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Gallatin boys basketball reflects on first state title in program history

Troy Hugs and Jack Repscher
Posted at 1:11 PM, Mar 29, 2024

BOZEMAN — Bozeman Gallatin defeated Missoula Sentinel 62-45 in the Class AA boys basketball state championship game on March 9 in Missoula to earn the first title in program history.

“Is this really happening?" Gallatin coach Michael Claxton said of what went through his mind when the final buzzer sounded in the title game. "This is really surreal. Am I dreaming?

"For me, I just tried to soak up everything in the moment and spend that time with the guys on the floor before we went our separate directions."

Claxton has been at the helm of the Raptors program since the beginning, when the school opened its doors four years ago.

Gallatin junior guard Kale Fasting explained what the championship meant to him.

"It just felt great because that was the start of, 'Nobody else can beat us,'" he said. "No one can take that away. That’s the first ever, and we just hope that it will keep moving on through the years. But, we were the first ever."

The team is a part of Gallatin history, and can always say its name is a part of the first-ever state title.

"There’s some people that go to schools with a bunch of history and a bunch of championships, and they sometimes can add to it and sometimes can’t," Gallatin senior guard Jack Repscher explained. "In our program of four years, I’ve been here since the start, and bring something to show for the end of it."

When teams win in March, they catch fire at just the right time. For Gallatin, it was a mixture of momentum, confidence — and above all, togetherness.

The team had a word they stood this postseason that captured that mentality.

"We," Claxton said. "That we’re doing this together. It can’t be any individual awards, individual performances. You know, we led the state is assists, and we didn’t have any player in the top 20 in scoring in (Class) AA basketball this season."

"We knew who we had and what we had and what we could do as a team," Gallatin senior guard Troy Hugs said. "And we just needed everyone to buy in. As soon as we got everyone to buy in, it just showed that we were buying in and capable of anything."

The seniors brought an intense level of effort since Week 1, running extra sprints at the end of practice voluntarily because they didn’t think they had worked hard enough that day.

That extra effort is how championship teams are built.

"From the start of the season, we felt like we’ve got to set a tone," Repscher said. "We’ve got to show what we’re willing to do all season. And so, from the first practice, we were willing to run a little extra, and it paid off."