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Wildkats stalking elusive state title

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MISSOULA, Mont. - When the girls state A basketball tournament begins Thursday in Butte, Columbia Falls will be the clear-cut favorite to win a title.

Coming off a state runner-up finish from last year, the Wildkats have been nothing less than dominant this season with a current record of 20-1.

"Well we have more weapons offensively that can do multiple things," said head coach Cary Finberg of this year's squad. "Our starting five is very experienced as far as playing time and tournament experience so combine that with a lot of hard work in the off-season and that put us in the position where we are at."

Columbia Falls has been nothing short of dominant in recent history. They've placed at state for the last three years in a row and this program hasn't lost a conference game since 2012. However the only streak this group is really worried about this year is bringing home their first state title since 1983.

"I mean we have come up short all the other years," said senior Kiara Burlage. "But we just need to forget about that this season but use it definitely as motivation."

"We've had three great seasons in the past," added senior Cydney Finberg. "Not to discredit them but we haven't gotten done what we want to get done. This year we're definitely looking forward to it. We've been working all year and all four years to get to this moment and we're just excited and we're ready."

No matter what happens this week in Butte, this group of seniors has already made history for their program. Winning over 92-percent of their games over the past four years.

"We've never been on a losing team so I don't really know any different," smiled Burlage. "But it's been a dream come true, it's been nice."

"They've already placed three years in a row which has never happened before," said coach Finberg. "They are going to go down as the winningest senior class in Columbia Falls girls history."

"It's definitely bittersweet," explained Cydney Finberg of her high school hoops career coming to a close. "I mean I love basketball. I've loved it since I was little so to have it be almost done is crazy but I definitely want to go out on top. I want to go out on top with all my senior girls and friends. I just want it to be our year."

The Wildkats will battle against Laurel in the first game of the tournament at 12:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 2.

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