Crosstown basketball usually has the both the girls and boys teams playing the same night.
This year, each squad gets its own night.
Thursday at 7:15 p.m., the first crosstown basketball action of the year starts with the Flathead Bravettes hosting the Glacier Wolfpack girls at Flathead High School.
Friday night will be the boys turn.
“It’s an awesome atmosphere always,” Flathead coach Tricia Dean said.
Dean, in her fourth year coaching the Bravettes, said things are starting to come together for her young team.
“It’s taking us a little bit of time,” Dean said. “We feel like we’re right on the verge of us clicking, so that’s really exciting.”
Dean has two freshmen, Maddy Moy and Akila Kubi, and a sophomore, Clare Converse, in the starting lineup.
“I think they’re getting used to that beat of high school ball,” Dean said.
Senior Jenna Johnson is the only returning starter from last season and one of three seniors on the current roster. Emily Lembke and Kennedy Kanter are the team’s other two seniors.
Flathead is 2-6 overall and 1-3 in conference play and coming off a 48-35 loss to Columbia Falls on Tuesday in a nonconference game.
Johnson scored 12 points; Converse nine.
Glacier beat Butte 64-55 on Saturday in a game where senior Aubrie Rademacher and junior Ellie Keller both put up 15 points.
“They’re just super athletic,” Dean said of Glacier (3-5, 2-2). “They’re really good defenders and they can play a full court man and really rattle teams with it.”
First-year Glacier coach Amanda Cram knows what to expect from the crosstown rival.
“We’ll look for them to come out fast,” Cram said. “They’ll be trying to score the ball early and limit our possession.”
Cram has eight years of coaching experience, with five of those at Glacier. After Bill Sullivan stepped down at the end of last season, Cram took the helm of the girls basketbal program.
Keller and Rademacher are Glacier’s only returning starters from last year.
There are five seniors on the current roster.
“I’m definitely pleased with how the team is going,” Cram said. “We’re progressing in the right direction every week. Our play right now gives us a lot of hope and motivation for the future.”
Glacier fell just short of the third-place game at the All-Class State tournament in 2019.
The Western AA conference boasts some of the toughest competition in the state, between the undefeated defending state champion Helena Capital, Missoula Hellgate and Missoula Sentinel.
Divisonals will be held for a second year at Missoula Sentinel High School on March 5. With the top three seeds all but locked down, the divisional tournament will determine who the fourth seed to state will be.
“I have never seen Western AA this good,” Cram said. “Everyone is just battling.”
Standings and season records aside, none of that seems to matter in a crosstown game.
“Regardless of where both teams are at it’s close,” Dean said.
And the venue for the first clash this season — the FHS gym — seems to lend itself to the drama.
“It has that vintage basketball feeling,” Cram said. “The perfect environment for basketball but also intimidating.”
Helena Capital 4-0 8-0
Missoula Hellgate 3-1 7-1
Missoula Sentinel 3-1 7-1
Helena 2-2 4-4
Glacier 2-2 3-5
Butte 2-3 4-4
Flathead 1-4 2-6
Missoula Big Sky 0-6 0-9
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