HAMILTON — Tanner Goligoski always felt comfortable shooting from long range on the basketball court, but the Hamilton graduate had always hoped to stay close to home if and when he pursued a college career.

Earlier this month, Goligoski made the decision to sign with the Rocky Mountain College basketball program in Billings, first reported by SWX Montana. Signing on with Rocky checked one of Goligoski's biggest boxes — staying in the same state that saw the Broncs hoopster develop into one of Montana's best 3-point shooters.

"It’ll be somewhat close to home — I’m about six hours from home, so not super close — but it’ll be somewhat close," Goligoski said, chuckling, before explaining why he opted for Rocky. "I really liked their coach, coach (Bill) Dreikosen. We had an instant connection. Their program has been really successful throughout the years and that’s something you want when you’re going to play college basketball, you want to be in a good program, a winning program and the town of Billings is a good location for me.

"I’m staying in Montana and I just liked everything about their program."

Goligoski had some help in his decision making, too. Tanner's dad, Jason Goligoski, played baseball at Washington State before being drafted to play baseball professionally. Tanner's sister, Taylor Goligoski, twice was named the Montana girls' basketball Gatorade Player of the Year before signing to play hoops at the University of Montana.

With his family's help, Tanner felt like he was able to make the best decision. It's also partially why he waited until the summer after his high school graduation to sign with a program — he wanted to be both cautious in his decision and confident.

"They all had good advice and helped me out with the whole process and my dad went on my visits with me and really helped me out there," Tanner said. "They just gave me a lot of great advice not just on athletics, but living and for school as well."

Tanner will be joining a Rocky program that has been successful, too, checking another one of Tanner's boxes. Under coach Dreikosen, the Battlin' Bears won the 2008-09 NAIA Division I National Championship and coach Dreikosen has tallied a 314-257 overall record. Last season Rocky finished third in the Frontier Conference with a 19-13 overall record.

In Goligoski, the Battlin' Bears are bringing in a proven winner as well.

For each of the four years Goligoski suited up for the Broncs basketball program, Hamilton qualified for the state tournament. In 2017-18, Goligoski's junior year, the Broncs went 26-1 overall en route to a third-place finish. Last season, Hamilton again went to the consolation final, though the Broncs lost in double overtime to Butte Central.

Goligoski pointed first to his team's success as making up the bulk of his favorite memories from his high school career.

"It was kind of cool because our group, my senior class, before our freshman year, Hamilton hadn’t been to state in 20-something years. It was pretty special what this group of seniors did," he said. "We accomplished a bunch of great things there and there’s some really special moments to take away from it."

One of those individual moments was an incredible shooting performance that saw Goligoski, then a junior, connect on 9 of 10 3-pointers in a Southwest A rivalry game against Corvallis back in December of 2017. Goligoski could always shoot, but the near-record game really put him on the map as an rare talent.

"I still have people come up and say they’ve never seen anything like that before, somebody getting that hot," he said, laughing.

What's crazy, is that Tanner was even better from 3-point range his senior season. 

Last year, Goligoski made more 3-pointers than anybody else and was second in Class A in long-range shooting percentage at 41.9 percent (mthighschoolstats.com). That was up from the still-impressive 39% clip he shot at from behind the arc in 2017-18.

Those scoring numbers helped Goligoski eclipse the 1,000 career points milestone last season. Hamilton coach Travis Blome had high praise for him then.

"...Tanner's probably one of the best shooters in the state," Blome said back in February before the state tournament.

Blome's opinion hasn't changed much on his now-graduated shooting star.

"He’s such a hard worker, loves the game of basketball, and he obviously has tremendous range shooting," Blome said. "He’s just someone that will put the time into to develop and try to work hard and be the best he can."

As one of Montana's best shots already, that can only mean good things for Goligoski and the Rocky Mountain College basketball program.

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