High School Sports


Wyoming boys finally snap skid, Montana girls roll in annual basketball series

Eli Quinn
Posted at 7:04 PM, Jun 14, 2024

GILLETTE, Wyo. — Streaks are made to be snapped, but the Wyoming All-Stars on Friday put an emphatic end to a long run of futility in their ongoing all-star basketball series with Montana.

The Treasure State team’s 22-game winning streak in the Midland Roundtable's annual grudge match came crashing down as Wyoming jumped out to a big second-quarter lead on the way to an 83-62 victory at the Pronghorn Center at Gillette College.

Emily McElmurry
Missoula Sentinel's Emily McElmurry drives with the ball during the Montana-Wyoming All-Star Basketball Series at the Pronghorn Center in Gillette, Wyo., on Friday, June 14, 2024.

The win was Wyoming’s first in the series in 13 years, and it handed hall of famer Steve Keller his first defeat in 23 tries as Montana’s all-star coach. Montana still leads the all-time border battle 67-28.

Montana’s girls, meanwhile, kept its streak alive earlier Friday with a 90-68 win over their Cowboy State counterparts. Led by a contingent of Class C stars, Montana won for the 14th straight time and increased its series lead to 40-13.

The series will resume Saturday at Lockwood High School in Billings. The girls game will tip off at 5 p.m. with the boys game to follow at 7.

Wyoming boys 83, Montana 62

Wyoming played like a team on a mission to snap what had been a difficult and exasperating losing skid.

"It’s a streak. All these guys came in from the very beginning of the week and they had good chemistry and they played together and they were loose," said Wyoming coach Shawn Neary, the head coach at Gillette College.

"They just had fun with it tonight. That was fun to see."

Montana led 28-21 early in the second quarter, but Wyoming gradually chipped away, pulling within 28-26 on a 3-pointer by Green River's Tharan Archibald.

That kickstarted an 11-0 run that put Wyoming ahead 37-28. Consecutive baskets by Gillette Thunder Basin's Bodie Williams, including a 3-pointer, highlighted the run. Wyoming took a 44-33 lead into halftime.

The advantage grew to 19 points in the third quarter as Montana struggled to score. A steal and basket by Jackson's Andrew Hanna and a deep 3 by Cheyenne Central's Sammy Shumway had Wyoming up 52-33 and in full command with 5:05 left in the quarter.

Montana didn't score its first points in the third until a three-point play by Billings West's Cooper Tyson on the ensuing possession following Shumway's long trey.

From there, the deficit was too much for the Treasure State team to make up and Wyoming, guided Neary, prevailed for the first time since a 90-84 overtime victory on June 10, 2011.

Kellen Harrison
Bozeman High's Kellen Harrison goes for a layup during the Montana-Wyoming All-Star Basketball Series at the Pronghorn Center in Gillette, Wyo., on Friday, June 14, 2024.

"That was a good basketball team," Keller said of the Wyoming All-Stars. "They played together better as a team than we did, and their effort was unbelievable. They were on the floor and diving for loose balls. They’re going to be a handful to beat tomorrow.

"I think we got some guys that don’t like to lose and will step up tomorrow."

Wyoming put six players in double figures: Shumway and Cheyenne Central's Joe Sawyer each had 12, Williams scored 11 points, and Archibald, Douglas' Levi Curtis and Garrett Spielman of Sheridan High all had 10.

The 62 points were the fewest a Montana team has scored in the history of the series.

"They weren’t happy that their all-star coach was having them do shell drill and close-outs and ball screen defense, but they needed a little bit of it," Neary said. "And so just a great effort by the team today, though. Shared the ball pretty well and defended and we rebounded well.

"It’s one game, so I’m just glad for these guys that won and now we’re in Billings tomorrow and I’m sure they’ll be fired up ready to go and so we’ll have to see how we respond.

The Treasure State team was led by Browning's Maurice Red Horn, who had 12 points. Bozeman High's Kellen Harrison scored 11 and Mason Venema of Manhattan Christian added 10.

Montana girls 90, Wyoming 68

Another year, another victory for the Treasure State girls.

The Montanans broke it open late in the first half and ran away for a 22-point 90-68 win over Wyoming earlier Friday. Montana’s group of Class C talent — including Taylee Chirrick of Roberts, Teagan Erickson and Paige Wasson of Saco-Whitewater-Hinsdale — played a huge role in the win.

Chirrick had 16 points and nine rebounds, while Erickson led with 17 points. Both are bound for Montana State. Wasson chipped added 13 points. Also in double digits were Billings West's Kourtney Grossman, Frenchtown's Sadie Smith and Chinook's Halie Neibauer, each with 10 points.

Late in the first quarter, Chirrick converted a three-point play to give Montana a 22-17 advantage. In the second, an Erickson put-back and a Wasson 3-pointer helped make it 34-27.

Chirrick's coast-to-coast layup later in the quarter put the Treasure Staters ahead by double figures, 45-34. Montana scored 25 points in the second quarter and didn't look back.

"We talked about getting multiple stops; how many in a row can we get?" said Montana coach Wes Keller of Rocky Mountain College, who upped his series record to 16-1.

Kourtney Grossman
Billings West's Kourtney Grossman shoots during the Montana-Wyoming All-Star Series at the Pronghorn Center in Gillette, Wyo., on Friday, June 14, 2024.

"I think we got six in a row and that got us the lead, and in that second quarter we got five in a row and that helped build us to double digits heading into halftime."

Missoula Hellgate's Chloe Larsen had eight points, including a pair of second-quarter 3s. Isabelle Heggem of Class C Roy-Winifred added five points.

The Wyoming All-Stars, coached by Liz Lewis of Gillette College, were led by Sheridan High's Alli Ligocki with 16 points. Ligocki will play at Montana State Billings this coming season.

Cami Curtis of Gillette Campbell County added 13 points, hitting three 3-pointers. The Cowboy State stars hit eight total 3s.

Wyoming's last win in the girls series came on June 10, 2016, a 71-64 victory.