MISSOULA — The Missoula Sentinel basketball teams opened the Class AA season with a sweep of Kalispell Flathead on Thursday evening.
The boys won 77-64 in Missoula while the girls defeated the Bravettes 61-45 in Kalispell as all four programs opened the 2020-21 season.
Montana State signee Alex Germer led the boys with 37 points while Tony Frohlich-Fair added 19. Joston Cripe led Flathead with 24 while Hunter Hickey added 13.
The game went back and forth early with Germer and Frohlich-Fair heating up from the start. Flathead trailed 20-19 after a 3-pointer from Ethan Vandenbosch, but Sentinel continued to lead and went into half up 37-31. Germer had 19 in the opening half while Frohlich-Fair had 11.
"When we finally got back on the court as a team, it's just been super fun," Frohlich-Fair said. "Even though we've lost some time with preseason games, I think that during practice and practicing hard has made up for it."
Sentinel came out of the gates hot in the second half and quickly built a double-digit lead heading in the fourth quarter. However, Flathead refused to go away, and the Braves trimmed their deficit to 57-52 after a 3-pointer from Hickey found the mark with 5:32 to play.
But that was as close as Flathead got. TJ Rausch got a pair of big buckets to get Sentinel's offense started again which were quickly followed by back-to-back 3-pointers from Germer, who put the Spartans up 69-54, and they never looked back. Germer and Frohlich-Fair capped off the win with back-to-back dunks.
"We started out the game kind of slow," Frohlich-Fair said. "So when we finally got going fast-break, transition, it was super fun. Just seeing each other, we both know how hard we work. That was really fun and kind of what we hope the season is like."
The game featured first-year coaches in both programs in Sentinel's Jason Maki and Flathead's Dirk Johnsrud. The Spartans could breathe a sigh of relief at tip as well as the team had to shut operations down for two weeks back in December due to positive COVID-19 tests.
"I was happy to get a win for sure," Maki said. "It was an ugly game. First game of the year. Both teams played really hard but it was probably really sloppy, but I was just excited to be back and competing. With COVID being so weird, you feel normal playing basketball and so that was really fun."
"We wanted to be at 15 or less turnovers and we were right at 18 so we're not taking care of the ball and we had some careless turnovers and I thought that was the game-changer at times," Johnsrud added. "In the third quarter we were kind of pushing there, and then we had some careless turnovers and they capitalized on them and I thought that was how they pushed the game out, and those are things that we'll have to polish out but overall I'm very happy with our kids here."
In the girls game, Megan Hamilton led Sentinel with 17 points while Olivia Huntsinger and Brooke Stayner added 15 and 14 points, respectively. Maddy Moy led Flathead with nine. Stayner also led Sentinel with eight rebounds and five steals while Challis Westwater tallied five assists.
The Spartan girls didn't waste any time building a lead and keeping it, as Sentinel led 16-5 by the end of the first quarter and 35-13 by halftime. The Spartans shot 44.7% from the field and converted 5 of 16 3-point attempts.
Clare Converse led the game with nine rebounds and added four steals for Flathead.