High School SportsHigh School Girls Basketball


#MTTop25: Alisha Breen, Hannah Dean headline recent resume-builders

Posted at 2:00 PM, Jul 26, 2020

(Editor's note: MTN Sports re-published the original stories from the #MTTop25, which launched in 2017 to profile some of the great girls basketball players in Montana history. This story is a follow-up from 2020 to highlight some of the players who added to their resumes since the series originally published.)

No. 25 – Kayla Lambert, Brockton; No. 24 – Bobbi Knudsen, Malta; No. 23 – Kati Burrows, Bozeman; No. 22 – Lexie Nelson, Butte; No. 21 – Mandy Close, Bozeman; No. 20 – Sara Tuomi, Billings Senior; No. 19 – Peyton Ferris, Twin Bridges; No. 18 – Skyla Sisco, Malta; No. 17 – Cheri Bratt, Kalispell Flathead; No. 16 – Mandi Carver, Dillon; No. 15 – Andrea Lalum, Bozeman; No 14 – Greta Koss, Malta; No. 13 – Katie Edwards, Denton/Lewistown; No. 12 – Cass Bauer, Hysham; No. 11 – Lisa McLeod, Great Falls CMR, and Jeanne McNulty, Whitehall; No. 10 – Jill Barta, Fairfield; No. 9 – Marti Leibenguth, Missoula Big Sky; No. 8 – Sarah Flock, Belgrade; No. 7 – Vicki Heebner, Three Forks; No. 6 – Deb Prevost, Sidney; No. 5 – Loree Payne, Havre; No. 4 – Mandy Morales, Huntley Project/Billings West; No. 3 – Joslyn Tinkle, Missoula Big Sky; No. 2 – Karen Deden, Missoula Sentinel; No. 1 – Shannon Cate, Billings Central.

Honorable mentions

Frontier Conference honorable mentions

All-decade teams: 2010-present; 2000-09; 1990-99; 1980-89; 1970-79.

The #MTTop25 reached its conclusion on Friday with the the unveiling of Shannon Cate at No. 1. The loaded top five also included Karen Deden, Joslyn Tinkle, Mandy Morales and Loree Payne.

In addition to highlighting 25 of the best female basketball players ever to come out of Montana, we unveiled weekly all-decade teams and two honorable mention lists. But since this series was originally published in 2017, there were a few recent players who hadn't yet added more impressive accolades to their resumes. When the original list was published, for example, Alisha Breen was a good player with a fine body of work. Her senior season at Montana State Univesity Billings, though, was one of the best in Great Northwest Athletic Conference history and added multiple program records next to her name.

The following five players wouldn't have necessarily been retroactively featured on the #MTTop25 or the all-decade teams, but their performances over the past three seasons are certainly worth consideration.

Alisha Breen, Choteau

Breen, who was an all-state athlete at Choteau, is among the greatest women's basketball players in MSU Billings history. Her 2017-18 senior season, when she helped lead the Yellowjackets to the NCAA Division II West Region title and Elite Eight appearance, was phenomenal. She scored a GNAC single-season-record 791 points and garnered first-team all-American recognition as well as GNAC and NCAA Division II West Region player of the year honors. She finished her MSUB career with a program-record 2,001 points and 878 rebounds, the third-most in program history, and won the 2019 Montana AAU Little Sullivan Award. Breen has been an assistant coach with the MSUB women since the conclusion of her playing career in 2018.

Hannah Dean, Gardiner

After helping Gardiner to Class C state volleyball championships in 2012, 2013 and 2014 and the State C girls basketball title in 2015, Dean scored 1,378 points and grabbed 844 rebounds during a four-year basketball career at Carroll College. She was an all-Frontier Conference honorable mention selection as a sophomore in 2016-17 before becoming a first-team all-conference choice her junior and senior seasons. Dean was a second-team NAIA all-American as a junior and a first-team NAIA all-American as a senior when she led the Fighting Saints in points (15.2 per game), rebounds (7.2 per game), assists (2.8 per game), steals (1.9 per game) and blocks (1.0 per game). She finished her Carroll career playing one season with the volleyball program.

McKenzie Johnston, Helena Capital

Johnston was a three-sport all-state athlete at Helena Capital and helped the Bruins to the 2015 Class AA state championship, the first in program history. She continued her career with the Montana Lady Griz and became a regular contributor during her freshman season in 2016-17. A four-year starter, Johnston finished her career with 1,398 points and 515 assists, which rank seventh and fourth, respectively, in program history. She led the team in assists all four seasons of her career and led the team in scoring her sophomore, junior and senior seasons.

Kyndall Keller, Havre

While Keller's college career at the University of Montana hasn't yet started, she had a fantastic high school career at Havre. The Blue Ponies advanced to the semifinal round of the Class A state tournament each of Keller's four years, winning the state championships in 2018 and 2019. Keller, who scored 1,507 career points at Havre, was a three-time first-team all-state selection and was named the Gatorade Montana girls basketball player of the year in 2019-20 when she averaged 18.7 points, 4.3 rebounds, 2.5 steals and 2.1 assists as a senior.

Jamie Pickens, Helena High

Pickens was a dominant player at Helena High, helping the Bengals to three consecutive Class AA state championships from 2017-19. She was an all-state athlete in basketball, volleyball and softball and was the Montana Gatorade girls basketball player of the year in her junior and senior seasons in 2017-18 and 2018-19. Pickens averaged 15 points, 11.9 rebounds, 2.8 steals, 2.0 blocks and 2.0 assists per game as a junior, and then 17 points, 12.2 rebounds, 3.7 steals, 2.4 blocks and 2.1 assists per game as a senior. She finished her high school career with 1,204 points and 852 rebounds, both of which are Helena High program records. After playing in 29 game as a true freshman at the University of Montana, Pickens transferred to Carroll College, where she'll have three years of eligibility remaining.