GREAT FALLS — Billings Skyview junior Payton Sanders was named the boys MVP of the State AA tournament, while Helena Capital’s Dani Bartsch earned MVP honors on the girls side.
The MVP's and the All-Tournament team were voted on by members of the media who attended the tournament, and compiled by Class AA statistician Lowell Peterson.
Sanders earned the MVP nod as much for his clutch performances as his counting stats. In the state AA title game against Great Falls High, Sanders only scored 14 points, but he made the biggest plays of the game when his team needed them the most.
Skyview had led the entire game, including by as many as 15 points in the third quarter, but Great Falls High battled back to tie the game at 57 and grab all the momentum in the final minutes of the game. Sanders answered with a jumper in the lane to give the Falcons a 59-57 lead.
After a bonus free throw made it 60-57, Bison senior Drew Wyman hit a three to tie the game once again at 60. With less than 20 seconds remaining, Sanders hit another big shot over the outstretched hands of Reed Harris to give Skyview a 62-60 lead.
Sanders wasn’t done. Great Falls High senior Tarel Rollins attempted a game winning three on the other end which was partially blocked by Sanders. Sanders received seven of eight votes for MVP.
For the tournament Sanders averaged 20 points, five rebounds and four assists. He is joined on the All-tournament team by Skyview teammates Ky Kouba, Abe Seybert and Camron Ketchum. The Bison also placed three on the All-Tournament team with Wyman, Harris and Levi Torgerson.
Dani Bartsch was named the MVP of the girls tournament for her typically solid performance on both offense and defense to help lead Capital to a state title.
In the Bruins opener against Skyview, Bartsch scored 14 points and hauled in 18 rebounds while adding four assists. In the semifinals against West, she scored 13 points grabbed eight rebounds and blocked three shots. In the championship game against Missoula Hellgate, Bartsch led all scorers with 15 points, 7 rebounds and three steals.
For the tournament - Bartsch averaged 13 points and 11 rebounds. She was selected MVP by seven of eight voters. Dani was joined on the All-Tournament team by Capital teammates Paige Bartsch, Mara McGinley and Jaymee Sheridan.
Runner-up Hellgate put three on the list in Bailee Sayler, Lauren Dick and Alex Covill. Full lists below, ranked in order of points received.
2020-21 AA Boys Basketball State All-Tournament Team
Payton Sanders, 5'10 Junior, Billings Skyview (MVP)
Drew Wyman, 6'5 Senior, Great Falls High
Ky Kouba, 6'3 Senior, Billings Skyview
Brayden Koch, 6'3 Junior, Helena Capital
Levi Torgerson, 5'10 Senior, Great Falls High
Reed Harris, 6'5 Soph, Great Falls High
Tony Frohlich-Fair, 6'5 Senior, Missoula Sentinel
Alex Germer, 6'8 Senior, Missoula Sentinel
Cam Ketchum, 6'3 Senior, Billings Skyview
Abe Seybert, 5'11 Senior, Billings Skyview
Hayden Opitz, 6'3 Soph, Helena Capital
Junior Bergen, 6'0 Senior, Billings Senior
2020-21 AA Girls Basketball State All-Tournament Team
Dani Bartsch, 6'2 Senior, Helena Capital (MVP)
Bailee Sayler, 6'0 Junior, Missoula Hellgate
Paige Bartsch, 6'4 Senior, Helena Capital
Taylee Chirrick, 5'10 Freshman, Billings West
Kaitlyn Grossman, 6'0 Junior, Billings West
Brooke Berry, 6'0 Junior, Billings Skyview
Alison Harris, 6'2 Senior, Great Falls High
Lauren Dick, 6'0 Junior, Missoula Hellgate
Mara McGinley, 5'6 Senior, Helena Capital
Alex Covill, 6'5 Soph, Missoula Hellgate
Jaymee Sheridan, 5'5 Senior, Helena Capital
Kaycee Ryder, 5'8 Senior, Billings West