Glacier is out for revenge tonight against Flathead in the second crosstown basketball matchup of the season.
Flathead edged both Wolfpack squads in the first meeting back on Feb. 1, as the girls grinded out a 29-25 win before the boys claimed a 59-55 overtime victory in the nightcap.
The girls tip off in their rematch tonight at Glacier High School at 6. The boys will follow around 8 p.m.
“It should motivate us,” Glacier girls head coach Bill Sullivan said of the previous outing versus Flathead.
“If it’s not motivating that you didn’t get the first one and the second one’s coming up, then I should probably find something else to do.”
The Glacier girls, coming off a road upset of second-ranked Missoula Sentinel on Tuesday night, should be boosted in the rematch by the return of Kali Gulick and Anna Schrade, both of whom missed the first crosstown game with injury.
The Wolfpack’s two leading scorers, Gulick and Schrade average a combined 17.3 points per game and are capable of vastly improving a Glacier offense that was feeble against the Bravettes in the first meeting.
“(Gulick and Schrade being back) changes things without a doubt,” Sullivan said.
“Certainly there are no excuses. Flathead took care of us last time. Those girls bring a lot to us as far as emotion and intensity and scoring, so it will be nice to have them this time around.”
Flathead hopes to contain Gulick and Schrade enough to turn the sequel into a defensive struggle similar to the one it prevailed in three weeks earlier.
“Glacier and us, I think we hang our hat on the fact that we feel like we’re strong defensive teams,” Flathead girls head coach Tricia Dean said. “That’s what we pride ourselves on. I’d expect a similar outing.”
The Bravettes enter off a disappointing 42-35 loss to Missoula Big Sky last Saturday. If there was a bright spot in that game, however, it was the play of Flathead’s posts.
Mary Heaton and Taylor Henley combined for 30 of Flathead’s 35, and the Bravettes will need more contributions from both if they hope to negate Glacier’s scoring advantage on the wings.
“Mary and Taylor have been playing really well inside for us, and we’ll look for that to continue,” Dean said.
In the boys game, Glacier will look to even the season series with their rivals to the south after a furious second-half comeback fell short in the first matchup.
“It has all the billing of being another great matchup,” Glacier boys head coach Mark Harkins said.
“I don’t like playing the revenge factor as a motivator, but I think it’s going to be in the back of their mind a little bit that they lost a close one at their place and we get a chance to get it back at our place.”
Flathead dominated the paint on the offensive end in its previous game against Glacier, winning without making a 3-pointer.
“We’re probably not going to win again if we don’t hit a couple of 3s,” Flathead boys head coach Ross Gustafson predicted.
Tyler Johnson, a wing, slashed his way to the paint time and again on his way to a game-high 19 points, and post Sam Elliott added 16.
“(The key is) going to be keeping them out of the paint,” Harkins said.
“Whether that be stopping dribble penetration or working harder defending the post and that sort of thing, we’re going to have to mix up defenses, try to keep them off balance a little bit and work on playing physical and not allowing penetration.”
Though Glacier was also effective inside at times against Flathead, as evidenced by forward Nick Whitman’s 13 points, guard Brec Rademacher was the star of the show with 17, including three 3s, in a losing effort.
Rademacher showcased his shooting ability again on Tuesday night against Missoula Sentinel, breaking a school record with seven 3s in a 25-point outing.
“The game plan is don’t give Brec an inch,” Gustafson said.
“I saw him (Tuesday) night and said, ‘All right, I think you made enough for the week.’”
Like the girls, the boys will be battling for seeding at the upcoming divisional tournament in addition to bragging rights.
The winner of tonight’s contest is likely to be the No. 3 seed behind Sentinel and Missoula Hellgate, while the loser will likely settle for fourth place in the conference.
“Cherry on top,” Gustafson said of the seeding benefit that would accompany a win.
All four coaches were also quick to note the importance of managing the emotional highs and lows that are prevalent in crosstown games and taking advantage of what is sure to be another electric atmosphere.
“There’s no question the crowd plays a huge role in the game,” Harkins said.
“That gym was rocking last time, and I expect no different this time.”