GREAT FALLS — The Great Falls High boys were always expected to be good this year.
With returning starters like Drew Wyman, Levi Torgerson and Tarel Rollins and 6-foot-5 sophomore Reid Harris making the jump to varsity, the Bison entered the year with a championship-caliber roster.
But in January they received an unexpected addition.
Junior forward Garrett Stone moved from Texas with his family a little more than a month ago when his mother got a job in Great Falls. He missed the entire preseason and the first two games of 2021.
But after participating in the required number of practices, he played his first game against crosstown rival CMR and immediately made his presence felt with three steals and key defensive plays off the bench.
“I wanted to come in and just show them what I'm made of,” Stone said. “I just wanted to be in my element and really help the team out in any way I can.”
The Bison coaching staff didn’t know what to expect from the newcomer who’d never played a minute of varsity basketball in Montana before.
“It’s not very often that we get guys coming to Great Falls High from out of state or out of district that ended up being productive players,” said assistant coach Eric Chaon. “But he's been that for us so far. He’s a physical kid, he’s strong, he plays hard and is starting to pick things up. So hopefully it keeps going in a good direction.”
The Bison core has been playing together for years. All-state returners Torgerson and Wyman have played on the same team for eight years. There’s always a risk that a new player could disrupt years of chemistry, but when they saw Stone play, they knew he fit in well.
“We never really had any new kids come on board throughout my four years here. And when we saw him and we came to practice, we knew he was going to be a player for us,” Torgerson said. “He's fast. He's really good on the defensive end and he's improving offensively. He just gets down, hustles all the time.”
Right now Stone is still finding his role. But for a team with state title aspirations, the hope is that Stone can be the X-factor or the missing piece to a postseason run.
“I'm pretty much the sixth man right now,” Stone said. “I'm just getting in the groove of things. I come out, I get boards, I'll shoot the ball. I'll lay it up. I'll do anything. I’m fortunate I landed on a really good team, and if we keep working together we can go far.”
“He's definitely a factor and we need that energy off the bench,” Torgerson said. “And he brings that every single time. He just loves the hustle and get up and down.”
The Bison (7-1) are tied for first place with Bozeman High atop the Eastern AA standings.