Prep Sports Showcase
The lifelong dream of two Rocky Boy kids came true four years ago when they played in their first varsity games as freshmen.
Now the dream for seniors Mike Morsette and Clayton Houle is about to end. The Stars' regular season comes to a close this weekend.
"Ever since we first started (playing basketball), it was always our dream to play varsity to be a Star," Houle said.
Sharing the goal of playing varsity basketball, Houle and Morsette said they are more like family than teammates.
"We've been kind of like brothers pretty much since we were little. We'd always come visit each other every day" to play basketball, said Houle, who plans to attend Montana State University-Billings in the fall, majoring in psychology.
"It's hard to think about what's after this," he added.
The thought of a disappointing senior season makes parting ways even more difficult.
"I thought we'd go undefeated this season because we have all sorts of talent. I think we're racked from top to bottom," Morsette said. "I didn't think we'd get beat, but we did more than once."
Rocky Boy has gone to the divisional tournament each of the last three seasons, last year taking the district 9C title. Six players on this year's squad have played on the previous divisional teams, giving the Stars a depth of experience.
And, with the exception of a few players, members of the Rocky Boy team have played basketball together since grade school, another advantage for the Stars come tournament time.
"We pretty much all know each other's styles and what each can do," Houle said.
"It helps because we know what they can do, what they are capable of doing," Morsette said of his teammates.
"We like to tease each other a lot. We like to have fun, like to play ball together, like to play ball a lot," he said.
Morsette has always had a passion for basketball a passion that started before grade school. He even installed a light outside his house to play basketball late into the night.
"It was pure love. I always played ball every chance I got," he said. "Rain or snow, whenever I got the chance, I played."
Growing up, Morsette always had competition close by. His older brother, Harvey, encouraged him. The brothers played together one season at Rocky Boy, when Harvey was a senior and Mike was a freshman.
"We played one-on-one ever since I can remember," Mike Morsette said. "We always played together."
In preparation for their final season, Morsette and Houle began working with their teammates early this summer. The team played together four to five hours each night "until we almost couldn't see," Houle said.
Rocky Boy's hard work paid off in summer tournaments.
The team knocked off defending state Class A champions Browning in overtime and nearly defeated CMR, the two-time defending state Class AA champions. The Stars also crushed Class B powerhouse Dutton-Brady twice, by nearly 30 points in each game.
And while their record doesn't show it, the Stars (9-7 overall, 7-5 in conference play) still feel they are the team to beat when the district tournament rolls around Feb. 20-23.
"We talk about being in the state tournament every day," Morsette said. "That's our drive. Winning state's our push. My goal is to win state. I have no choice but for that to be my goal. It's my last chance."