SHERIDAN, Wyo. — The Montana All-Stars walked away with a sweep of Friday night's games after the boys defeated the Wyoming All-Stars 93-78 in the first game of the Midland Roundtable Montana-Wyoming All-Star Basketball Series at the Bruce Hoffman Golden Dome at Sheridan College.
Two-time Gatorade Montana Player of the Year Brendan Howard from Great Falls led Montana in scoring with 18 points as five Montana players scored in double-digits. Kalispell Glacier's Jaxen Hashley scored 16 points, Malta's Nate Costin pumped in 11 and Billings Skyview's RayQuan Evans and Billings West's Braydon Deming each had 10.
"You represent Montana and you want to do what you can to win because it's kind of like bragging rights," Howard, an Eastern Washington commit, said. "You also have to take every game seriously and that's the mentality I go in with.
"It's an all-star game but at the same time I want to win. That's the main goal every time for me."
After racing to a quick first-quarter lead, Montana and Wyoming ended up tied heading into the second. Wyoming led briefly in the second quarter but Bozeman's Drew Huse knocked down a 3-pointer to put Montana up 35-33 and it never trailed again.
Howard and Evans both expressed how much fun it was to suit up with the other best players in the state.
"It's really nice because everyone can depend on each other," Howard said. "No one really has to force things and everyone's games kind of compliments each others so everyone kind of does what they need to do and we did pretty good tonight winning by 15."
Montana improves to an all-time record 56-27 against the Wyoming All-Stars with the win. The Treasure State has won the last 11 meetings between the two, improving Montana Western coach Steve Keller's record to a perfect 11-0 since he took over.
Eric Jamerman led all scorers with 21 points for Wyoming. University of Montana men's basketball commit Kelby Kramer, who is listed at 6-foot-11, had 14 points.
"It's really fun and a great opportunity to get out there and see the talent come together from Montana and Wyoming," Evans said. "It's going to be exciting playing Saturday. Playing with those group of guys, you never really get that opportunity so it's really fun."
The second game in the series will be played at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday at Rocky Mountain College in Billings.
Montana girls 69, Wyoming 68
The Montana girls All-Stars survived a late Wyoming comeback to beat the Wyoming All-Stars 69-68 on Friday night in the first game of the Midland Roundtable Montana-Wyoming All-Star Basketball Series.
Hannah Collins from Great Falls High led all scorers with 15 points. Riana Rogers of Bozeman scored 12 and Fairfield’s Natalie Klinker added nine to help lead the Montana All-Stars to the victory.
After leading comfortably throughout most of the game, Montana struggled to score in the final five minutes of the game, and held an eight-point lead with just over two minutes remaining in the game. Wyoming made a furious comeback with layups and forced turnovers, but Malta’s Sophia Stiles blocked the final shot attempt to seal the win for Montana.
“We just tried to stay composed and take care of the ball,” Collins said about the final minutes. “Really get down and get stops on the defensive end.”
Stiles’ block still gave Wyoming .9 seconds to get a shot off, but the Cowboy State was unable to do so.
Collins came out hot in the first half, scoring 10 of her points and blowing past defenders with ease.
“Coach (Wes Keller) just told me to be aggressive and try to get into the paint and try to get to the basket and make plays as clutch as possible,” she said. “It’s super fun (playing with this team). Everyone’s so talented and everyone shares the ball very well so it’s really fun to be out there with them.”
Kalina Smith led Wyoming in scoring with 13 while Lyndzi Rich had 12.
Kalispell Flathead’s Tiana Johnson added eight points for Montana, which improves to 28-13 in the all-time series.
“We talked about lock-down defense and executing on offense,” Klinker said about the end of the game. “We tried to keep the ball in our hands as much as we could but that didn’t work out.
“Honestly, I didn’t really feel nervous. I mean, I’ve been in quite a few intense games like Malta so by this time I’m kind of used to it. I like good games, honestly. I’d rather have a good game over a blowout any day.”
Klinker couldn’t be stopped on the glass as she helped her teammates out most on both the offensive and defensive boards.
“I like rebounding, it’s my favorite thing honestly,” she said. “So I do it when I can.”
The second game in the series will be in Billings at Rocky Mountain College on Saturday at 5:30 p.m.