BILLINGS – When the clock strikes midnight on Jan. 1, hope springs eternal. On the high school basketball court, perhaps no team is more excited for what the new year might hold than the Billings West Golden Bears.
The West boys finished last season strong, despite missing out on the Class AA state tournament. They ended the campaign with wins against the top three teams in the class and that gave them momentum heading into this season. The team has made one promise: They won’t be missing the dance this time around.
West is off to a .500 start, 2-2 on the young season, but one of those losses came at Class AA favorite Missoula Hellgate. This team will look to run and no one can do that better than point guard Jesse Owens. The Bears also have more balance than they have in the past. That, combined with a team stacked of experience, gives West plenty of reasons to think 2019 will be a good year.
“We have a lot of talent and a lot of chemistry, and I think that it has all the makings to be a real good year,” said West small forward Peyton Streiff.
They also have championship momentum on their side. The Billings West football team won the state title back in November and eight of those players are now looking to help the basketball team do the same.
“Our football team won a state championship, so there’s a lot of momentum going on right now and winning helps winning. It breeds winning,” said West coach Kelly Darragh. “Any time you can win like that, it’s going to carry over. I think out of our varsity kids, eight of them played on that state championship football team, so that’s going to do nothing but help us.”
“It’s a pretty quick transition coming off football, coming off a state championship,” said West power forward Kobe Nelson. “Hopefully it brings a lot of momentum for us. … Got a lot of good seniors coming, got a good senior group.”
West has a great chance to make a statement right out of the holiday break. The Golden Bears host Bozeman on Thursday and then have a crosstown affair with Billings Senior on Friday night. Both of those games are scheduled for 7 p.m.