BILLINGS — Less than two years ago, Caden Handran of Scobey and Drew Wyman of Great Falls High were helping their home state to a sweep in the Montana-Wyoming All-Star Basketball Series.
Fast forward and the duo has climbed the collegiate mountaintop with College of Idaho, as the Yotes won the NAIA men's basketball national championship with a 73-71 win over Indiana Tech last Saturday in Kansas City.
"We were just a together group and we knew it was going to happen. We just had to weather the storm. We did. It got a little close, but we got it done," Handran told MTN Sports.
College of Idaho's title run wasn't without drama, as it held 20-point leads in both the semifinal and championship games before winning in nail-biting fashion. In fact, it was a late bucket and a split at the foul line by the second-team All-American Wyman to essentially win the title.
"I'll be honest — I was a little nervous that I missed the second one and it was a two-point game, but I ran back. Next play mentality. You've got to get back on defense and try to get a stop," Wyman said.
Handran and Wyman have played together on the AAU scene for years and envisioned a moment like this coming out of high school in 2021. Wyman was a Montana Gatorade player of the year for the Bison, while Handran had a tremendous amount of success at Scobey in helping the Spartans to a co-championship in 2020 and the outright State C crown in 2021.
So how does this national championship rank?
"Don't get me wrong, a state championship is awesome. Coming from a small town and a community like that where everyone was at the state games, it just meant a lot to our community and it was awesome, but it's not even close," Handran said. "It's surreal, honestly. Everyone back in Scobey was watching, too, so they took at as theirs. As they should, because I kind of did it for everybody."
There's a chance the Yotes bring back everyone next season, but they've got to hit the books before worrying about a repeat.
"I definitely think we're going to take a few weeks here to recover and get our physical and mental health right. Get a little caught up on classes because we missed 10 days," Wyman said. "I bet we'll start up in three, four weeks if I had to guess. We'll start lifting, getting strong and ready for the next season. We'll get some scrimmages going, some spring stuff going and it'll be good. We'll be ready to go and try to run it back next year."
Handran, Wyman and their College of Idaho teammates will likely appear near the top of next year's preseason polls.