BILLINGS – The top senior basketball players in Montana opened practice Wednesday at Rocky Mountain College, less than three days before tip-off in the annual Montana-Wyoming basketball series.
Montana has dominated the series against the Cowboy State, especially on the boys’ court. The Treasure State has won eight straight contests and 13 of the last 16. No team wants to lose in the border rivalry, but with a win streak dating back to the last decade, how much pressure do the Big Sky athletes feel?
“Coming into any game there’s always a little pressure,” said Choteau forward Derrek Durocher who will play for Steve Keller and Montana Western beginning in the fall. “Being on top there’s always pressure coming into it. But, hopefully we’ll just get it done.”
Durocher is no stranger to pressure and win streaks. Choteau won the last two Class B state basketball championships and went undefeated during the span. Collin Achenbach, who will join Durocher at Western next season, hasn’t lost a game since his sophomore season.
“You know, there is a little bit of pressure,” he said. “We just want to keep the Montana streak rolling.”
The Montana girls are on a win-streak of their own after sweeping Wyoming in June of 2015. The Treasure State owns a 26-12 series lead and this year’s team wants to add to the dominance.
“It’s the atmosphere that they expect us to win,” said Emerald Toth, a state champion with the Bozeman Hawks. “I think all of us carry it high up there in our mindsets and our goals when we go out there that we want to win these games.”
Shiloh McCormick guided St. Labre to a third-place finish in the Class B state tournament in March. She will continue her career at MSU-Northern, where she will also compete in rodeo. Before joining the Skylights, she wants to add to an already impressive showing from the Montana all-stars.
“I take a lot of pride in it because Sheridan’s coach, Frank McCarthy, is wanting to beat us pretty bad,” she said. “I don’t think we’re going to let that happen.”
The girls open up the series Friday night at 5:30 p.m. in Sheridan, while the boys tip off around 7:30 p.m. The all-star teams return to Billings and clash at Rocky Mountain College on Saturday.