BOZEMAN — One and four.
That's the record that Gallatin boys' basketball has had in their heads this week as they look ahead to Friday night traveling crosstown for what’s going to be an all-out brawl against Bozeman High and a matchup that couldn’t be more even.
However, there’s no denying that the Hawks have owned this rivalry winning the last four, which is why Friday it’s all about earning respect for Gallatin High.
“We’re hungry, and we know we have a lot to prove," Raptors head basketball coach Michael Claxton stated. "Every time we step on the floor there are question marks behind our program because we’re you, but stepping on the floor against a team like this with something to prove, I just know these kids are going to leave their hearts on the floor.”
When both teams step out onto the floor Friday night, it will be like looking at a mirror.
Not only do the two have the same number of seniors (3) as well as the same exact record (7-2, 5-1 Eastern AA), but each team also touts two of the best points guards in the Treasure State: Eli Hunter and Kellen Harrison.
“We have to make sure Eli takes tough shots," Bozeman head basketball coach Troy Hostetler said. "He’s going to get them points. He’s a good player, but we have to make it tough for him.”
Through mid-January, the six-foot-two senior has been a force on the floor leading the state in scoring with 20.4 points per game, but also has a presence on the boards hauling in an average of 7.3 rebounds.
With a stat line like his, it’s no secret Hunter been at the top of every team’s scouting report this season, but the same can be said for Bozeman’s Kellen Harrison.
“He’s an electric guard that plays both ends of the floor very well," Claxton described.
Harrison is ranked fourth in the state averaging 18.7 points on the floor, but the Hawks also have just as strong of an inside presence with Luke Smith and Jake Casagranda.
“They’re all solid one through five, so it’s kind of hard to put too much pressure on one person," Raptors senior point guard Eli Hunter saud. "They’re going to come out physical. We know that, but we know we can match their physicality for sure on both ends of the floor.”
“They’ve got guys, (but) we’ve got guys," Hawks senior power forward Luke Smith added. "I think it will be an even matchup as well. They have guys that can hit shots. We have guys that can hit shots and guys that can get those rebounds on both sides. I think it’s going to be pretty even between both teams.”
Both teams enter Friday sitting tied for second in Eastern AA with a 5-1 conference, but that’s only because Billings West has an extra game on them after Thursday night’s win over Belgrade.
Whoever comes out victorious Friday will also move up into first sharing control of Eastern AA with the Golden Bears.
Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. MT at Bozeman High.