Anaconda nips Shelby in OT, to play for first state title since 1989


In what could only be described as a battle of attrition, the Copperheads would not be denied.

Anaconda was too much from the free throw line down the stretch, holding off Shelby 68-64 in overtime. The win assured Anaconda of their first state championship appearance since 1989 — and with one more magical win their first state championship since 1948.

A pro-Copperhead crowd watched an aerial barrage of 3s by Shelby continue to hit the mark — nine to be exact — but when it came down to crunch time Anaconda was the team making the most of their opportunities.

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Copperheads ride solid first half to dump Whitehall in Class B first round

BILLINGS — Anaconda’s first state tournament in over 10 years couldn’t have tasted any sweeter.

Riding a solid first half both offensively and defensively, the Copperheads avenged an 18-point loss to Whitehall earlier this year to roll into the semifinals with a 68-55 first round win.

Anaconda’s half court sets set the tone and the defense did the rest as they bolted out to a 29-15 lead at the half. With 2:14 left in the second quarter, Anaconda led by 17 and looked to be having no problems against the Trojans.

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Copperheads with a chance to rewrite history; start Class B state tournament Thursday

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Anaconda’s Trent Mikalatos, left, Bobby Swainston, Kadin Stetzner, Devon Kopp, Kayne Cobban and Braxton Hill lead the Copperheads into Thursday’s State B tournament at the MetraPark in Billings.


On Thursday, Anaconda will embark on a journey that doesn’t happen in the Smelter City every year. Following their first divisional championship since 2005 last week at the Western B played in Ronan, whispers have begun to gain steam and grow to a dull roar. When is the last time we went to a state tournament? When was the last time we won a state championship or even played in a trophy game in the final tournament of the year?

Well thanks to the fantastic statistical data collected and archived by the late Tom White along with the information I’ve added, I have that information for you.

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Copperheads set for rematch against Libby in Western B First Round

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Anaconda’s Trent Mikalatos, left, Bobby Swainston, Kadin Stetzner, Devon Kopp, Kayne Cobban and Braxton Hill lead the Copperheads into Thursday’s Western B Divisional first round in Ronan. PHOTO BY CS PHOTO/Blake Hempstead

Tomorrow at 9 p.m., it will almost be a year to the day when Anaconda lost their first round game at the Western B Divisional – a 69-64 upset in a game many Anaconda should have breezed through. When they take the court this time around, they will be staring at the same jersey wanting to prove the first time wasn’t a fluke.

It’s eerily the same situation as well, pitting the 6B No. 2-seed Copperheads (12-9, 6-4) against the 7B No. 3-seed Loggers (no official record reported) with a chance to take on the winner of Bigfork/Florence in the semifinals.


Hill (32), Swainston, back left, and Kayne Cobban all get a piece of the shot against Frenchtown in a 57-52 road loss earlier this year. PHOTO COPYRIGHT CS PHOTO/Blake Hempstead

According to Slim Kimmel of MTN and, he’s predicting a possible run for Anaconda as the darkhorse in the tournament. But Anaconda isn’t taking anything for granted this time around.

It’s been a tale of two seasons for Anaconda this season. A solid showing at the Tip Off Tournament with a 10-point win over Big Timber and three-point loss to 1B Fairfield including their first win over Class A Butte Central in 10 years had the team feeling on top of the world.


Kayne Cobban


Kadin Stetzner


Gabe Byrne










But, a season-ending broken arm to 6-5 sophomore reserve Zeke Buck and other depth issues were a big cause of concern in the middle of the campaign. Fast forward to the final week of the season: Anaconda was a full strength and showed the type of team they could be.

Anaconda finished the season on a four-game winning streak with wins over St. Ignatius, Ronan, then No. 1-ranked Missoula Loyola and Florence – the last two wins rebounding from earlier losses to the Rams and Falcons.

The Copperheads also survived a first-round district scare against St. Ignatius followed by ending a three-game losing streak against Deer Lodge in the semifinals before falling 53-50 to Loyola in the 6B title game.

No matter the detours, Anaconda has a clear path to their first state tournament trip since 2004-05. With a win over Libby, Anaconda will have a matchup in the Friday nightcap at Ronan Events Center with Florence – a team they split the season series with – and Bigfork – a 16-4 squad with losses to Florence and Loyola on the season.

First thing is first, take care of Libby.

“We know that we can’t overlook anyone around tournament time,” said 6-foot-6 junior forward Trent Mikalatos Wednesday. “We are motivated to go and play them, we are hungry and want to get them back for last year.”


Trent Mikalatos

Mikalatos, averaging 13.2 points/game, had nine last year against Libby and classmate Braxton Hill, averaging a team-high 22.2 ppg this season, led the team with 18. Libby drained 10 treys last year – seven of which came from graduating seniors Anthony Johnson (16 points) and Johnny Cielak (26 points). Team-leading sophomore Ryggs Johnson, playing basketball to pass the time as he chases an eventual PGA Tour card, was held to 12 points but did manage to make the final three, 3-point shots for the Loggers.

Hill is the catalyst for the Copperheads, who come in averaging 59.4/game. He has been bolting up the Anaconda All-Time scoring list this year, most recently passing Zach Parks (1,098) and Tyler Hurley (1,109) last week in the 6B tournament. Now with 1,156 career points, Hill is two points away from John Cheek Jr. (1,158) and 13 from Cory Huot (1,169) in seventh- and sixth-place, respectively. Jim Cordial is No. 5 with 1,240 before there’s a 200-point jump to Wayne Estes at No. 4 with 1,440.


Braxton Hill

Next to Mikalatos and Hill, 6-3 senior 2-guard Kadin Stetzner has been finding his stroke of late, picking his average up to 8.1 ppg along with 6-2 junior wing Bobby Swainston’s versatile 10.1 ppg. Six-foot-four senior post Kayne Cobban has reveled in his role of being the garbage man down low. More of a threat defensively and on the boards, Cobban contributes 5.5 ppg. From the bench, senior guard Devon Kopp, junior guard Gabe Byrne and sophomore forward Riley Cobban should see plenty of time this weekend.

Live coverage of the game can be heard locally on KANA 580 AM and streamed live at or by downloading the live streaming app on Apple and Google Play stores by using keyword KANA 580. Legendary broadcaster Mick Holien, who enjoyed a 31-year career as Voice of the Griz for University of Montana football and men’s basketball games, will join the broadcast as a guest color commentator.


Hill becomes 13th AHS male to eclipse 1,000 points

IMG_3861With 2:37 left in the third quarter of Saturday’s 50-43 overtime loss at Deer Lodge, Braxton Hill accomplished what only 15 others have done at Anaconda High School. Hill stepped to the free throw line following a technical foul by Warden’s guard Brock Doiron and scored his 1,000th career point by knocking down both free throw attempts.

Hill scored a game-high 23 in the loss, bringing his current total to 1,006.

-List compiled by Tom White and Blake Hempstead

-List compiled by Tom White and Blake Hempstead

Still just a junior, Hill became the 13th male to score 1,000 points, now trailing current Copperhead assistant coach Rochi Estes by 12 as he begins his climb up the list.

Three Copperhead girls’ basketball players have also eclipsed 1,000 career points including Ali Hurley, Torry Hill, Braxton’s sister, and Courtney Moodry.

Hill currently is averaging 22.6 points/game for the Copperheads sitting in the middle of the pack in a talented 6B District. Anaconda will be back on the floor Tuesday at Memorial Gymnasium to host district rival Florence. Live radio coverage will be available on the Mighty 580 KANA or

Hill closing in on AHS basketball royalty


Anaconda junior Braxton Hill surveys the defense during last week’s game against Butte Central. PHOTO BY MELISSA HEMPSTEAD

With 12 games down this season, Anaconda junior Braxton Hill is poised to stake his claim to a list filled with Copperhead greatness.

Hill, averaging 21.5 points/game this season, could reach the vaunted 1,000-point club by the end of the weekend. Only 15 players have ever scored more than 1,000 points at Anaconda High – 12 of which are males.

Currently, Hill has 947 career points through 54 games (17.6 ppg) with current AHS assistant coach Rochi Estes (1,018) in his sights. And depending on any postseason success, if Hill continues along the same lines as his current average he could conceivably climb as high as No. 5 on the list where Jim Cordial (1,240) sits.

The all-time scoring list was made a possibility due to the efforts of the late Tom White, and spans back to the 1950s.


  1. Ed Kalafat  1,614
  2. Rob Hurley  1,531
  3. Scott Hurley  1,516
  4. Wayne Estes  1,440
  5. Jim Cordial  1,240
  6. Cory Huot  1,169
  7. John Cheek Jr.  1,158
  8. Tyler Hurley  1,109
  9. Zach Parks  1,098
  10. Clint Rouse  1,040
  11. Bob Hurley  1,035
  12. Rochi Estes  1,018


  1. Ali Hurley  1,698
  2. Torry Hill  1,496
  3. Courtney Moodry  1,069

As a freshman, Hill scored 277 points in 20 games (13.9 ppg) along with pouring in 412 last season through 22 games (18.7 ppg).


Hill rises for two of his team-high 19 points over BC’s Sam Johnston. PHOTO BY MELISSA HEMPSTEAD

Hill still has some work to do to catch the leader Ed Kalafat, but barring injury and continuing with his average, he could do it as soon as the 12- or 14-game mark in his senior season.

Of course the all-time overall leading scorer at Anaconda High is former Montana Grizzly Ali Hurley, who is currently playing professionally in Italy.  And, what scoring chase could be complete without also chasing the leader in his own family. His sister, Torry, scored 1,496 career prep points even though her senior season was cut short due to a season-ending ACL injury.

Winter sports schedule posters released for basketball, wrestling teams

With the winter sports season kicking off today with the Copperhead wrestlers on the road to Cascade and the boys’ and girls’ hoops teams holding their annual Blue-Silver scrimmages tonight at Memorial Gymnasium, it’s time for the release of the schedule posters for each team.

Thanks to our collection of Copperhead Sports Sponsors in conjunction with KANA and Aware Inc., these posters will be available for pickup next Friday at the KANA 580 AM offices 105 Main.

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Hill named to Class B All State football team, ‘Heads earn seven slots in 6B

Anaconda junior Braxton Hill lead the Copperhead contingent in postseason awards released Wednesday, being one of nine players named to the Class B All-State Team from the 6B District.

Hill, by all accounts one of the best complete football players in the junior class, was honored on both sides of the ball. The 6-foot-2, 205-pounder was named First Team at linebacker and second team at quarterback.

The Copperhead middle linebacker led the team with 113 tackles, a staggering 14.1/game, including seven tackles for loss, nine passes defensed, four caused-two recovered fumbles and a sack in eight games. He accounted for 22 percent of the teams total tackles this season.

Offensively, Hill threw for 1,437 yards on 119-of-254 passes with 10 touchdowns. He also rushed for 216 yards and six TDs.

The lone Copperhead First Team offensive players was 6-3, 290-pound junior lineman Kynan Kellegher while Kayne Cobban, a 6-3, 200-pound senior was named to the Second Team as an offensive lineman.

Hill’s top receiver in terms of catches and yards, 6-2, 185-pound junior Bobby Swainston, earned Second Team honors, leading the team with 40 catches for 518 yards and tied with junior Trent Mikalatos with four receiving TDs.

Swainston joined Hill on the First Team defense as a defensive back. He intercepted one pass, had seven passes defensed and accounted for 31 tackles from his free safety position.

Chase Reisenauer, a 5-7, 180-pound senior was named to the Second Team at linebacker. Reisenauer played outside in the 4-3 base defense, accounting for 63 tackles, second to only Hill, four hurries, three passes defenses and an interception.


2016 6B All Conference – All State Football Selections


1st –   Kellen Round      6-1       180       Senior   Loyola
2nd – Braxton Hill         6-2       205       Junior   Anaconda


1st – Happy Cheff           5-9       170      Junior   Ronan
1st – Jackson Maricelli    6-1      180      Senior   Loyola
1st – David Koppang      6-0       185     Junior   Loyola

2nd – Bobby Swainston   6-2       185       Junior Anaconda

2nd – Zeke Misa           6-0       165                   Junior               Ronan
2nd – Cade Benjamin      6-1      175       Senior Deer Lodge

Running Back

1st – Jacob Byrne           5-11     165      Senior Loyola
2nd – John Bannon         5-6      160       Senior Deer Lodge

Offensive Line

1st – Karson Wheat       6-2      270      Junior   Deer Lodge
1st – Kynan Kellegher     6-3       290       Junior   Anaconda
1st – Gray Cook            5-10     215       Senior Ronan
1st – Ken Roth             5-11     195       Senior   Loyola
1st – Joe McElroy          6-4      240       Junior   Loyola
2nd – Austin Forson       6-3      245      Junior Deer Lodge
2nd – Kayne Cobban     6-3      200       Senior Anaconda
2nd – Coleman Taylor    6-0       270     Junior               Ronan
2nd – Braeden Beck      6-3       210       Junior               Loyola
2nd – Dawson Thrasher 6-2       225       Senior Florence

Tight End

1st – Aaron Misa            6-2      205       Senior   Ronan
2nd – Thomas Sellman    6-0       195       Senior Loyola


1st – Bridger Dragoo     6-2       225     Senior   Florence
2nd – Brendon Blood     6-0      175      Junior   Ronan



1st – Luke Ward             5-9       195     Senior   Loyola
1st – Scott Twite            5-11     160      Junior Loyola
1st – Kasey Mock          6-0       205      Senior Ronan
1st – Braxton Hill           6-2      205      Junior   Anaconda
2nd – Chase Reisenauer  5-7      180       Senior   Anaconda
2nd – Tyler Houle         6-1       165       Senior   Ronan
2nd – John Bannon        5-6      160       Senior Deer Lodge
2nd – Colter Scully          6-0       155      Senior Deer Lodge

Defensive Backs

1st – Zeke Misa             6-0      165      Junior   Ronan
1st – Bobby Swainston    6-2       185       Junior   Anaconda
1st – Cade Benjamin       6-1      175       Senior Deer Lodge
1st –   Kellen Round       6-1       180      Senior Loyola
2nd – Brendon Blood    6-0      175      Junior Ronan
2nd – Derek Richard     6-0       170       Senior   Florence
2nd – Jackson Maricelli  6-1      180       Senior   Loyola
2nd – Jacob Byrne        5-11     165      Senior   Loyola

Defensive End

1st – Carson Katen         6-0       195       Senior Florence
1st – Joaquin Trevelline   6-1       182       Senior Loyola
2nd – Thomas Sellman    6-0       195      Senior Loyola
2nd – Gray Cook           5-10     215      Senior   Ronan

Defensive Line

1st – Karson Wheat      6-2       270       Junior Deer Lodge
1st – Joe McElroy         6-4      240                   Junior   Loyola
2nd – Dawson Thrasher 6-2       225       Senior Florence
2nd – Brady Needles      5-11     190       Senior Loyola

Kick-Punt Return Specialist

1st – David Koppang    6-0      185       Junior Loyola
2nd – Koby Owens        6-2      160       Senior Deer Lodge


1st – Jacob Byrne          5-11      165      Senior Loyola
2nd – Koby Owens        6-2      160      Senior Deer Lodge


1st –  Jacob Byrne         5-11      165                   Senior   Loyola
2nd – Koby Owens       6-2      160     Senior Deer Lodge

All State

Karson Wheat, Deer Lodge; Joe McElroy, Loyola; Kellen Round, Loyola; Kasey Mock, Ronan; Braxton Hill, Anaconda; Jacob Byrne, Loyola; Bridger Dragoo, Florence; Jackson Maricelli, Loyola; Happy Cheff, Ronan.

Anaconda wins in 3OT, final calls

Anaconda came from behind twice to beat Manhattan 27–26 in triple overtime, the longest game in Mitchell stadium history Friday night.

Below are the calls of the game-winning touchdown and point after – both by Junior quarterback Braxton Hill.

Braxton Hill TD

Game-winning PAT, snap by Kayne Cobban, hold by Luke Jensen, Kick by Hill.