HELENA — Carroll College's PE Center is hosting the 2022 Western AA basketball tournament, giving Helena basketball fans a lot forward to in the coming days.
Helena Capital senior guard Brayden Koch announced his commitment to Carroll in late August 2021 and will now have a chance to shine in the P.E. Center before he even puts on a Saints uniform.
This will be Koch’s first game in the P.E. Center since middle school. Koch says he’s looking forward to tipping off in the same place he plans on ending his basketball career. He’s got high hopes coming into the tournament stating that his expectation is to “just get that number one divisional championship”.
But between Thursday’s first-round tip-off and the championship, there’s a possibility for a third Helena crosstown match-up. If both Helena High and Helena Capital beat their first-round opponents, Kalispell Flathead and Kalispell Glacier, respectively, they will compete in the second round.
Koch is hoping that this possibility becomes reality.
“Oh yeah, I want that to happen. I’m friends with all those guys over there and I’ve known them since like, second grade. Those are my buddies.”
Koch noted he's also hoping that playing in the gym at the P.E. Center in the divisional tournament will give him a glimpse of his future.
“I’m thinking it will give me the steps, and kind of guide me to where I want to be,” he said.
Though he’s excited for his future as a Fighting Saint, he admits there is some pressure of being a hometown athlete.
“I feel like it adds more pressure because everybody knows me, they’ll come to the games to support me. Just having that fan base gives me a little bit of nervous tension, but it’ll be fun.”
The Western AA Divisional tournament tips off Thursday at 9:30 a.m. with the Helena Capital and Kalispell Flathead boys leading the slate of eight games in the tournament's opening round.