GREAT FALLS – There are few things more gut-wrenching than falling to your rival, much less falling to your rival in the state tournament. That’s exactly what happened to the Great Falls High boys basketball team last year, as CMR defeated the Bison in the state semifinals.
Great Falls High ultimately finished third last year, but playmakers like Blake Thelen, Kyle Torgerson and Riley Callery return to lead a steady attack to try and go even further this time around.
“I think we’re going to have pretty evened out scoring as a team. Obviously Blake and Kyle are cold-blooded — they’re always going to get their buckets,” said Callery, a senior.
“I think it will be pretty similar. We lost some pretty good players, but again we have some kids coming up that played (junior varsity), played on the sophomore team that will compete really well,” said head coach Bob Howard. “We’ll shoot a lot of 3s and try to get up and down the floor a little bit. We’ll have some balanced scoring and so on, pretty unselfish. It depends: If we hit the shots we’ll be pretty tough and if we don’t, we’ll have to get to work.”
With a good mix of shooting talent to fill out the roster, Great Falls High believes that once again it can be one of the top teams in Class AA. If that proves to be true, maybe this time the Bison won’t fall at the doorstep of state.
“Being competitive in every game, we want to be in the game in the fourth quarter. We feel we have a chance to compete with everybody in the state,” said Howard. “We’ve had a pretty good summer, but having a chance to compete and actually competing are two different things. The big goal is to get to state. You can’t win it if you don’t get there.”
“We’re definitely going to be a shooting team, all of us can shoot. We’ll be more aggressive and fast-paced,” said senior Cash Abbott.
But March is a long way off, and the Bison know they can’t get too far ahead of themselves.
“I think we just need to not overlook anyone, just stay motivated throughout the whole season and practice, take every practice serious and every team serious,” said Callery.
The Bison will host Kalispell Flathead to begin the season on Dec. 7.