MISSOULA — This past basketball season was a big one for Missoula Big Sky as the Eagles girls program made it back to the Class AA state tournament for the first time since 2016.
A big reason why they've grown substantially the last two seasons has been the play of standout sophomore Kadynce Couture, who keeps getting better, and has lofty goals for her team.
"I think we grew up a lot, but there was also a lot of, at the end of the season, kind of a disappointment because we are super young but we have really high goals," Couture told MTN Sports. "And so once we got to state and we lost out, it was like darn it, we can do a lot better next year. Like especially with how many we're returning, we know the damage we can do next year."
Couture has been game ready since she got to high school.
She has started for the Eagles from her very first game, and in two years, is already one of the state's best talents.
"I think, honestly growing up, I always played up or I played with some bigger kids, so I think that helped," Couture said. "But honestly it was coming in and having such welcoming teammates. Like at the end of the day, when I came in, everybody got along. And so I think that that honestly made me more comfortable.
"I had older uncles playing in high school when I was in kindergarten, so just bouncing gym to gym, kind of seeing the game, I knew that's what I wanted to do. I knew that at every game I was going to see everybody in my family so I think that that's one thing that really brought me to basketball was it had a sense of family in it."
Growing up, Couture idolized a lot of Montana Lady Griz players, including former standouts McKenzie Johnston and Jace Henderson.
It's athletes like them who she has since modeled her game after.
"I think it's just because I watch so much basketball growing up, and I watched the players that I wanted to be like and the players that I didn't want to be like and the one thing that really separated the two was their attitude," Couture said. "So I knew that if I let the game get to me, I was going to have a bad attitude, but if I just kind of let it come to me, I would say those are different. And so that's kind of how I deal with it."
Already, Couture is drawing interest from the high-level basketball and Division I schools.
She currently holds offers from Montana and Montana State, and heading into a pivotal junior year, could see that attention increase even more.
In fact, MSU offered Couture as a freshman before she'd even played in her first high school game, and it's a memory she'll never forget.
"I was on the phone, and I don't like talking on the phone in front of people, so I was hiding in my room and she was like maybe go talk to your mom, like go sit on your mom's bed, so I was sitting with my mom and she was like, 'Oh I just wanted your mom to hear you get your first D1 offer,'" Couture recalled. "And like, I just remember I didn't respond because I was like, 'Do I say thank you to that? Like, thank you!' And I just started cheesing out, and honestly my mom has a picture, it's probably one of my favorite pictures."
Couture will head into the summer playing AAU ball for the Northwest Blazers as she continues to grow her game.
The sky truly is the limit for an athlete of Couture's caliber, and with her leading the way, she and the Eagles program could be flying high for the foreseeable future.
"I think a leader's job is never done, so honestly, I need to become a better leader for us next year," Couture said. "I need to develop my game personally better. I need to be a better 3-point shooter, obviously. But a lot of the work that I'm going to put in is mental.
"I could only go up from where I was and so I knew that I had to continue working honestly. Added some fuel to the fire because I knew like I'm right here now, I got an offer, but I want to be able to go out and start D1 so I needed to raise my game level a lot."