(Editor's note: While we're faced with a sports-less world during the coronavirus pandemic, MTN Sports is going to re-publish the original stories from the #MTTop50, which launched in 2016 to profile some of the great boys basketball players in Montana history. Our intention is not to revise history, so we're not going to change the order in which the players were featured. However, some articles will include updates to reflect the latest developments in a player's career. This story was originally published on July 8, 2016.)
The 1980s produced a lot of boys basketball talent and will be further featured in the #MTTop50.
The decade featured Bill Dreikosen, who has brought his fire and passion as head men's basketball coach to Rocky Mountain College since 2000; Browning legend Gary CrossGuns; and Glendive's Roger Fasting and Kalispell's Scott Zanon, who both played at the University of Montana.
Now, we add another former Grizzly to the #MTTop50: Gary Kane of Butte.
Gary Kane stat sheet
Kane paired with Todd Ericson to form an imposing duo at Butte High in the late 1980s. Kane and Ericson helped lead the Bulldogs to a 21-0 record into the Class AA state championship, where they were upset by Kalispell. That Butte team is frequently considered one of the best teams never to win a state championship. Kane won the 1989 Gatorade Player of the Year award and played in the Montana-Wyoming all-star series, scoring 23 and 16 points in the two games. He continued his playing career with the Grizzlies, setting the freshman single-game and season scoring records, which were later eclipsed by Kevin Criswell. Kane led UM in free throws and 3-pointers made during the 1990-91 season, with his 68 3s made that year still ranking in the Grizzlies’ top 10 for 3s made in a single season. The final three years of his career were plagued by injuries, but he was still a four-year letter-winner and was voted the team’s most inspirational player in 1993-94.
… on Kane:
Former Missoula Hellgate coach Eric Hays: “He was a very difficult matchup. I think, if I remember correctly, he was about 6-(foot)-4 and he had very good guard skills. Back then, your guards were usually 6-foot, 6-1, so he was able to elevate and shoot the jump shot over guards. He could take them inside and post them up. He was a very difficult matchup. He was a good ball-handler. He was just what I call a very good high school scorer. … In high school, with his size, he would just rise up over people. Back then he could shoot the jump shot at the 3-point range, which was not that common in the late ‘80s, early ‘90s. Well, the 3-point shot had just come into existence. I think Montana started playing with it, if I remember correctly, in ‘86 or ‘87. And he would just rise up and he would shoot, and he was a very good shooter. Very, very good scorer.”