(Editor's note: MTN Sports is re-publishing the original stories from the #MTTop25, which launched in 2017 to profile some of the great girls basketball players in Montana history. Every Friday, we will unveil ‘all-decade teams’ that include athletes not profiled in the #MTTop25 countdown. Thus, players like Jill Barta, who graduated from Fairfield in 2014, and Shannon (Cate) Schweyen, who starred at Billings Central and Montana before ultimately coaching the Lady Griz, will not be featured on their respective decade teams. Those players will be featured in the top 25, regardless of era. Our intention is not to revise history, so we're not going to change the order in which the players were featured. However, some articles will include updates to reflect the latest developments in a player's career. This story was originally published on Aug. 11, 2017.)
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.
The #MTTop25, a list recognizing some of the best female basketball players ever to come out of Montana, reached its conclusion with the unveiling of Shannon Cate at the No. 1 position. Over the past five weeks, MTN Sports has profiled 25 incredible athletes while also featuring additional members in weekly ‘all-decade’ teams.
Hopefully the countdown has rekindled some old memories and sparked conversations about some of Montana’s many, many great female basketball players.
Of course, there have been numerous athletes who played their high school basketball in Montana but have yet to be recognized on the #MTTop25. Thus, we’re including a list of honorable mentions – five athletes to fill the de facto 26-30 positions on the list and another 10 who also deserve recognition.
Brooke Allen, Columbia Falls
Allen is in the Montana High School Association record books as a javelin thrower (she had the old javelin state record of 172 feet, 0 inches), but she played basketball in college. After helping Columbia Falls to a Class AA state championship in 1983, Allen played at the University of Oregon from 1986-90. According to Missoula Sentinel coach Karen Deden, Allen once scored what is believed to be a Class AA record 45 points in a game at Columbia Falls. The Wildkats have since moved to Class A.
Marj Connors, Glasgow
After a standout career at Glasgow, Connors played at Boise State in the 1980s. She played in 54 games for the Broncos from 1985-88, totaling 245 assists and 197 steals. Her per-game career averages in both – 4.5 assists per game and 3.6 steals per game – still top Boise State’s record books. Connors was named to the Big Sky Conference’s 1980s all-decade team.
Torry Hill, Anaconda
Hill was a three-time all-state selection during her playing days at Anaconda, scoring 1,496 points during her career, according to noted Anaconda sports historian Blake Hempstead. She helped the Copperheads to back-to-back Class A state titles in 2008 and 2009 before a standout college career at Montana. Hill finished her Lady Griz career with 1,060 points and two NCAA Tournament appearances.
Maggie Langlas, Missoula Hellgate
Langlas was a two-sport star at Missoula Hellgate, earning all-state honors in both volleyball and basketball. On the hardwood, she helped the Knights to the 1994 Class AA state championship and a second-place finish in 1995. Langlas continued her career at Princeton, where she scored 1,188 career points and ranks eighth in program history with 194 career steals.
Elissa Walker, Great Falls High
Walker played for legendary coach Dick Kloppel at Great Falls High in the 1980s, where she left the Bison as the program’s career leader in both points and rebounds. Walker continued her career at the University of Oklahoma, where she was a three-year letter-winner for the Sooners. She currently resides in Houston and hosts The Big E Sports Show, a national radio and online broadcast.
Marietta Bahnmiller, Big Sandy; Dana Conway, Billings West; Kalli Durham, Miles City; Jenny Heringer, Billings Central; Kellie Johnson, Butte Central; Amy Meckling, Winifred; LeAnn Montes, Box Elder; Dawn Sievers, Miles City; Mary Smetanka, Billings Senior; Jordan Sullivan, Sidney.