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Yellowjackets seeking back-to-back state titles

By Shane Gillette, News and Sports Reporter, sgillette@keci.com
Published On: Dec 18 2013 09:44:22 PM MST
Updated On: Dec 18 2013 09:58:21 PM MST
MISSOULA, Mont. -

The Stevensville boys’ basketball team is coming off their first ever state championship and with seven returning seniors they are the buzz of class 'A' basketball again this season.  Taking over the reins at head coach this year is Joey Wark, and he knows his guys are capable of anything.

"Our seniors you have been here for four years here on the varsity so they kind of run things," says Wark. "They help out in all the drills in practice with younger kids. This is a huge benefit having this group here for my first year."

With post players like 6-foot-4 senior Zach Gavlak and 6-foot-4 junior Jesse Sims down low, Stevensville works their offense inside out.

"We really try and pound the ball down low," says Wark.  "That's our big strength; we got a great point guard that's a good leader. Even though that's our three guys that we go to on our offensive set, everybody, it's a full team effort."

"Being one of the focuses of the team, I mean everyone has their chances on the court but we really want to try and get the ball down low because nobody can stop me and Jesse down low," Gavlak explained.

Being defending state champs is a blessing for Stevensville, but they know they have a target on their back.

"I think that can be motivation for these guys, continue to play hard," Wark added.

"I mean last year we had high expectations but you know that kind of doubled with winning a state championship and we definitely want to live up to those expectations this year," said Sims.

Community support has been big for this team. The first state championship in school history marks a new beginning.

"It's great, I mean downtown people are talking about basketball. Who we play this week, who we play next week, who are the tough teams matching up," says Wark.  "In the past there was just no talk."

"Last year bringing it home it was different because it hasn't happened here before, obviously that first state championship for the school it was really nice just seeing the community get involved," added senior point guard Jared Schultz.

With tough conference match-ups such as Dillon and Butte Central, the path to number two won't be easy.

"I feel like any athlete wants to get that state championship and if he doesn't get it you know it's almost a fail," explained Schultz.

"You know I think we might want it more this year than we did last year. It's definitely an expectation this year," added Sims.

The Yellowjackets will head to Butte Central this Friday to open conference play.