BIGFORK — After going undefeated and winning state title in Class B last year, the Bigfork Valkyries have taken Class A by storm this season, and much of their success can be attributed to the Gunlock family trio.
"I'm pleasantly surprised, truthfully, how well we've been doing stepping up to Class A," said head coach and mom Cortnee Gunlock, whose team is 12-1 overall, 7-0 in the Northwest division and ranked No. 2 in MTN Sports' latest Class A girls power rankings.
"The one thing I've noticed is the depth, right? We don't have the depth we did last year and Class A teams have a lot more players. So that's been a little bit challenging for us. But we're competing and we're doing well."
The eldest Gunlock daughter, Braeden, echoed her mom’s thoughts in the differences since making the jump to Class A.
"Just size. A lot more post players this year compared to Class B, a lot more guards, just an adjustment that we had to make," said Braeden Gunlock. "We're not the tallest or biggest team, so (we) definitely have to work through some things to guard that."
As for playing with her younger sister Paeten, Braeden knows she couldn’t have better chemistry with anyone else on the floor.
"We see each other really well on the court, just a lot of plays between us," said Braeden. "There's a lot of competitive spirit between me and Paeten, but it only makes us better and makes our team better too."
As with any siblings in any form of competition, things can get a little heated, but that doesn’t stop the two from enjoying the opportunity to play with each other.
"Competitiveness at our practice is ... it gets pretty scrappy and stuff when we're defending each other," said Paeten with a laugh. "Which is not likely cause (coach Gunlock) doesn't let us guard each other sometimes. But yeah, it's good. I like playing with my sister a lot."
And that competitiveness between the sisters translates directly into their game play and how they feel so far about the season.
"Feeling good, I just want to win more and more," said Paeten Gunlock. "I want to beat Frenchtown, the one team that we lost to. That's what I want."
After a perfect 25-0 record last years and only the one loss so far this season, Cortnee Gunlock chalks up the teams success to all their hard work.
"They know their roles, they know how hard they need to work and they know that we can do it," said Cortnee. "And so I think having that championship last year, they believe in each other. They believe in this program and so it's really fun to be part of."
The Gunlock trio will hope to continue leading the Valkyries in their winning ways as the postseason inches closer as they look to compete for a second consecutive state title, only this time at a higher classification.