As the only Division I basketball recruit on Montana’s all-star roster, a lot of eyes will be on Glendive’s Bryden Boehning this weekend. And Boehning, a 6-foot-10 tower, has one expectation of himself.
“I just want to play hard,” Boehning said this week during preparations for the annual Montana-Wyoming All-Star Basketball Series. “Everyone here is a scorer — that’s why they’re here. But I want to play hard and show people that I can play D-I; that I’m good enough to play there.”
Boehning has signed to play at the University of Montana, and he’ll be in Missoula later this month to start summer classes and begin workouts. Boehning is the latest in a line of standout Dawson County High School players that have gone on to UM, including Roger Fasting in the 1980s and Derek Selvig a few years back.
Boehning averaged 16 points and 11 rebounds for the Red Devils during his senior season. He is among a handful of Montana big men preparing for duty in the trenches this weekend.
Boehning is already familiar with one teammate — 6-6 Oliver Carr of Bozeman. Boehning and Carr played together in tournaments in Las Vegas and Seattle last summer.
Boehning “has got great size,” said Steve Keller, Montana Western’s coach, and again the coach for the Treasure State stars. “He’s got a nice touch, his footwork’s not bad … it’s like last year when we had (Kalispell Glacier’s Ryan) Edwards, a 7-footer. You’ve got to use those guys.”
Boehning was recruited to the Grizzlies by Wayne Tinkle, who recently left Montana to become the head coach at Oregon State. Former Cal and Old Dominion assistant Travis DeCuire was hired to replace Tinkle.
Despite the change, Boehning’s not budging from his goals.
“I really liked (Tinkle) as a coach,” Boehning said, noting that he’s heard good things about DeCuire. “He still wants us to be successful, even though we’re not playing for him. He wants us to go up there and play well.”
Wyoming’s tall task
The average height of Wyoming’s roster measures less than 6-2. The team’s tallest player is 6-6 forward Alex Collier from Rawlins.
With Boehning lining up along the front line with Carr, 6-7 Christian Evans of Bigfork and 6-8 Carson Dummer of Helena Capital, the Wyoming All-Stars face a size dilemma.
Wyoming coach Steve Smiley, who is the head men’s coach at Sheridan College, said his team must utilize the perimeter and play an up-tempo game, and rely on shooters like Gillette’s Cody Kelley, Cheyenne’s Josh Fearing and Sheridan’s Reed Ritterbusch to get hot.
Kelley is a two-time Wyoming Gatorade player of the year award winner.
“Rebounding could be a challenge,” Smiley said. “Depending on how good they are in the post, we’ll probably have to pack it in a little bit defensively instead of getting out and pressuring so much.
“We’re going to have to outrun them and get up and down. I do think we have several guys that can really shoot the ball. Being able to utilize that and get guys in position to get shots will be an important thing for us for sure.”
Notes and quotes
• Montana owns a 49-27 all-time series lead over Wyoming, including two close victories last year. The Treasure State stars swept Wyoming in each of the past two years, and have won nine of the past 12 games dating back to 2008.
• Montana will be without Great Falls CMR guard Jayse McLean, who has an injured heel. McLean, who will join the baseball program at North Dakota State in the fall, was not replaced on the roster.
“He wanted to play; he was going to try to play,” Keller said. “But he’s got a big baseball scholarship and we just felt that the hard floor wouldn’t be good for him and we didn’t want to hurt him any more. He opted not to play. We’re going to miss him. He’s really good.”
• Smiley was forced to make adjustments to the Wyoming roster when Greybull’s Kason Clutter moved out of state and when Cody’s Brandon Hinze injured his back in a fall from a ladder.
Replacing them are 6-4 Judson White of Sheridan and 5-8 Braxten Fagenbush of Wheatland.