GREAT FALLS – The Great Falls CMR Rustlers boys basketball team came back from Butte this past weekend carrying giant smiles. The team won the Eastern AA divisional championship against Bozeman on Saturday 63-53 at Butte High.
The Rustlers earned the No. 1 seed for the tournament, securing a bye in the first round. CMR then defeated Billings Senior 58-47 in the semifinals before topping Bozeman for the title.
The Rustlers have now earned the league’s No. 1 seed for the state tournament and will play Kalispell Glacier in the first round on March 8 at Rimrock Auto Arena in Billings. At the start of the season, not many expected the Rustlers to be in this spot, but these guys have been playing together a while, and this year, it finally came together.
“Honestly, it’s our chemistry, I think. We’ve been playing since fourth and fifth grade, we just have a really good feel for each other on the court,” said CMR senior Sam Vining. “It’s awesome, I’ve never played in a state tournament before, so I’m going out the right way.”
“We’ve just been playing this way for the past month or so,” said CMR junior Russell Gagne. “Just play as a team and move the ball and (Bozeman) is a tough team, they played the best they could and we played hard. It just happened that we turned out as winners.”
“The last three or four years playing with these guys, these guys are hard workers,” said CMR junior Bryce Depping. “We’ve worked really hard. It’s just been harping on us that we’ve got a great team. We’ve worked really hard to get to where we are now and now we just have to keep that going into state.”