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Billings Skyview golf coach Kas Ioane says he keeps telling his teams that it’s the finish that counts, not the start.

So with that in mind, Ioane hopes his boys team is on its way to a strong finish.

“We’ve been playing well and had just a couple weeks where we didn’t do what we were supposed to do,” Ioane said. “But last week in Bozeman they just came around. For us, last week was a start and we’re going to go up to Great Falls and try to finish it off.”

Ioane’s Falcons won the Bozeman Invitational last week, their first tournament win, with an 11-shot cushion over West as golf’s regular season came to a close. The State AA tournament begins Friday at Meadow Lark Country Club and concludes Saturday at Eagle Falls Golf Club in Great Falls, and Ioane expects his team, along with West and Senior, to battle favorite Kalispell Glacier for the team title.

“To me, personally, we have three of the top four teams in the state” in Billings, Ioane said. “That’s not a discredit to anybody else. There’s tough competition here. To beat West and Senior last week in Bozeman was great for us.”

First-year West coach Lance Edward, whose boys team is the defending state champ, echoed Ioane.

“I think everyone’s pretty much chasing Glacier,” he said. “But the three Billings schools … golf is very healthy in Yellowstone County. You get the right kind of momentum going, anything can happen.”

The Senior and West girls have proven that as well, all season long. They’ve virtually played leapfrog with one another for tournament titles this season, with the Golden Bears picking up a 10-shot victory last week at Bozeman.

Just as the boys teams will have to find a way to deal with Glacier, so too, will the girls.

“It’s going to be very fun to watch,” Edward said of the girls team race. “I’m very excited.”

Senior sophomore Kortney McNeil is the defending medalist. She’ll have plenty of competition from the likes of teammate Sammy Walter, Butte’s Hailey Hoagland, Glacier’s Teigan Avery, Capital’s Coral Schultz and West’s Hannah Zwemke, among others.

“Those big names are going to be in there at the end, for sure,” Edward said. “There are some really talented girls in this state, and they all want to get better.”

There are plenty of challengers for boys medalist honors, which was left vacant when three-time winner Brandon McIver graduated from West. Glacier’s Logan Iverson and Ryan Porch have had good seasons, and so too have Austin and Tanner Berg of West, Hunter Anderson and Sean Benson of Senior, and Skyview’s Parker Bradbury, Payton Stott and Cole Lorenz, who all had a strong showing last weekend.

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Billings Mustangs, High School Sports Reporter

Sports writer for The Billings Gazette, covering high school sports and the Billings Mustangs.