GREAT FALLS — Since 2012, the Montana boys haven’t lost a game to Wyoming in the annual Montana-Wyoming all-star basketball games and for the coach of the boys all-star team, Steve Keller, it’s a stat line he very much takes pride in.
“We tell our guys all the time, we don’t want to be the one to break the streak and it’s been pretty amazing because we’ve had close games almost every single year,” Keller said.
Keller, who is the head coach of the University of Providence men's team, has the winning streak up to 18 games in his nine years coaching the team. The all-star games have also become a family affair.
On the girls side, they’re coached by Steve’s son Wes, who led the Rocky Mountain College women to the round of eight in the NAIA national tournament, earning him WBCA NAIA National Coach of the Year. Although Wes’ coaching record this past season trumps his father’s, Steve has asserted his fatherly dominance in the win column in the Montana-Wyoming games, with the girls having suffered one loss under Wes.
“I’m very proud of him and it’s very cool that we get to coach the all star teams together and you know we’re competitive amongst ourselves so I believe he’s lost one game so that competition exists as well,” Steve said.
At the end of the day though, the two are coaching with each other not against one another.
“I’ll, a lot times, help him at halftime or I’ll ask him at halftime what he thinks I should be doing so we have a good relationship that way.”
This year’s group under Steve Keller features a star-studded roster headlined by Helena Capital’s Brayden Koch, a Carroll College commit, to go along with many other college-bound players.
“Getting them to play together is huge. Obviously, they are the best players on their team and they’re averaging 15-20 points per game so they all can’t have that role when we get into an all star situation,”
Despite one of the two games falling on this year’s Montana East-West Shrine game in Great Falls, Keller expects a big crowd and lots of support, something the state hasn’t fallen short on in the past, with gyms packed nearing 3,000-plus people.
Both teams start in Sheridan, Wyoming on Friday, June 17 with the girls playing at 5:30 p.m. with the boys following at 7:30 p.m. They follow it up with the second game on Saturday in Lockwood at the same time.