Montana State University-Northern junior guard Kylee Denham has played a lot of basketball on the Hi-Line. Denham is a former three-time Class B All-State selection, and helped the M-Ettes to the 2007 Class B state girls championship.
She also knew what it was like to play basketball in Havre long before she stepped foot on the MSU-N campus in the fall of 2010. Denham’s M-Ettes have a long-standing rivalry with the Havre Blue Ponies, and she says the Havre community is what helped bring her back to the area to continue her basketball career.
The 5-8 Denham started her career at Montana State-Billings but decided to join former M-Ette teammate Laramie Schwenke in Havre last fall. And she hasn’t looked back. After a sophomore season coming off the bench, Denham has moved into a key starting role for the 10-1 Skylights, and she’s averaging a solid eight points and two assists per game. Her defensive contributions and her 3-point shooting ability have also been key as her minutes have gone way up, and as her time in a Skylight uniform has gone on, it’s like old times for the former Hi-Line high school great.
Here’s five questions with guard Kylee Denham as she prepares to help the Skylights during this weekend’s Duck Inn Classic in Havre.
HDN: The Skylights are off to a tremendous start this season. Describe what that’s been like?
Denham: “It’s been really interesting. We started the year with so many injuries. Laci (Keller) got hurt, Laramie (Schwenke) had to have surgery on her knee and I got a concussion. So while I don’t want to say it’s a surprise that we’ve been this successful, it’s been awesome. We’re just playing really well together as a team and the wins have kept coming our way.”
HDN: What were the factors that brought you from Billings to MSU-N?
Denham: “First, MSU-B is a great program and it was nothing against them. I just missed that small-town, hometown atmosphere. And that’s why Havre is just such a great fit for me. It’s what I’m used to. I love going out in the community and people I don’t even know are congratulating me on a game or things like that. Havre is a great community and the support we get here is amazing. I just love it in Havre and I really missed that.”
HDN: You’re in a starting role now. What’s been the biggest improvements to your game?
Denham: "Ball handling was a big one for me. I knew as I played more minutes, I was going to have to be better at bringing the ball up the floor. So that and 3-point shooting were big focal points for me and I tried to work really hard on those last summer. I think confidence is a big one too. I have a lot more confidence in myself this season, and my teammates have been big with that. They’ve helped me be a much more confident player.”
HDN: Malta is one of the best girls basketball programs in all of Montana. What’s kept it going all these years?
Denham: "Tradition is the biggest thing. They were already a good program when I was little and it just continues to get passed on through the age groups. Hard work is another big thing. The parents really work hard, they take kids to tournaments and really put in a lot of time. And the kids work hard too. The whole town is just really behind that program and very proud of the team.”
HDN: What does the rest of this season hold for you and the Skylights?
Denham: “We’re just taking this season one game at a time. Right now, we’re focused on getting through the rest of the nonconference season without losing any more games. Then, we’ll take the conference season one game at a time. But I think people are going to be surprised by us. We’re just playing really well together, our team chemistry has been awesome and it’s allowed us to do the things we’ve done so far. I can see a lot of wins for the Skylights in the future.”