BILLINGS — Sure, the Wyoming All-Stars have been mired in a losing streak against their counterparts from Montana for nearly a decade in the annual all-star basketball series, but at least they’d been knocking on the door.
The past three games saw Wyoming lose by a combined nine points, including a 109-104 defeat Friday in Game 1 of this year’s matchup. But in short order Saturday, Montana put to rest any hopes Wyoming had for a breakthrough with a 110-71 Game 2 victory at the Lockwood High School gym.
Montana jumped out to a 21-3 advantage in the first quarter and didn’t relent. Its halftime lead was 31 points.
Montana has now won 18 in a row in the Midland Roundtable’s series dating to 2012, and increased its stranglehold on the all-time count to 63-27.
“Yesterday we kind of started out slow and today we needed to bring the energy and we started making our shots right off the bat,” said Great Falls High’s Levi Torgerson, who scored 10 points. “Everyone was scoring well. It was just a good team win.”
Five Montana players reached double figures, led by Billings Skyview’s Ky Kouba, who had a game-high 23. Missoula Sentinel’s Alex Germer scored 19, and averaged 22 in the two games. Malachi Stewart of Billings Central also had 19.
Germer’s Sentinel teammate, Tony Frohlich-Fair, scored 18 points a night after hitting for 23.
When Torgerson says his team was hitting shots, the proof is in the numbers: Montana buried 17 3-pointers. Kouba had six of those while Stewart made five.
On Friday at the Bruce Hoffman Golden Dome in Sheridan, Wyoming’s Sam Lecholat had a chance at a tying 3 in the final seconds but the shot rimmed out. Sheridan High’s Lecholat, who like Germer is a Montana State signee, was bottled up for much of the second game and was held without a field goal in the first half.
The same can be said for Gillette Campbell County’s Luke Hladky. The 5-foot-7 guard hit five 3-pointers on Friday but just one on Saturday. As a team, Wyoming made only six 3s.
“From the tip they were face-guarding me and didn’t ever really leave my hip,” said Hladky, who finished with seven points. “I could have done more, maybe screened more or tried to get myself open better. I just didn’t get much going for myself.”
“It was tough,” he said. “Sometimes you’re flat out there, and we were pretty flat tonight. When you can’t get anything going it’s hard to get rolling. They had a lot of momentum throughout the game and we never really had much of a chance.”
Lander Valley’s Bryan St. Clair led the Wyoming team with 16 points, nine of which he scored in the fourth quarter. Rudy Sanford of Worland scored 11 of his 13 points in the fourth.
Worland’s Mack Page had 12 for Wyoming. Lecholat managed only a pair of second-half field goals and ended with seven points.
After the game, Montana’s players took pride in the continuation of the state’s dominance in the series against its southern neighbors.
“It wasn’t in the back of our minds, although we always were told to not be the ones to lose the streak,” said Torgerson, who will play college basketball in the Frontier Conference at Montana Tech.
“We knew we had to come out tonight and make it 18. I just hope future teams follow this lead and we go to 20 and 22 and keep it going, and show what Montana basketball is like. I think we did that tonight.”
NOTES: Before the game, Montana All-Star and Great Falls High graduate Drew Wyman was named the state’s Mr. Basketball award winner. … For the second consecutive night, 6-foot-5 Caden Handran of Scobey did not play for the Montana team due to an injury.