GREAT FALLS — In last week’s challenge game against Fairield, Rocky Boy senior Ben Iron Eyes dropped 39 points in a 79-76 win. But he wasn’t the team’s most important player.
It wasn’t Kordell Small or Kendall Windy Boy, either, although they certainly had great games, as well.
Rocky Boy’s MVP, and the driving force behind the Stars’ success this season, wasn’t on the court Monday night.
But his presence was felt by his teammates.
“My little brother would have loved this,” Iron Eyes said. “He’d really love this. He’d be here laughing with us and enjoying this moment.”
Iron Eyes is referring to Dakoda-crow Horse Gray Boy, known by the team as “Horse”. He was a friend, classmate and teammate of the Rocky Boy Stars who died in an automobile accident last June at the age of 16.
“Ever since I knew him, he wanted to go to state,” Small said. “When he passed on it was kind of hard for us. We dedicate this season for him, and we’re going to keep dedicating it.”
And the dedication and extra motivation has worked so far. Rocky Boy claimed the regular-season District 1B title and after a second-place finish at divisionals is headed back to the Class B state tournament for the first time since 2015.
“(Horse) should be here with us,” Small said. “But I know he’s here with us in spirit. He’s always with us. He’s there 24-7. He’s going to be with us at state, I guarantee you that.”
The Stars believe the best way to honor their friend Horse is to win, and it starts Thursday when they open the Class B tournament in Missoula against Southern B champion Three Forks at 1:30 p.m.
“Words can’t explain it,” said head coach Adam Demonitney. “I know he’s smiling down on us and it’s awesome for us to get this for him. Just incredible.”
The rules of basketball dictate that only five players can take a court at one time. But the Stars will carry a sixth man in their hearts at all times.
“Hopefully we’ll be holding up that Class B championship trophy next week,” said Iron Eyes.