DILLON — The four seniors on Dillon's boys basketball team were all football captains last fall as the Beavers made a quick playoff exit against Miles City in the quarterfinals.
The sting of bowing out of the Class A playoffs so early served as a spark as they turned their attention to winter.
"It was really tough but then we went straight to work in the gym with basketball every day after school," said senior Daxon Graham. "We got into shape really fast and the chemistry we created was really important."
That early season work has so far paid off.
The Beavers have rolled to a 10-0 record and are now the only undefeated Class A boys team as they gear up for a home game against Frenchtown on Thursday.
"For as far as how hard we were working in the summer and how well we communicate as a team and the chemistry that we have, I don't want to say it's surprising but we definitely worked this hard to be here," said Cole Truman, a senior post.
"I didn't realize we were 10-0 until a little bit ago but there's not really any pressure," said Graham. "Being a Dillon Beaver, we've always been a successful program. Everyone's been on our back going for us, so every game is like the state chipper, so we just got to win."
To be this far in the regular season without a loss is impressive, but the Beavers are looking for another kind of breakthrough this season.
Since winning the 2017 Class A championship against Billings Central for the Beavers' record-tying 10th title -- before Dillon's current seniors had entered high school -- the Beavers have not returned to the state tournament.
Dillon has run into a logjam at the divisional tournament every year since claiming its last Class A crown.
Jonny Reiser gestured toward the array of championship banners hanging above B.W. Lodge Gym, at the dozens of reminders of what he and this team are trying to follow.
"There's been a lot of awesome leadership before us," Reiser said. "It'd be great to give the community another state championship."
Dillon's head coach, Terry Thomas, has been coaching the Beavers in some capacity since long before any of his players were born. He knows that Dillon has established a culture of winning, with the Beavers being the lone non-Class AA boys program to have won 10 championships.
He believes this team has the ability to make a deep playoff run and add to Dillon's storied athletic history and can match up with any team in Class A.
"I know there are a lot of good teams out in the state and a lot of them are playing very well," Thomas said. "But we really feel we'll be hard to beat if we play our best, play on both ends and just do the things that have gotten us here."