Last weekend crowns state softball, tennis champions

The final weekend of the Montana High School Association sports calendar saw champions crowned in softball and tennis in addition to the state track meets already reported here.
Rainy weather was bothersome to all competitions being held the last weekend of 2022-23 school athletics in Montana. Perseverance by all involved assured the championships were decided and place-winners rewarded.
In Helena, Kalispell Glacier won its first state Class AA softball championship with a 19-7 win over Helena High in the tournament championship game. Glacier beat the Bengals 10-0 earlier to gain the inside track to the title. Helena High defeated Missoula Sentinel 11-2 in the consolation bracket final to advance to the championship game, relegating Sentinel to third place.
At the State A in Belgrade, Columbia Falls also became a first-time softball champ with an 8-2 championship game victory over Billings Central. Columbia Falls had won by 6-4 over Laurel in the winners’ bracket semifinal and then Billings Central emerged from the consolation bracket with a 7-4 win over Havre to gain the slot opposite Laurel in the other semifinal. The Rams toppled Laurel 13-4 to reach the championship game.
The state Class B-C tourney in Anaconda saw Conrad-Choteau down Arlee-St. Ignatius-Charlo 8-3 in the championship game of a softball tournament that had more hyphenated names than a weekend recreation ball tournament. Co-ops are the need to play in so many of the Montana smaller schools.
The undefeateds’ game semifinal had seen Conrad-Choteau beat Huntley Project 10-0. St. Ignatius-Arlee-Charlo came out of the large consolation bracket with a 15-5 victory over Columbus-Absarokee-Park City. The reward was a semfinal berth against Huntley Project and St. Ignatius-Arlee-Charlo cashed the opportunity in for a narrow 13-12 win and the chance to meet Conrad-Choteau for the crown.
The state Class AA tennis tournament was held in Kalispell and Elliotte Banziger of Missoula Hellgate captured the girls’ singles title with a 2-6, 7-6 (3), 6-2 championship match victory over Quayl Kujala of Helena High.
Hazel Demoray of Billings Skyview placed third, Lilly Langbein of Great Falls High fourth, Alexis Kersten of Kalispell Flathead fifth and Bella Rogge of Sentinel was sixth. Butte High’s Ashlynn Burnett qualified for the state tourney, but didn’t earn a medal. She lost 6-0, 6-0 to Kersten in the first round, the fell 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 to Sammie McCutcheon of Helena Capital in consolation.
Hellgaters Brooke Best and Laine Banziger captured the girls’ doubles crown with a 6-3, 6-0 victory over Haven Speer and Sarah Downs of Glacier. Third place went to Olivia Mansour and Sophia Mansour of Bozeman Gallatin, fourth to Becca Sherman and Olivia Martello of Great Falls C.M. Russell, fifth to Alexis Mansour and Averie Smith of Gallatin and sixth to Ava Roe and Brooklyn Helmer of Billings Skyview.
The sweep of the event titles gave the Hellgate the girls’ team championship with 32, twice that of runner-up Skyview while Gallatin was third with 15. It was an historical changing of the guard as Bozeman High had won the previous 10 girls’ team championships.
Gallatin copped the boys’ team title with 29 points while C.M. Russell and Glacier tied for second place with 23 points each.
The boys’ singles winner was Mason McCarty of Gallatin, 6-2 6-3 over Ryan Ashley of Capital. Oliver Ward of Bozeman High placed third, Carson Rich of C.M. Russell fourth, Will Rudbach of Glacier fifth and Sebastian Silverstein of Hellgate sixth.
In doubles, Harrison Sanders and Timothy Glanville of Glacier raised rackets for their 6-3, 6-4 triumph over Brody Smith and Braeden Butler of Gallatin. Josh Simac and Brady Pike placed third, Noah Nelson and Jamie Navarro of Sentinel fourth, Josh Ebel and Ridge Wohler of Skyview fifth and Keaton Miller and Chris Piccioni of Skyview sixth.
Clara Todd of Polson was the State A girls’ singles champion with a 6-1, 6-1 victory over Cloey Ramage of Columbia Falls in their championship match, played as the tournament concluded in Missoula. Alina Kot of Miles City was third, Bryn Coffin of Miles City fourth, Clara Hanley of Hamilton fifth and Debra Don’t Mix of Hardin sixth.
The doubles winners were Rachel Fluckinger and Eden Kindberg of Dillon while Jayde Venema and Brecklyn Jessop of Corvallis placed second, Evie Reck and Billie Cate Schmitt of Corvallis third, Lainey Smith and Emma Barlog of Miles City fourth, Katie Smith and Lucy Violett of Polson fifth and Ocielly Black Eagle and Johanna Limberhan of Polson sixth.
Miles City edged Polson 25-24 for the girls’ title while Dillon was third with 16. The boys’ competition saw Polson win the team crown with 34 points, Hamilton finish second with 20 and Hardin third with 16.
Andy Purcell of Hamilton defeated Torrin Ellis of Polson for the boys’ singles championship while Ryan Beagle of Libby was third, Jameson Noteboom of Hardin fourth, Colin Hanley of Hamilton fifth and Ryan Hutchison of Corvallis sixth.
The Butte Central duo of Nick Lester and Owen McPartland earned a spot in the state Class A boys’ doubles field. The Maroons fell 6-1, 6-3 to Samson Hostman and Charlie Lang of Miles City and 6-2, 6-1 to Houston Dunn and Logan Jorgensen of Livingston.
The doubles winners were Owen McElwee and Trent Wilson of Polson by a 6-3, 6-3 victory over Mattthew Norbury and Gabbo Giammattei of Billings Central. Mason Kelch and Dane Hunt of Whitefish were third, Sean Mehling and Derek Blankenship of Hardin fourth, Colter Wilson and Tate Barentsen of Polson fifth and Christopher Jessop and Grant Wilcox of Corvallis placed sixth.
The State B-C tournament was played in Great Falls. The team competitions saw Simms win the girls’ title with 35 points while Chinook was second with 32 and Missoula Loyola-Sacred Heart third with 21. Loyola topped the boys’ standings with 37 points while Missoula Valley Christian was second with 33 and Terry third with 17.
Mya Berreth of Chinook won the girls’ singles 6-2, 6-4 over Maya Wilson of Fairfield. Sishers Laura and Kaylee Zietzke of Simms ruled in girls’ doubles with a 6-0, 6-3 championship victory over Ava Bellamah and Gio Horner of Loyola.
The boys’ doubles throne went to Carter Topp and Joe Kirschenman of Loyola with their win in the championship round over Gabriel Shaffer and Preston Reimer of Valley Christian. Loyola’s Dillon Taylor won the singles championship with a 6-4, 7-6 (2) nail-biter over Clay Rouse of Darby.
— compiled by Bruce Sayler for