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'I believe': After divisional title, Hamilton Broncs eyeing memorable run at state

HAMILTON WINS.jpg
Posted at 6:04 PM, Mar 01, 2024

HAMILTON — For Class A basketball, there's only one more weekend of the high school season remaining. And for the Hamilton High Broncs, they're entering next week's State A tournament as a No. 1 seed after they took care of business last weekend at the Western A divisional in Butte.

The Broncs took home the Western A title for the first time since the 2017-2018 season, and it wasn't an easy route to get there, as the Broncs had to beat Ronan in the first round and survive Columbia Falls in a thriller in the semifinals before defeating Butte Central in the championship game.

"It feels great. We worked hard for it. And we deserve it," sophomore guard Canaan Magness said. "So I'm super happy that we won. But we got state upcoming. So we just got to focus on that. And that's our biggest priority right now. So working hard every day in practice, outside of practice, and really focusing towards state.

"I mean, it's good to like enjoy the moment and everything but state's the biggest priority right now. So really, working hard and getting better every day is the main goal."

The Broncs (19-2) started this season 13-0 but dropped back-to-back games to Butte Central and Dillon.

Those losses reset Hamilton back on track, and became a catalyst for this run of success.

"I felt like it was kind of good for us," senior guard Jackson Jessop said. "I felt like it kind of kicked us in the butt to realize that there are teams out there that can beat us.

"And it's just anyone's game when it comes down to it. So it felt really motivational, you know, so it was good to finally get kicked in the butt and then bounce back and haven't lost since."

Since those losses, it's been six straight victories, culminating at divisionals and winning the third meeting this season with the powerhouse Butte Central Maroons.

From ball movement to shooting,to becoming more tight-knit as a team through the adversity, Hamilton grew and proved they're a team that can rise after being knocked down.

"It felt really good," Jessop said. "I knew that we had it in us from the beginning. And then after losing those two, they weren't big blowouts or anything. So we knew that there's a few things here and there that needed to be fixed.

"So (we) fixed a little bit of those. And I felt like we were really good. So I felt really confident going into the tournament that we had what needed to be done."

Now the focus is on next week's Class A state tournament in Butte which runs March 7-9.

Hamilton hasn't won a boys basketball title since 1947 and hasn't played for one since 1976, but these Broncs are ready to make a run.

"High school basketball is super fun. You got to take every moment not for granted. And I mean, I think everyone's ready and I think next week we can improve, this week improve," Magness said. "So as long as we're getting better every day and trust each other have each other's backs, I believe that we could win state."