(MSUB Athletics release)
BILLINGS – Introducing his first three recruits for the 2019-20 academic year on Monday, Montana State University Billings women’s basketball head coach Kevin Woodin announced the signing of three local players.
Shayla Montague, daughter of MSUB athletic director Krista Montague, will be joined by Billings West High School teammate TyRaa Manuel and Kali Gulick of Kalispell as the newest three Yellowjackets for next school year. “I am very excited to have three quality student-athletes join our program in the early signing period,” said Woodin. “Each of them is a tremendous person and has an impressive skill set. I believe they will all help us right away when they join our program in the fall of 2019.”
Montague is wrapping up a four-year varsity career with the Bears, where she was a first-team all-state selection during her junior season in 2017-18. As a junior, Montague shot 48 percent from 3-point range, with 40 total makes as well as a personal best six in one game against Skyview.
“Shayla is one of the purest shooters I have ever recruited,” said Woodin. “She has the ability to score from all over the court and has improved so much while at Billings West. Her versatility will be key for us as she will play multiple positions. I have known Shayla for years and she is a quality individual who always puts her team first. I am confident she will be a great player in our women’s basketball program.”
Showing steady progression over the course of her career, the 5-foot-11 shooting guard was named Most Improved as a freshman in 2015-16, honorable mention all-conference in 2016-17, and first-team all-league a season ago. “I chose MSUB because it’s the perfect fit for me,” Montague said. “I grew up following MSUB and have spent a lot of time in the gym there. They have a great program and I like Coach Woodin’s style and philosophy. I plan to study business, and know MSUB has a really good business school as well. I want to thank Coach Woodin and Coach Breen for the opportunity, and I can’t wait to become a Yellowjacket.”
Both of Montague’s parents competed for the Yellowjackets and are in the MSUB Hall of Fame and Distinction. Krista’s 1998-99 team became the first in school history to reach the NCAA Division II Elite Eight, and the squad is still tied for the school record for wins in a season with 25. Brent Montague played for two seasons from 1994-96 at MSUB and made 78 threes in his final year with the ‘Jackets.
Montague and Manuel will remain teammates at MSUB, with the latter also finishing up her four-year career with the Bears this season. Manuel, a 5-foot-9 guard/forward, is an academic award winner as well as an honorable mention all-state pick. “TyRaa’s intensity and versatility impressed me right away when I recruited her,” Woodin said. “Her work ethic impressed me as well, and I look forward to having her join our program. Both TyRaa and Shayla come from a very successful high school girls program, and it is great to have them both stay in Billings to play college basketball.”
Her personal bests include 18 points in a game, and she has been among the league’s statistical leaders in rebounds, assists, field-goal percentage, 3-point field-goal percentage, and free-throw percentage. “I chose MSUB because Coach Woodin and former player Janiel Olson truly made the school so welcoming,” Manuel said. “For my major, health and human performance, I think that MSUB fits best. The current players are welcoming and made it feel as if I’ve known them forever. MSUB truly just felt like my perfect match.”
Adding size to next year’s lineup will be the 6-foot-2 Gulick, who is a three-sport athlete at Glacier High School. She is finishing a four-year varsity career on the hardwood, where she was an all-conference selection a season ago. She also received the Wolfpack Award in basketball, while leading her team in blocks as a junior. “Kali impressed me a lot last summer,” said Woodin. “She has an excellent shot and I think she can be an effective post player both with her back to the basket and when facing the hoop. Kalli is very athletic for her size, and fits nicely into our style of play. She represents the type of player and person we want at MSUB. I am very excited to work with her next fall.”
Gulick also won four letters in volleyball, and will earn her third letter in softball for GHS next spring. A two-time all-state selection in volleyball, she broke her school’s career blocks record this fall. Academically, Gulick is a four-time academic all-state selection who plans to major in physical therapy at MSUB.
“I chose MSUB because it felt like home,” Gulick said. “The people there are kind and the campus is the perfect size. The coaches are great, and everyone I talked to has loved their experience there.”
MSUB’s women’s basketball team (2-1) is next in action this weekend at the 2018 Yellowjacket Classic sponsored by the Billings Hotel & Convention Center. The ‘Jackets play Valley City State University on Friday at 2 p.m. and Carroll College in an exhibition game on Sunday at 2 p.m.