a life of their own in the Twittersphere, so I thought I would make the lists again this year.
To be clear, these lists don’t really mean anything. These are just players I expect to have really good seasons for the respective teams. I’ve talked to players, coaches, and other media members from across the state to help me come up with these lists. I thank everybody for their assistance, but mostly these are my opinions.
We’ll start with the girls selections. The boys will be in the following post.
The AA field was loaded with talent last year with the likes of Elle Tinkle, Shanae Gilham, Alexa Dawkins, and DJ Reinhardt highlighting my preseason all-state picks. This year probably doesn’t have the star power, but it’s still a really good crop of girls.
Amy Davis, Bozeman - Davis has some big shoes to fill, stepping in for the graduated Dawkins. She’s athletic and has a ton of upside. If the Idaho State commit can realize that potential this season, she’ll be one of the best players in Montana.
Diondra Denton, Great Falls CMR - After a stellar sophomore season, Denton plateaued a little bit last year. She’s a dangerous scorer and can hurt teams in multiple ways, so expect her to lead a solid Rustlers squad. Denton has committed to Minot State.
Cassidy Hashley, Kalispell Glacier - Hashley has put up some solid numbers the last couple of seasons and could be one of the best rebounders in the class. She was one of two AA girls to average a double-double last season, recording 13.6 points and 10.4 rebounds per game.
Rachel Koehler, Billings Senior - Koehler is super athletic and super aggressive on the basketball court. She likes to get to the basket, but has developed a better jump shot over the past couple of seasons. She’s headed to Cal Poly to play college basketball.
Olivia Roberts, Missoula Sentinel - Roberts was overshadowed by Reinhardt last season and rightfully so. But Roberts is a talented scorer and rebounder for the Spartans and should take on an even bigger role this season.
The Class A team was the toughest one for me to decide. Two of these players made the list last year, but I had a tough time trimming the rest of the team down to just three players as there were probably six or seven girls in consideration.
Justyn Juhl, Billings Central - Juhl flashed potential last season and could really turn some heads this year. She has the size and athleticism to play multiple positions on the floor and can score inside and out.
Courtney Moodry, Anaconda - This is Moodry’s second appearance on my preseason all-state team as she’s one of the best point guards in the state. Teams fear her passing and ability to run a team, but she’s a good shooter and can light it up from deep.
Lexi Prevost, Sidney - Prevost earned second-team all-conference honors in the Eastern A last year by putting up some huge scoring games. She might be one of the best players nobody talks about, but she can flat out score the basketball.
Alycia Sims, Stevensville - Like Moodry, Sims is on this list for the second year in a row. She’s already committed to Montana and can do a little bit of everything – score, rebound, and defend.
Vanessa Stavish, Frenchtown - I left Sarah Lester off this list last year. I’m not making that mistake with another Frenchtown girl. Stavish was a solid No. 2-scorer for the Broncs last season, but she’ll be elevated to No. 1 this year. She’ll do most of her damage in the post but can extend her range to the perimeter.
Even with some great players graduating, Class B is still in good hands. Jill Barta and Courtney Henry make this list for the second consecutive year, but there’s a lot of talent elsewhere in the state.
Jill Barta, Fairfield - Barta might be the best college prospect in the state regardless of class. She’s 6-foot-4 and (obviously) really affects games defensively. Offensively, Barta can score from anywhere, but she’s an adept passer, too.
Alisha Breen, Choteau - Breen put up monster numbers statistically last season – 18 points, 10 rebounds, six assists, and four steals per game. She does everything on the court, and her versatility makes her an asset for the Bulldogs. She recently committed to Montana State Billings.
Courtney Henry, Malta - Henry will join Breen at MSUB in the future, but she has one year left for the M’Ettes. She plays with a spark and has excellent ball control both dribbling and finishing around the rim.
Jacy Thompson, Townsend - I had multiple people call Thompson the “best point guard in the state.” She can dribble, shoot, pass, rebound – do a little bit of everything while not making very many mistakes for the Bulldogs.
Baylee Watson, Townsend - Another Bulldog makes the list. Watson is a 6-foot-2 post player who should lead Townsend in scoring and rebounding. She’ll be playing her college ball at Carroll College.
Class C isn’t terribly deep this year. There isn’t a Peyton Ferris-type player in this class. How often does a player like that come around? But there are some really good players. This was another tough one to trim the list down to five, as I debated over about eight to 10 players.
Martha Dembek, Winnett-Grass Range - Dembek might be the most versatile player in Class C. She’s an efficient scorer, but her impact might be more strongly felt when she’s acting as a facilitator on offense.
Makhayla Farmer, Chinook - Farmer committed to Montana State Northern this summer after setting Chinook’s record for blocked shots (50) in a single season. The 6-foot-1 junior could average a double-double this season with points and rebounds.
Katie Fertterer, Belt - Fertterer is a terrific all-around athlete, and she kind of sets the tone for the Huskies. She’s a lockdown defender and aggressive on the offensive end.
Kara Gerke, Belt - Gerke is just one of a handful of great shooters on coach Jeff Graham’s Belt team. She’s a quick, explosive athlete who can get into passing lanes on defense and really pressure opponents on offense.
Masyn Klose, Fairview - Fairview just keeps churning out good basketball players. Klose isn’t the biggest girl in Class C, but she has decent size and is a tough rebounder.