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Sophia Stiles

Sophia Stiles of Malta (right) was chosen the Gatorade Montana Player of the Year for girls basketball last year.

MISSOULA — Malta's Sophia Stiles, who was named 2015-2016 Gatorade Girls' Basketball Player of the Year for Montana, has made a verbal commitment to play for the Montana Lady Griz starting in the fall of 2017.

"The decision was actually kind of a long one and I went back and forth between UM and MSU for a long time," the 5-foot-9 senior guard told the Missoulian. "I think Missoula is just where I belong.

"The long tradition of excellence that they have as a program was a big factor in my decision. They also have an amazing fan base and that is awesome. The coaches and girls were all so nice and seemed like a great group of people to spend many days with."

Stiles averaged close to 17.1 points per game as a junior, along with averaging over 5.6 assists, 5.1 steals and 4.4 rebounds. The M-Ettes finished with a perfect 27-0 record and won the State B tournament for the second straight season, beating Fairfield in the title game, 49-47.

"Sophia impacts the game on both ends, as she is long, fast and has outstanding court awareness, all of which complement her high basketball IQ,” Fairfield coach Dustin Gordon told "All (last) year, she demonstrated a much improved shooting touch and level of consistency that (made) her so dangerous and extremely difficult to defend."

Taylor Goligoski of Hamilton won the Gatorade award for the 2014-15 season and she is also a Lady Griz player. Goligoski red-shirted last season.

Stiles is the first recruit for first-year Montana head coach Shannon Schweyen. The lefty informed Schweyen of her decision to play at Montana on Sunday night and expects to sign on the dotted line sometime in November during the NCAA early signing period.

Stiles is following in the footsteps of three ex-Lady Griz that prepped at Malta, including Greta (Koss) Buehler, Skyla Sisco and Linda (Cummings) Hudyma. Stiles said she is proud to continue that legacy and believes she still has a lot to improve on in her floor game before heading to Missoula.

"I've been working on my ball handling and shooting in this off season," said the senior, who will join forces once again with forward Hailey Nicholson, a Malta grad and true freshman for the Lady Griz. "I'm hoping to raise my shooting percentage from last year."

This past spring, Stiles led the Malta girls to its first Class B state track and field titles since 2000. She won the triple jump for a third straight year, along with winning state titles in the long jump and 300 hurdles. She was second in the 100 hurdles.

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