Former Kalispell star Scott Zanon (10) went on to have a standout career at Montana. (Photo courtesy University of Montana)

Much like the 1990s, which MTN Sports profiled last week in the #MTTop50, the 1980s produced a lot of boys basketball talent.

Bill Dreikosen might not have even been the best player on his high school team at Hinsdale, but he’s entering his 17th season as the head men’s basketball coach at Rocky Mountain College. Browning legend Gary CrossGuns almost assuredly would have had a college career if his life hadn’t ended too soon. Roger Fasting won two Class A state championships at Glendive before a solid career at Montana.

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Now, we add two more former 1980s stars to the #MTTop50. Scott Zanon and Gary Kane were stellar high school players at Kalispell and Butte, eventually suiting up for the Montana Grizzlies.

Scott Zanon stat sheet

More athlete than pure basketball player, Zanon was a fine point guard for Kalispell in the early 1980s. He has two of the top scoring seasons in Kalispell’s program history, as well as having the third-most assists in a single season. Standing right around 6-foot tall, Zanon is also in the Montana High School Association record books for clearing 6-10 in the high jump. He followed in his brothers’ footsteps to the University of Montana, where he was also a track and field standout and even played football after running out of basketball eligibility. He ranks third all-time in career assists at UM and has two of the top five single-season marks. He was a first-team all-conference selection for the 1986-87 season when he averaged 17.1 points per game. He’s currently 22nd in career points scored for the Grizzlies.

… on Zanon:

Former Helena Capital standout Mike McMahon: “From Scott’s standpoint, he could beat you off the dribble so quickly that we gave him his distance and just hoped to God he didn’t knock down that 15-footer. At that time, we didn’t have a 3-point line in high school. Controlling him was controlling him getting to the rim or dishing off to a teammate. He could do it all. When he got to the rim, there’s not many kids in those days that could dunk – or would dunk – and Scott was one of those kids that if he got the chance, he would throw it down. … I know when I played with him at the Griz camp, it was fun to play with Scott. He loved the game, he played the game the right way, offensively and defensively. Great character, you have to respect what he did on and off the court. He just loved playing the game, and he played it the right way.”

Gary Kane stat sheet

Kane paired with Todd Ericson to form an imposing duo at Butte High in the late 1980s. Kane and Ericson helped lead the Bulldogs to a 21-0 record into the Class AA state championship, where they were upset by Kalispell. That Butte team is frequently considered one of the best teams never to win a state championship. Kane won the 1989 Gatorade Player of the Year award and played in the Montana-Wyoming all-star series, scoring 23 and 16 points in the two games. He continued his playing career with the Grizzlies, setting the freshman single-game and season scoring records, which were later ecplised by Kevin Criswell. Kane led UM in free throws and 3-pointers made during the 1990-91 season, with his 68 3s made that year still ranking in the Grizzlies’ top 10 for 3s made in a single season. The final three years of his career were plagued by injuries, but he was still a four-year letter-winner and was voted the team’s most inspirational player in 1993-94.

… on Kane:

Former Missoula Hellgate coach Eric Hays: “He was a very difficult matchup. I think, if I remember correctly, he was about 6-(foot)-4 and he had very good guard skills. Back then, your guards were usually 6-foot, 6-1, so he was able to elevate and shoot the jump shot over guards. He could take them inside and post them up. He was a very difficult matchup. He was a good ball-handler. He was just what I call a very good high school scorer. … In high school, with his size, he would just rise up over people. Back then he could shoot the jump shot at the 3-point range, which was not that common in the late ‘80s, early ‘90s. Well, the 3-point shot had just come into existence. I think Montana started playing with it, if I remember correctly, in ‘86 or ‘87. And he would just rise up and he would shoot, and he was a very good shooter. Very, very good scorer.”

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