HAMILTON — As February approaches and postseason basketball nears, the Hamilton Broncs (13-1) have been one of the premier programs in Class A boys basketball this season.
The Broncs are no strangers to success, but there were question marks coming into this season after losing four seniors, all of them starters and some for multiple years, on strong teams.
"We didn't really know coming into the year what we were going to be like," Hamilton head coach Travis Blome said. "We had to kind of find our identity, but like our guys have really stepped up in from, all the way at number 12 all the way to the starters, have really worked hard and in practice and throughout the year and they've really had each other's backs."
This year's Broncs team sports six seniors in Cole Dickemore, Jackson Jessop, Hunter Stewart, Lucas Lant, Jesse Chandler and Tristan Koerner, as they've reloaded, but they're getting some help from younger guys too, like junior Tyler Jette and sophomore Canaan Magness, who is one of the state's top scorers.
"Us just having a couple guys off the bench step up that really haven't played basketball, or had any varsity exposure, just coming in playing with confidence and knowing their role," Magness said. "And then also the starters just taking advantage and playing to their best ability."
"Last year, we had a really deep bench," Jette added. "And so we had like an eight-man roster. So we already had some guys coming off the bench. And like, we knew (this) year, we were going to be filling those roles. So I mean, it's nice to see that we can compete and do all that stuff as a team."
Hamilton started the season off a perfect 13-0 with this group before dropping a heart-breaker Saturday against Butte Central on a buzzer-beater for its first loss. It was a battle between two teams ranked in the top five in this week's MontanaSports.com boys basketball rankings.
Still, this team showed all season it can close out close games against top competition, and that's what the Broncs will be tasked with often come late February and March.
"It's nice to know that if we just like believe in each other and really just play hard and do the little things right, we can all compete with any team I think," Jette said.
With a strong start already, now Hamilton is ready to show it can bounce back from adversity and get ready to make a splash as the most important games of the year rapidly approach.
"We showed that we have talent and we play like super well together," Magness said. "As a whole, I'm very proud of what we've done this season. I want to keep going and you know, towards the end of the year, just play our best basketball."