BILLINGS -- On paper the Billings Central Rams looked like one of the best girls basketball teams in Class A coming into this season, but we didn't know if that would translate to the court. Until last Saturday, when the Rams beat defending champion Havre by double digits. Now the question is, just how high is the Rams' ceiling?
Central has won two State A titles this decade, but this year's team may have the most talent of them all.
"I mean, it's no secret that there's some firepower there," admitted Central head coach Jetton Ailes.
Let's start with the returners. All-state post Olivia Moten-Schell in the middle is paired with all-conference wings Izzy Erickson and Solei Elletson, plus a deep bench that will allow the Rams to run.
"We like to play up tempo a little bit," Ailes said. "Those rotations are going to be key."
"We have so many young girls that have stepped up, and we can definitely sub five for five this year, so it'll be a fun experience," added Erickson, a junior wing.
One of those young girls is the first high school freshman to ever commit to the Montana Lady Griz - former Laurel star Mya Hansen, who will immediately take command of a potent offense.
"You're not going to find a better kid," Ailes said. "She works hard, she sets the example, she sets the tone."
"She's a great teammate," said forward Cindy Gray. "She knows how to work the ball around, and she can pass down low really well."
"It's really fun not having to play against her because, obviously, she's extremely talented," Erickson added.
Hansen almost led Laurel past eventual champion Havre in last year's State A semis. Central also fell in that round by a single point to Hardin, which the Rams still have their eyes on.
"We definitely need to not underestimate Hardin, because obviously they return a bunch of good players," Erickson said. "We just have to work hard every single practice to live up to our potential because last year's loss at state really got us. It's definitely in the back of our minds still."
Lots of talent and motivation? That should worry everyone else.
"Any night it's going to be somebody different, which is going to be a lot of fun to watch," Ailes said with a smile.
Central gets its first shot at revenge Friday night in Hardin, with tipoff scheduled for 6 p.m.