MISSOULA – It’s been a fun two weeks for Hamilton’s Hunter Omlid.
The senior for the Broncs recently signed a letter of intent to play baseball for the newly revamped baseball program at Boise State. He made his official commitment last week by putting pen to paper for the Broncos.
On Saturday afternoon, he played an integral role for his hometown Broncs by chipping in 16 points as Class A Hamilton opened the season with a 76-40 basketball victory at Class AA Missoula Big Sky.
“It means a lot to beat a AA school,” Omlid said. “We’re excited. We’re kind of a different team. We lost Carter Kearns, Bridger Bauder and Tyler Chouinard from last year. So we’re kind of rebuilding this year but we did well today against an AA school so I’m excited.”
The Broncs (1-0) had plenty to be excited about, playing a seamless game from beginning to end. Four players scored in double digits for Hamilton, led by fellow senior Tanner Goligoski, who scored 23 points and sank five 3-pointers. Senior Camron Rothie and junior Carson Rostad each added 13 points.
Leading 23-16 at the end of the first quarter, Hamilton began to blow the doors open in the second quarter, opening on a 9-2 run and finishing strong to lead 41-26 by half.
The Broncs ran away in the third quarter, outscoring Big Sky 16-4. The Eagles did not score until senior Gabe Bailey knocked down a free throw with 1:07 left in the third frame.
“I thought we played really unselfish tonight,” Hamilton coach Travis Blome said. “It was really fun to see them get up and down. We have a long ways to go but it’s just fun to get back out there.”
The unselfish play and ball movement were prevalent from the start. Omlid scored nine points in the opening quarter and didn’t score again until the third. Meanwhile, Rostad didn’t score in the first quarter but tallied nine of his points in the second. Goligoski dropped 17 of his points in the first and third.
Those scoring options are a key component for a Hamilton squad that went 26-1 a year ago and finished third at the State A basketball tournament in Bozeman. Though key players like Kearns, Bauder and Chouinard are gone, the Broncs return a good core of players from a year ago and are viewed as a contender for the Class A title.
Expectations are high, but Blome wants his players to take it one step at a time.
“We don’t talk about the end of (last) year too much,” Blome said. “We talk more about getting better every day and enjoying the process. We want to enjoy the journey. If all we look at the end of the year, we don’t get to have fun in between there and so real success comes from us working hard, playing together and getting better every day.”
“We’re really close. We just work together well and have good team chemistry,” Omlid added. “We know where everybody is going and doing.”
Big Sky is looking to improve after a rough campaign a year ago. The Eagles finished 0-21, but with a new head coach in Cory Sova, the program is hoping to turn things around. Junior Camdyn LaRance led the Eagles (0-1) with 17 points.
“We knew Hamilton was a really good ball team. They only had one loss last year and just a nice group of kids building off of their football success as well,” Sova said. “Our kids have done some great things this first part of the season. Not how we wanted the scoreboard to end today but overall I think we have things we can correct.”
Omlid’s first year at Boise State will be the first year the baseball program is back after folding in 1980. His future is decided and exciting, but basketball is the here and now and he’s looking forward to one final ride.
“It’s nice, I got a little weight off of my shoulders,” Omlid said of signing. “Now I can leave everything on the court for basketball this year.”