The Montana-Wyoming all-star basketball series is back after the 2020 hiatus, and it’s bringing two talented Montana teams to the table.
The girls are led by the tallest roster in team history, headlined by 6-foot-6 Montana State commit Lindsey Hein of Forsyth. But she’s just one of five 6-footers on the roster.
“I think that we can use, like coach (Wes) Keller talked about, kicking in, getting outside shots, kicking back out, just using our height," Hein said. "Also on the defensive end they’re going to have a hard time matching up with us, so we can use that to our advantage, too.”
The Montana girls only have eight players that will suit up this weekend after three other 6-footers dropped out. Of those eight, though, four have been part of state championship teams in the past two seasons.
“It’s kind of cool that we have so many people on the team that have won state," said Big Timber's Hailee Brandon, the State B MVP. "I think that’s such a cool thing and we all like talking about it. It’s nice having that difference on the team. Everybody is that good.”
Head coach Wes Keller’s girls carry a bit of a win streak with them, too, having won the past seven meetings dating back to 2016. Carrying on the winning tradition is priority No. 1.
“They said that. They were like, ‘We haven’t lost since 2016 or 2017,’ so we don’t want to be the group that loses it," Hein said.
The boys have quite the streak going as well. Montana has won 16 consecutive meetings with Wyoming, coinciding with the beginning of current University of Providence head coach Steve Keller’s tenure as the man in charge.
“What streak? What are you talking about?" Keller laughed. "I think pretty much they’ve heard that before, so they know what’s on the line. So does Wyoming, though. Wyoming could have won both games (in 2019) on us. They’re always tough and going to compete. They’ve got a real good team this year. We’re going to try and get our guys to play hard and get two more.”
“He’s told us about it. We don’t want to break his winning streak, but we’re going to go out there like any other game and have fun," said Missoula Sentinel's Alex Germer.
“That’s basically it. I don’t want to be the team that does it, so I’m going to do what I can to not be that team. We’re going to come out and win. Like he said, he said that winning is fun," Scobey's Aidan Fishell said. "Come out here and if we win we’re going to be happy. There’s nothing fun about losing, so we’ll do whatever we can to get the win.”
Fishell won’t be fazed by the pressure, having won a pair of State C titles with Scobey and playing on Class C’s biggest stage multiple times. He will, however, take on a different role this weekend than he occupied with the Spartans, while also being the only Class C representative as teammate Caden Handran won’t play due to a groin injury.
“Class C, sometimes it’s overlooked. I just want to prove to people that there’s good basketball in Class C. I wish (Handran) could be out there to play with me, because it’s fun to play with someone like (Handran) that shares the ball and has great court vision," said Fishell. "In Scobey, I was more of a scoring role. I was our leading scorer, so I kind of scored a lot for our team. But it’s going to be fun to develop my real point guard skills, because I do like to pass the ball, throw the oops.”
The Montana boys and girls will look to extend their winning streaks over Wyoming beginning at 5:30 p.m. on Friday night at the Golden Dome in Sheridan. The two teams will battle again on Saturday night at Lockwood High School.
The Montana girls have a 33-13 all-time series advantage, while the Montana boys hold a 61-27 all-time advantage in the series.