MISSOULA — While postseason tournaments are in full swing across the state of Montana, the Class AA basketball postseason begins next weekend with divisionals.
The Missoula Hellgate girls basketball team currently sits at 16-1, and a big reason for that has been the play of seniors Keke Davis and Bailee Sayler, who after this season will take their talents to the college basketball court.
Both will stay in state. Sayler signed with Montana State Billings while Davis signed with Montana Western, as both saw their hard work lead to the achievement of these goals.
"It was something where I think if I worked hard enough," Sayler said. "I think if anybody works hard enough you can do it so I feel like just worked hard towards it and it became a reality. (Coaches) Rob and Brady (Henthorn) have been huge with me being able to make it to the next level as well as my family and my teammates are probably the biggest part. Like I couldn't do this without them."
"That moment (signing), I could crumble in tears because that is what I've been wanting honestly since I was in sixth grade when we started going out to these showcases and when we started trying to go around and traveling, showing colleges our talents at such a young age," added Davis, who said she wanted to go into education or business in college. "What's more fun than going to more school and actually keep going with your sport."
Going into Hellgate's most recent win over Kalispell Flathead, Sayler was averaging 12.4 points, 3.8 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game, while Davis was averaging 6.5 points, 3.1 rebounds and 1.5 assists and 1.9 steals per contest.
It's the cherry on top for the two, who were two of the many freshmen thrown into the fire with big varsity minutes three years ago as Hellgate's program began to grow into the contender that it is today.
But there's still the ultimate goal of winning a state championship in March after the Knights fell just short in 2021.
"It was a hard process, obviously, especially freshman, sophomore year, like we kind of got bullied out there," Sayler said. "But I feel like we all grew, we all got stronger, and now we go out there and we play our game for sure."
"Honestly I think I'm more proud about the growth of our team," added Davis. "We have been playing together and playing against each other at such a young age like third, fourth grade and we've just like grown together as a team. We have an end goal and that's to win. Growing as a team helps you grow as a player individually as well. And so without these girls, I don't think I could be where I'm at at Western without them and that's a huge thanks to them."