MISSOULA – Montana and Wyoming meet as non-conference rivals every year. But Sunday’s game will be extra special for two of its opponents.
Lady Grizzly Maddie Keast and Cowgirl Olivia Roberts were teammates for two of the Sentinel Spartans’ three state championships. During their time in purple and gold, the two combined to lead Sentinel to a 44-2 record. Montana heavily recruited both, but only Keast decided to remain in Missoula.
Though the two teams play one another each year, the two players have never been collegiate opponents, as Keast redshirted her freshman season and missed Montana’s final 19 games with a foot injury last season.
However, that will change on Sunday.
“Oh I’m looking forward to it so much. It’s something we talk about all the time,” said Keast. “Regardless of the game, I’m just excited to see her and have her back in Missoula.”
“It’ll definitely be weird being on opposite sides of the court,” added Roberts. The two friends haven’t played basketball together since this summer during Montana’s open gyms. “I’m just excited to see how she’s grown as a basketball player, and I think the same goes for her.”
Keast is averaging 5.2 points per game in her redshirt sophomore season for the Lady Grizzlies, and has started the last four games leading into Sunday’s contest.
Meanwhile in Laramie, “Liv” is having a breakout season. The junior forward was recently selected as the Mountain West Conference Player of the Week after setting career-highs in points (21) and rebounds (12) and leading Wyoming to wins over Southern Utah and South Dakota, respectively. Roberts is averaging 13.7 points per game and 6.4 rebounds per game for the Cowgirls this season.
“She’s made herself a very complete player, and credit to her,” Lady Grizzlies coach Shannon Schweyen said of Roberts. “She’s always been a hard worker and lives in the gym, and she’s having a great year at Wyoming.”
“She’s just a physical specimen,” added Keast. “I know she works her butt of. She definitely took the road less traveled by moving away from Missoula, kind of establishing herself on her own.
“Being able to really make a name for herself down there, and embrace the type of career that she wanted to have, I couldn’t be more proud of her.”
While Roberts and Keast have never been opponents at the college level, the Lady Grizzly forward was outspoken about a moment they did play against each other.
After playing in basketball camps for two straight weeks, the former Spartans were placed on opposing teams for an exhibition game during a Griz camp. After winning the first of their two state titles together, the teammates got a chance to test their abilities against each other. And they didn’t hold anything back…
“I’m pretty sure we both ended up in tears, and were just beating the crap out of each other. So it should be interesting how this game ends; hopefully not in the same way. But I did get a win if she asks, I did win. We won here,” Keast said, adamant in reminding who the victor was.
Good thing she did, because Roberts had tried to forget about that game.
“Maddie’s team ended up winning by like, 1 or 2 points, it was very last-second. I walked out of the gym, and I was so mad, and I was crying–More so because I was tired and she beat me,” said Roberts.
“That’s not going to be the case this time, it’s going to be the other way around. I forgot about that moment, I’m glad she reminded you.”
Of course, Keast feels the same way. The two games her best friend has donned a Wyoming jersey versus Montana, Roberts’ team left victorious. Keast hopes she can change that on Sunday.
“Oh yeah, no I want to beat her. I don’t want to lose to her again.”
Montana and Wyoming tip-off in Dahlberg Arena at 2 o’clock on Sunday.