MISSOULA, Mont. -

After making it to state last year as a #2 seed but not winning a game at the tournament, the Columbia Falls girls had big expectations heading into this season.

"Last year was a building block for this year I think and this year we've just believed in ourselves," said Columbia Falls junior Winter Kemppainen.

"We knew we had kids coming back from last year's team that had the experience of state last year," added head coach Cary Finberg.  "And we knew if our freshman could play up to their capabilities we'd be very good."

Very good is an understatement for the season this team has put together.  Their only loss all season was to class AA Glacier and as coach Cary Finberg said, the freshman have played a pivotal role this season, including his daughter Cydney Finberg who was the top scoring freshman in the Northwest Conference.

"Sometimes you have freshman and sophomore growing pains and with this group we really didn't have that," said Cary Finberg.

"It's definitely been different than junior high," explained freshman Cydney Finberg of her first varsity season.  "Playing for my dad is very fun for me.  It's been easy for me to be able to play on such a good team, I've been lucky."

The team says the biggest ingredients to their success have been hard work and good team chemistry.

"A lot of communication.  I think we hustle a lot more.  And that self confidence.," said Kemppainen.

"We're well-rounded.  We hustle a lot on defense, we talk very well and we definitely can score," added the freshman guard Cydney Finberg.

Now that the week of state has arrived, being ranked #1 in the state means nothing to this team anymore.  All that matters is staying focused and trying to bring home a state championship for the first time in over 20 years.

"We're playing for our lives right now and we can't blow this opportunity that we've set ourselves up for," said coach Finberg.

The Wildkats first state game will be Thursday afternoon at 12:30 against Belgrade.