GREAT FALLS — There was an uneasy feeling for the Malta basketball teams to end the 2022-2023 season.
The girls had a heartbreaking loss in the Class B state semifinals, losing to Big Timber on a last second shot. The boys made it to the state title game but fell to Missoula Loyola as the Rams captured their first-ever championship.
“It was tough,” said Malta girls head coach Nate Hammond. “Our program is always wanting to be there and to be in that spot, and it was something we probably didn’t really bounce back from very well. Through the years you have some great nights and you have some real rough nights and that was one of the rough ones.”
“The feeling when the buzzer rang was so defeating,” said sophomore forward Denvyr Tuss.
The losses these programs faced in March were hurtful in those moments but have come back to serve a better purpose as they get ready to make another run this season.
“The experience. They’ve been in the big game and they’ve won a couple of divisional championships. I think this group of juniors are 3-3 at state tournaments and just playing in that Saturday night game is just such an experience,” said boys head coach David Costin.
The boys returned two of their top scorers and the girls brought back seven of their players. With the returning experience and the extra fire underneath them, both programs have no doubt that they will be back in those same positions by the end of this season.
“I think we’re able to get back where we want to be, in that state championship,” said junior guard Bohdi Brenden. “We have good pieces and a really good coach who has had good programs for a lot of years and I feel confident in him getting us back to that spot.”
“I have pretty good expectations for us being in the mix to be in the top of the division,” said Hammond.