Class AA girls basketball
2018-19 top three: 1) Helena High 2) Billings West 3) Missoula Hellgate
Helena High enters the season looking for its fourth-straight Class AA basketball title in a row and to continue their run of dominance. It will be difficult, however, as the Bengals all-star Jamie Pickens is now getting minutes for the Montana Lady Griz. Helena lost several other important pieces, including senior twins Paige and Payton Aasved, who combined for 17.7 points per game.
Billings West, last year's runner up, loses six seniors off its roster, but do return Willa and Maddie Albrecht. Both will likely play college basketball, with Willa having already signed with the Montana women's basketball team.
Hellgate comes in with a few expectations as well, returning a fairly young team. As a freshman, Addy Heaphy put up 8.8 points, 2.2 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.2 steals per game and should only get better. Bailee Sayler as well as transfers Alex and Austynn Covill should provide a boost for the Knights too.
Bozeman will have to reload as it returns just two of its top-five scorers. Butte returns a solid roster, but will have to replace the strong trio over Aspen Lovshin, Ally Cleverly and Brittney Tierney.
Missoula Sentinel will be a team to watch too. Spartan star Lexi Deden, who recently committed to Montana State, returns after averaging 15.1 points, 7.3 assists, 2.2 assists, 3.3 steals and 2.2 blocks per game. Challis Westwater returns as well.
Kalispell Glacier, Billings Senior and Billings Skyview all have new coaches this year. Belgrade will begin its first season as a girls basketball member of Class AA.
One big number
4: That is how many schools have won three-straight girls basketball titles in a row at the Class AA level. Helena High has won from 2017-19, Missoula Sentinel won three-straight from 2012-14, Billings West had a three-peat from 2003-05 and Great Falls High won three in a row all the way back from 1980-82. If the Bengals would happen to return to the state title game and win, they would be the first team to ever win four-straight Class AA girls basketball titles.