It was a banner year for Paige and Dani Bartsch. The twins helped lead Helena Capital to a second straight Class AA state volleyball championship in the fall and a state basketball championship in the spring.
The Bruins ended up sharing the girls AA title with Billings West, after the state title game was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Prior to that, Capital had beaten Billings Skyview and Missoula Hellgate to clinch a spot in the title game.
The twins were an essential part of a 22-1 season that ended with a Western AA regular season title, a Western AA Divisional title and a state co-championship.
Capital won as much hardware as it could possibly win and after each Bartsch twin was named All-State and First-Team All-Conference in the Western AA, they will have to share something else: The 2019-20 All-Area Girls Basketball Player of the Year Award.
Paige Bartsch, the Boise State volleyball commit, scored 14 points a game this season for the Bruins, shooting 55.2 percent from the field, while averaging 9.8 rebounds. She also finished with 80 blocked shots, a school record and broke Dani’s record for rebounds in a season with 209. Dani had 203 back in 2018-19.
The 6-foot-4 junior was dominant, especially as the season wore on. The highlight came when she registered a triple-double, the first in school history for girls basketball against Glacier with 21 points, 13 rebounds and 10 blocks.
However, it wasn’t the only triple-double in program history for long as Dani notched her own the next day against Flathead. The 6-foot-1 junior, who is committed to the Lady Griz for basketball, finished with 16 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists.
Dani was also an All-State selection, joining her sister in getting selected for volleyball too. She scored 11.9 points per game this season and averaged 7.4 rebounds, three assists and just under two steals per game. She also has 468 career rebounds, which as of right now, makes her the Bruins all-time leader.
“They are both deserving of it,” Capital head coach Katie Garcin-Forba said. “Paige shows up with more scoring, blocks and rebounding. But Dani literally does it all for us. I think either of those two out-match other players in our area.”
Joining the Bartsch twins on the All-Area First Team are fellow bruins Mashayla O’Malley and Mara McGinley.
Both were Honorable Mention in the Western AA and McGinley averaged 7.7 points per game, while connecting on 41 3-pointers. She had 21 points at the state tournament. O'Malley, a senior, earned her way onto the All-Area First Team with an average of 5.9 points and 2.4 assists, as well as doing things that don’t show up in the box score.
The six-player first team also included Helena High’s McKayla Kloker, an All-State selection. Kloker, who is playing at Montana Tech next season, scored 12.1 points a game during her senior year and was good on 43 3-pointers.
Rounding out the All-Area First Team is Rachel Van Blaricom of Jefferson. She scored 12.4 points per game on her way to earning All-State honors in Class B. She made 16 3-pointers and was the first Panthers girls basketball player to make an All-State team as a sophomore.
Helena had had a total of five players honored as Caroline Bullock, Emily Feller, Kylie Lantz and Riley Thennis made Second Team All-Area. The four Bengals were joined by Peyton Vogl and Taylor Noyes, two seniors from Townsend.
2020 IR All-Area Girls Basketball Team
Paige Bartsch, Capital
Class AA All-State; 14.0 points avg (55.2% shooting), 9.8 rebounds avg, 37 steals, 55 free throws made; school record 80 season blocks (2018 record, Taylor Sullivan, 70); school record 209 season rebounds (2019 record, Dani Bartsch, 203).
Dani Bartsch, Capital
Class AA All-State; 11.9 points avg, 7.4 rebounds avg, 3.0 assists avg, 44 steals, 20 blocks; school record 468 career rebounds (2018 record, Taylor Sullivan, 403).
McKayla Kloker, Helena
Class AA All-State; 12.1 points avg, 2.1 assists avg, 43 3-point FG (36.1% shooting), 77.5% FT, 29 steals.
Rachel Van Blaricom, Jefferson
Class B All-State; 12.4 points avg, 16 3-pt; first Lady Panther sophomore to make All-State basketball.
Mara McGinley, Capital
Class AA Honorable Mention All-Conference; 7.7 points avg, 41 3-pointers (30.4% shooting); Scored 21 points at state tournament.
Mashayla O’Malley, Capital
Class AA Honorable Mention All-Conference; 5.9 points avg, 2.4 assists avg, 42 steals.
Caroline Bullock, Helena
Class AA Honorable Mention All-Conference; 5.8 points avg (53.8% shooting), 7.4 rebounds avg, 23 steals.
Peyton Vogl, Townsend
Class B Second Team All-Conference; 9.1 points avg.
Emily Feller, Helena
Class AA Honorable Mention All-Conference; 4.4 points avg, 3.1 assists avg, 22 steals.
Kylie Lantz, Helena
7.8 points avg, 24 3-pointers, 29 steals.
Riley Thennis, Helena
6.4 points avg, 1.6 assists avg.
Taylor Noyes, Townsend
Class B Second Team All-Conference; 7.6 points avg, 70.4% FT.
— IR columnist Curt Synness also contributed to this story
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