BOZEMAN — It’s the last week of the regular season for Eastern AA, and that means one thing in Bozeman: crosstown.
This game will not impact seeding going into divisionals as Bozeman will be the No. 1 seed and Gallatin the No. 3 seed. It’s just about bragging rights, and Gallatin is looking to avenge their 58-50 loss in overtime earlier this season to the Hawks, while Bozeman is looking to go 2-0 on the season against their rival.
“It’s probably a good thing that our last game of the year, which doesn’t have a lot of meaning as far as seeding like you said, is crosstown," Bozeman High head coach Troy Hostetler said. "It certainly will have our undivided attention, so you know, we need to play well.”
Like Hostetler, Gallatin head coach Michael Claxton has the same notion for his team to end the regular season on a high note.
“We’ve looked at film, reviewed the video, and think about some of the adjustments we have to make from the first matchup," Claxton said. "Some of the lessons that we learned. But we’re really preparing well and focused on making this one of our best games of the season.”
And there's one key adjustment that stands out to the Raptors as they want to come out on top this time around.
“The tempo didn’t really favor us, and so we’re trying to focus on creating some more up tempo situations for our squad as we move from the defensive end and transition onto the defensive end of the ball,” Claxton said.
Both teams are well-rounded, it’s why they earned such high seeding going into divisionals. Each coach stressed how this has been a key to success all season, as it will continue to be on Thursday night.
“I think we have different guys that can step up on different nights, and you know, Kellen [Harrison] obviously has been big with what we’re doing, but so have the bigs inside," Hostetler said. "Jake [Casagranda] and Luke [Smith] have been big inside, and Rocky [Lencioni]’s had games, so I don’t expect it to be any different.”
“The sole focus can’t just be on one player, we have other players that can put the ball in the basket," Claxton noted. "So to take a little pressure off Eli [Hunter]’s shoulders to feel like he has to do everything for our team to be successful.”
And as far as the environment, it’s going to be just as loud the second time around. The game tips off at Gallatin at 7 p.m. on Thursday night.