BILLINGS – For the seventh straight season, the Montana All-Stars swept Wyoming in the Midland Roundtable Basketball All-Star Series, winning 95-80 on Saturday night at the Fortin Center at Rocky Mountain College.
Billings Senior’s Connor Kieckbusch, Hardin's David Evans and Belgrade’s Dawson Fowler each led Montana with 14 points and Anaconda’s Trent Mikalatos added 13. Great Falls CMR’s Garrison Rothwell also tallied 12.
“It was a lot of fun. It was really different getting to play with some of the better players around the state and some that I haven’t really played against since traveling basketball,” Rothwell said. “Yesterday I feel like I was just getting back into it. I hadn’t played in a long time and today I remembered how you have to start off fast and work as hard as you can right away.”
Fowler kickstarted things right away for Montana, scoring seven of the team’s first nine points. Mikalatos also came alive in the second quarter, knocking down three 3-pointers en route to getting 11 of his points in that frame while Rothwell scored nine of his points in the first half. Kieckbusch also tallied eight of his.
“I think it was just a confidence thing,” Kieckbusch, who will play college ball at Montana Tech, said about scoring. “Yesterday, I was getting to the hole and backing away from contact. Today, I think I was a little more confident in going to the rack and finishing strong.”
Gatorade Player of the Year Sam Beighle of Missoula Sentinel helped keep Montana’s pace going in the third, scoring seven of his nine points. He pointed out how nice it was to suit up with kids he’s used to figuring out how to stop.
“Usually I’m like, ‘Get out on that shooter. Don’t let him dunk on you,’” Beighle, who will play basketball at Carroll College, said. “And now you’re like, ‘I’m going to throw you an oop, or I’m going to find you in the corner.’ You flip mindsets. You already know what they’re good at because you’ve been scouting them and that kind of thing.”
The fourth quarter belonged to Evans. Creating hustle plays left and right, including two huge blocks earlier in the game, Evans had back-to-back made baskets with fouls to kick-start Montana as Wyoming was chipping away and getting within single digits. Evans' infectious energy had the crowd on its feet and his teammates were yelling and celebrating with the big man as the momentum appeared to swing back to Montana.
“I was just playing ball. It just came to my side and, yeah,” Evans said with a big laugh. “It was real fun getting to know these guys. It was a pleasure to play with all of these all-stars and I really liked it, it was a fun experience.”
Sam Vining added seven points in the final frame and Montana Griz commit Mack Anderson added nine, including three dunks, one of which came off a lob from Kieckbusch. Shelby’s T.J. Reynolds added three points. Montana is now 14-0 under Providence coach Steve Keller in the series and now leads the all-time series 59-27.