CollegeFrontier Conference


Reserves Keeley Bake, Chrishon Dixon highlight depth of Montana Tech's roster

Posted at 1:38 PM, Feb 21, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-21 16:15:43-05

BUTTE — Keeley Bake's high school basketball career ended in Butte with a big question mark.

He and his Fairfield team were scheduled to face off against Lodge Grass in the State B boys basketball championship at the Butte Civic Center in March of 2020.

We all know how that ended. But for Bake, now a junior guard with the Montana Tech men's basketball team, he went on to experience that championship feeling in the Mining City.

He's been part of Tech's run of back-to-back Frontier Conference regular-season and tournament championships — part of the Orediggers' transformation from a fledgling program to a top-10 squad.

And after the Orediggers' win over Carroll College on Saturday, Tech (22-4 overall, 12-1 in conference play) needs to win just one of its two remaining regular-season games to claim its third outright conference crown.

"Growing up as a kid it's stuff that you dream about, winning championships," said Bake. "When you get a special group of guys and they gel together and there's no drama it just makes your days seem 10 times easier and 10 times more fun."

As a reserve on Tech's deep roster — one that has seen 18 players contribute points this season — Bake has developed a penchant for delivering timely 3-pointers off the bench. He's poured in 34 triples so far this season and is on track to surpass the 41 he delivered as a sophomore.

For Bake, those individual stats aren't nearly as relative as his team's record.

"It's not about yourself, it's about the other guys," said Bake. "They got my back, I got their back. It's a really special group to be part of, and the brotherhood mentality that we have."

Bake is one of three Tech reserves who have scored over 100 points this season, the others being junior Camdyn LaRance and senior Chrishon Dixon who arrived at Tech last season after playing at the NCAA Division II level at his hometown college MSU Billings and Pima Community College in Arizona.

Dixon has scored 165 points this season but has also emerged as the Orediggers' leader in assists with 82. His 3.3 assists per game ranks fifth in the conference and that production is grounded in a team-first attitude.

"The ball creates energy," said Dixon. "When everyone's touching the ball, everybody gets involved in the game, the crowd gets involved, the bench gets involved and everybody just gets happy for one another. We're all playing for each other."

Returning to his home state last season proved to be the right move for Dixon, who helped Tech lock up consecutive conference titles. With the regular season winding down and the Frontier Conference tournament approaching, he'll now have a chance to help Tech lock up a third straight outright regular-season title — which would be a program first — and aim for a third straight tournament crown, something that hasn't been done at Montana Tech since Kelvin Sampson's teams accomplished the feat between 1983 and 1985.

"I'm really thankful I'm part of a winning culture," said Dixon. "I'm also thankful for this community, they brought me in and treated me like a son."

The Orediggers close out the regular season at Montana Western on Thursday and at Providence on Saturday. The Frontier Conference tournament is set to run from Feb. 29 through March 2.