MISSOULA, Mont. -

The Columbia Falls boys’ basketball team has a long tradition of playing in and winning state championship games.  So after last year’s third place finish at the state tournament, this year's squad had high expectations before the season even began.

"I thought we had a lot of depth this year with a lot of size and a lot of guards," said senior guard Alex Presnell.  "I thought we had a lot of people coming back and I thought this team would be very successful."

"I thought we had a lot more size than we did," agreed senior forward Jared Trinastich.  "Last year we had about six or seven kids play in games and now we have like nine kids getting solid varsity minutes so we have a lot more depth and we're a lot more together than we were last year."

It was another great season for the Wildcats but not a perfect one.  They did lose four games throughout the course of the year, but the important thing to head coach Cary Finberg is that they've continued to improve every week.

"Offensively we've been pretty good all year but we've shown great improvement on the defensive end," explained Finberg.  "Our chemistry has gotten better because of that, because now kids are buying in to the hard work and intensity that's needed on that end."

Over this past weekend in Kalispell, Columbia Falls won the divisional for the sixth straight season.  Now they're headed back to the state tournament in Great Falls this week where they'll try to become class ‘A’ champions for the fifth time in only the last 11 seasons.

"We've had great senior leadership this year and those guys were there last year.  So they know the routine.  We fully expect to back there again this year," said Finberg.

"We have a great coach and with him anything is possible," said Presnell.  "We have a good chance at bringing home some hardware."

Columbia Falls' first opponent will be Havre at 2:00 Thursday afternoon in Great Falls.