George Ferguson Havre Daily News sports editor email@example.com There’s never a shortage of talented girls basketball players in and around the Havre area. So when the votes are cast by local coaches for the annual Havre Daily News All Hi-Line Girls Team, no choice is any easy one. Girls basketball was as exciting and as successful as ever this past season, and this year’s All Hi-Line Team reflects that fact. This year's team has just three repeat performers, and four players who have made the list before. It also has a solid mix of experience and youth. Of the 11 players voted to the team, there are four seniors and four juniors, but there are also three sophomores on the list — the most sophomores in the fouryear history of the team.
Jessica VanDyke, Chester/J-I Chester/J-I senior Jessica VanDyke has made the All Hi-Line Team before. She was on the list all the way back in her freshman year of high school. Since that time, VanDyke has overcome plenty of adversity. She missed both her sophomore and junior seasons all together because of injuries, but she came back with a vengeance in 200-10. In her final season of high school basketball, VanDyke led the entire state in scoring at nearly 27 points per game. She was also one of the top 3-point shooters in Montana this season, shooting better than 48 percent from beyond the arc. With her back at the controls, the Hawks not only reclaimed the District 10C championship this season, but they came within one win of reaching the Class C state tournament. And despite missing the last two years of basketball, VanDyke will take her game to the next level, as she has committed to play for Carroll College after earning Class C All State and Northern C All Conference honors this year.
Cassi Darrah, Havre High Blue Pony senior Cassi Darrah had a stellar junior season, but she exploded during her senior campaign. Darrah put up almost 20 points per game and was among the Central A’s leading 3-point shooters and scorers this season, as she helped the Ponies reach the Class A state tournament for the fourth straight season. On her way to Central A All Conference honors for the second straight year, Darrah went on a torrid scoring run this season, scoring over 24 points in six straight games, as her Blue Pony team stormed their way back from a 2-7 start to the year. As a result of a great senior season, Darrah was selected to play in a pair of prestigious all-star games this spring.
Rylin Burns, Box Elder Only a junior, Rylin Burns has already had a decorated career at Box Elder. Burns is making her third straight appearance on the All Hi-Line Team, and she’s started every game of her career for the Bears. During that time, Box Elder has gone to two Northern C Divisional tournaments, had three straight winning seasons, and just this past February, she helped Box Elder capture its first District 9C tournament title since 1994. Burns averaged just over 17 points and five rebounds this season for the Bears, and she earned Northern C and Class C All State honors for the third consecutive season as a result.
Britnee Dyrland, North Star For the second straight year, North Star’s Britnee Dyrland makes the list. The 5-11 Dyrland has been a steady and important part of North Star’s highly successful run in girls basketball over the last three years. A two-time all Northern C performer, Dyrland led the Knights in scoring and rebounding in each of the last two seasons. Also a tenacious defender in the paint, Dyrland is a tremendous shot blocker, and in her last two seasons, the Knights reached the 9C title game twice, as well as appeared in two straight Northern C Divisional tournaments. Dyrland is also a standout volleyball player and track and field athlete at North Star.
Jasmin Dumas, Harlem There were plenty of reasons the Harlem girls basketball team had its first winning season in over a decade this year. One of them was 5-10 forward Jasmin Dumas. In her second season at Harlem, Dumas pumped in 14 points per game, grabbed seven rebounds per outing and was a lockdown defender for the Wildcats. She, along with a great group of players, helped Harlem to a tremendous year on the hardwood, and she earned District 2B and Northern B honors for her efforts. Dumas was also selected to play in both the Treasure State Classic and Hi-Line Invitational all-star tournaments this spring.
Hannah Williams, Big Sandy As expected, the Big Sandy girls basketball juggernaut has a player on the list for the fourth straight year. Junior Hannah Williams makes her first appearance on the Hi-Line Team. The 5-10 power forward was a force in the paint for the Pioneers this past season, in what was her first year as a starter. Williams led the Pioneers in scoring and rebounding this season, averaging a double-double, and she earned All 9C and Northern C honors. Williams is also an excellent defender in the paint, as she was among the leaders in the 9C in blocked shots for a Big Sandy team which finished in the top four in the 9C yet again.
Hayley Donovan, Havre High The second Blue Pony to make the list, senior Hayley Donovan was a steady force in the paint for an HHS team which achieved plenty this season. In her second full season as a starter and her third varsity campaign, Donovan was among the Central A leaders in both rebounding and field goal percentage this season. In her three years patrolling the paint for the Blue Ponies, Donovan helped Havre to a remarkable string of Class A state tournament appearances, including this season, where she led the field in rebounding at the Central A tournament in Great Falls last month, as HHS shocked Livingston to finish second in the Central A. Donovan helped the Ponies go on to finish fourth at state, and she earned Central A All Conference honors in the process. She is also a standout volleyball player and a state champion doubles player in tennis.
Shelby Lipp, North Star Just a sophomore, 5-9 Shelby Lipp played big for the North Star Knights this season. Lipp looked like a veteran player as she and teammate Britnee Dyrland formed a great 1-2 tandem in the paint for the Knights, who finished second at the 9C tournament last month in Havre. In her first year in a starting role, Lipp nearly averaged a double-double, scoring 13 points per game and pulling down nine rebounds per outing, as she helped the Knights to their second straight Northern C tournament berth. Lipp also showed that the future is bright for the Knight's front line with her breakout season.
Falene Russette, Rocky Boy Another newcomer to the All Hi-Line Team, Rocky Boy's Falene Russette was an integral part of what was a smooth transition for the Morning Stars from Class C to Class B this season. Just a sophomore, the 6-0 Russette led the Morning Stars in scoring and rebounding this season, their first in the alwaystough District 1B. For her efforts, Russette earned all District 2B honors this season, as she went on a run of scoring 15 or more points in 11 straight games. She also helped the Morning Stars to a winning season and a strong first year in Class B basketball.
Larisa Lybeck, Chester/J-I It was a great season on the hardwood for the Chester/J-I Hawks. After missing the Northern C Divisional tournament for two years in a row, order was restored in Chester this season, and junior Larisa Lybeck was a big part of the equation. The 5-8 guard-forward had a steady season for a Hawks team which captured the District 10C championship and reached the Northern C consolation game in Great Falls. Lybeck, who is also a standout volleyball player for the Hawks, was a multi-purpose player for the Hawks this season, as she finished among the team leaders in scoring, rebounding and assists. She also earned District 10C All Conference for the 2009-10 campaign.
Aricka Wolf Chief, Box Elder The second Box Elder Bear to make the list, sophomore Aricka Wolf Chief was a spark plug for the District 9C champion Bears this season. In her first year as a full time starter, Wolf Chief was part of a high-scoring trio for the Bears, along with teammates Rylin Burns and Kaycee Henry. But Wolf Chief took off in the postseason. Between two wins in the 9C tournament in Havre and three games at the Northern C Divisional in Great Falls, Wolf Chief averaged almost 23 points and four steals per game, helping the Bears to one of their most successful seasons in the past 15 years. At just 5-4, Wolf Chief plays tall, is an excellent shooter and defender and is one of the quickest guards on the Hi- Line, and with two more years of basketball left, her best games are still in front of her.
Editors Note: The All Hi-Line Team is voted on by area coaches and members of the Havre Daily News sports staff. The list does not reflect the opinion of any single individual.