HAVRE — There’s no question how much of a star Tiara Gilham was in high school.
The forward from Browning enjoyed three all-state selections and helped lead the Indians to a third-place finish at the State A girls basketball tournament in 2016. Right after that, she signed with Montana Western and was set to further impress.
But then her college career almost didn’t happen.
"I went down there. I really enjoyed it. But it was ... I'm really family-orientated. So I was way too far away from home," Gilham said. "It was like a six-hour drive. I miss my mom, my dad, everybody. So, I actually left Western and I actually had no intention of playing college basketball again."
But Gilham couldn’t stay away from the game. It wasn’t long before she was calling head coach Chris Mouat at Montana State-Northern looking for a second chance.
"She's got a great personality. Our team loves her and she's fun to watch," Mouat said. "She brings a different skill set than most people at her position. She's able to bring it up the floor, play almost the point guard spot at times, steps out and shoots 3s and then can post up, so she's pretty unique and pretty special to us."
It was a great move for Gilham, her family, and the Skylights program, which has improved incrementally every year since adding her. Gilham said her family is able to make it to all her games, and she also participates on the golf team, fulfilling another lifelong hobby.
But it hasn't been a completely smooth experience at Northern. Gilham also deals with recurring knee pains, making her sit out occasionally. Still, it allows her to get experience in another interest area of hers - coaching. Gilham is set to be an academic all-American this year, and she’s getting a certificate in coaching in addition to her health promotions major.
"I do want to coach, whether I go back home or at the college level," Gilham said. "But I know I want to coach basketball some time."
Until then, her sights are set on what this Northern team can accomplish in the gauntlet that is the Frontier Conference. At 15-5 overall and 4-4 in conference, the Skylights are right in the thick of things, and anyone can beat anyone come postseason.
"I’m very confident we’re going to go far. We play too well together, we put in too much work," Gilham said. "So many people that bring so much different talent, gifts, skills to this team. We have a chemistry that’s almost unbreakable right now. It’s so much fun. I love this team."