LODGE GRASS — Three-peat.
It’s been in the back of the minds of the Lodge Grass boys basketball team since sharing a State B title with Fairfield in Butte in 2020, and moved to the forefront after rolling Manhattan in last year’s title game in Billings.
Lodge Grass has reached the pinnacle in consecutive years, but the foundation of that success has been built off the floor with three simple words.
“Anything is possible if you work for it. Not only in the gym, but like we say, home, class, gym. Getting your chores done at home. Telling your family you love them. It’s the little things that add up to being successful. That’s what we want to work on,” said senior Damon Gros Ventre.
“Comfort is the friend of mediocrity, the enemy of greatness. Greatness is doing the little things every single day," head coach Josh Stewart said. "Doing your chores. Getting up early to study. Not staying up late to study, going to bed early and waking up early to study. Eating right. No junk food, no deli. No video games. Respecting and honoring your parents and grandparents and those who helped raise you and doing those little things to help carry your weight at home. That’s why we say home, class, gym. You can’t be a champion in the gym if you’re not one in the classroom. You can’t be one in the classroom if you’re not one at home. Let’s start at home.”
That simple mantra of home, class, gym has highlighted the blue-collar traits of Lodge Grass on the hardwood. While conditioning in practice, the Indians will repeat ‘Their hardest day, our workout.’ That effort translates to the floor where they’re relentless on both ends for all 32 minutes.
“Someone’s out there working just like we are. We want to keep in mind that someone is working. Let’s work harder than them right now," Stewart said. "We just try to push it beyond our limits so we’re ready for anything. We always say, ‘Respect everyone, fear no one.’ And with that we always say, ‘Never overlook a struggling team. Never back down from a powerhouse.’”
Now with the State B tournament looming just over two months away in Bozeman, the Indians look to repeat a bit of history. Lodge Grass won 3 in a row back in the days of Elvis Old Bull, and this band of seniors looks to leave a mark on the next generation just like Old Bull did in his day.
“It’s surreal, because growing up they always say, ‘You’re going to be the one to put up a banner.’ Growing up on a reservation I’m thinking that’s going to be hard. That’s tough. That’s winning state," senior D.C. Stewart said. "Hard work. Just kept working hard and we’ve got two up there. I’ve always known Lodge Grass to have five, now we have seven.”
“If we can impact and inspire one person out there just to be better, work harder, to think beyond basketball, help somebody regardless of race, color, any of those issues, but you can look at them as a human and a person who has struggles just like them," Josh Stewart said. "We might be able to make them smile or say, ‘Hey, if they can do it. I can do it.’”
Since Lodge Grass’s 3-peat in 1988, 89 and 90, six teams in Class B have had the opportunity to win three consecutive titles. However, none have been successful since Old Bull’s Indians.
“Knowing that we were coming in working for a three-peat, I feel like we got more disciplined. Obviously it’s the hardest one. Like Mike (Chavez) says, it’s the hardest one. This offseason has just been work every single day,” Gros Ventre said.
“It’s possible. It’s not going to be handed to us. We know that if we keep doing the right things – staying humble, keep our faith strong, work really hard and do those things right at home and in the classroom – things will flow in the gym,” Josh Stewart said.
They say history has a way of repeating itself. It just might come March.