MISSOULA, Mont. - The Glacier boys' basketball team finished the year one game over .500 but with four wins out of their final six games to end the season, they feel like they're right where they need to be heading into state.
"We expected it to be a little bit up and down and I've been really happy to see how this team has continued to improve and find an identity," said head coach Mark Harkins. "And I think we're playing pretty good basketball at the end of the season."
This year's Wolfpack team lacks some size but their athleticism and speed on the perimeter led them to be the second highest scoring team in the Western Conference.
"We all can shoot the ball well and I think that we share the ball and it doesn't matter to us who scores," said senior player Kyler Harkins.
"We share the ball really well; we can shoot the ball well," added senior Bryan Michaels. "I think we need to work on our rebounding and defense."
Leading the way for Glacier are a pair of seniors in Bryan Michaels and Evan Epperly who have played in state tournament games before and they know what to expect.
"It's going to be a great atmosphere, super intense," explained Epperly. "Every team is good; you're going to have to play your best basketball to beat anybody at the state tournament."
"Anything can happen there are a lot of good teams there," added Michaels. "I think records can go out the window. We don't have anything to lose and nobody else does either so just go out there and play as hard as you can."
Meanwhile the Glacier girls' team will also be headed back to state this year and they also will be the #3 seed from the West. Just like the boys, they finished their season on a hot streak winning five of their last six games to gain momentum heading into Billings.
"I think we're feeling good," said senior Hannah Atlee of the week leading up to state. "We're feeling strong and confident that we can take home a trophy."
"Physically, I think we're very prepared," said senior Cassi Hashley. "And then mentally I think we all just want to get there and win. We want to bring home some hardware and place."
Unlike the boys' team, the Glacier girls made it this far based on great team defense. They finished fourth in the state in points allowed.
"I would say our greatest strength is our defense," said junior player Katie Wiley. "We have so much trust in our team to be there for us when we get beat."
Several players on this team have state experience from last year and they know how important every single play is at this tournament.
"I think you have to play the whole game, you know you can't take one play off at the state tournament," explained Hashley.
"You know the best eight teams in the state are there and so you have to go there and play your best all-around basketball," said girls head coach Kris Salonen. "You get a win on Thursday and anything can happen."
Both the Glacier girls' and boys' programs are in search of that elusive first state championship on the hardwoods.