HAMILTON – Last weekend in Bozeman the Hamilton boys basketball team suffered their first and only loss of the season, but rebounded to finish third in the State A tournament.
Hamilton entered the tournament with an unblemished 23-0 record, but got blown out in the opening round by eventual runner-up Billings Central.
“Thursday was really tough — it hurt bad,” head coach Travis Blome said of the deflating loss to the Rams. “(Third place) doesn’t take away all the hurt, but it does feel good. Just how hard it is to come back through the loser’s bracket, especially when we had such high hopes, just shows how tough these kids are, where we’ve come, and I’m really proud of them.”
Hamilton finished the year with that lone loss to Bilings Central, leaving the Broncs with a familiar feeling. The sour taste in their mouths reminded them of the Class A football state title game where Hamilton fell to Columbia Falls for the second time on the season. The Wilcats were the only team to defeat the high-powered Broncs on the turf.
Blome took over the reigns in Hamilton four years ago, seeing the senior class that has had so much success in recent years blossom right in front of his eyes.
“I’m just proud,” Blome said of the seniors. “Showing that mental toughness (at the state tournament) is just a testament to how far they’ve come in four years.”
Bridger Bauder and Tyler Chouinard are the lone seniors to play both sports. Bauder was recognized as an all-state running back, while Choiunard garnered all-state honors as a receiver. On the hardwood, senior Carter Kearns earned all-state honors.
Kearns, Bauder and Chouinard leave Hamilton in good hands. Juniors Hunter Omlid and Tanner Goligoski received all-state honors for their play on the court this season, while fellow junior Cam Rothie was named to the second-team all-conference. Rothie was also named an all-state corner, and junior Carson Rostad was named all-state quarterback for the Broncs during the fall.
“This is my fourth year, (the seniors) were all freshmen when I came in. I was the head football coach for three years previous. To see them in the state title game, come up a little short, then a little bit short (at the state basketball tournament), it’s tough, but they’ve really built the two programs. They should be really proud of what they have done, and the program is in better shape because of them.”