BOZEMAN — Both the Bozeman High and Bozeman Gallatin boys basketball programs started their seasons off in the win column.
Bozeman returned to the court after making a trip to the state semifinals last season and took down Butte in its season opener last Friday and then Helena on Saturday.
"Obviously, the goal is to win state," Hawks senior Quaid Ash said. "That’s one that we all talk about. Short-term goals are just improving defensively and rebounding throughout the year."
"And getting back into basketball shape," he laughed.
The Hawks have started off on track to achieve those goals by starting the season 2-0.
"It surprised me a bit on how well we were offensively," Hawks coach Troy Hostetler said. "But I was happy defensively, too. I thought we did some good things. We kept control of the ball and didn’t turn it over much, and so for the first couple games of the year, I was not displeased any."
This is the fourth season with Hostetler as head coach, meaning this senior class has spent its whole high school career with him.
"It’s a great group of kids, and so obviously we’re looking towards a great season, and I will certainly miss them when we get around to next year," Hostetler smiled.
The veteran group plays multiple sports together, most coming off the State AA championship in football last month.
"I’ve been best friends with these guys my whole life, and wrapping it up with basketball, we lost some of the guys from football, but to be able to continue through with some of my other good friends from basketball is really special, and I just look forward to every game," Ash said.
Over at Gallatin, Raptors coach Micahel Claxton has also been at the helm for four years — since the school opened its doors in 2020.
"We took some hard punches there and got pushed around quite a bit in our first season," Claxton explained. "But since then, we’ve been able to level out the playing field and for our guys to physically mature and to get some of that experience under their belt that you need at the (Class) AA level."
The program quickly became one of the playoff contenders after its first season, and this year the team looks to make another deep run in the postseason.
"Everyone is kind of realizing they’re here to play, and they’re not just a new school anymore," Raptors senior Jack Repscher said. "They’re settled in and ready to go."
It's a special season for Claxton, coaching the first seniors in the program that have been at Gallatin for the entirety of their high school careers.
"It's been really fun to witness and be part of," Claxton said. "You know, just being part of these kids' journey and seeing them reach milestone after milestone in their careers, and we still have a lot more in front of us that we want to achieve before it’s said and done.”
A key for to achieve those goals will be bringing the intensity every day in practice.
"I think it’s been one of the best we’ve ever had," Repscher referred to the high level of play they have in each practice. "JV and Varsity just taking it to each other every day and just making everybody better."
The Raptors beat Helena Capital this past Saturday to open their season.