BILLINGS--Earlier this week, MSU Billings lost its first game of the season to Black Hills state 60-51 at home.

Next week, the team will play four games in Alaska, and two against conference rivals Alaska and Alaska Anchorage. 

The team has found success on a roster filled with Montana players that, as it turns out, is nothing new for head coach Kevin Woodin and his program.

MSUB women's basketball coach Kevin Woodin thrives on recruiting and winning with Montana players. So much so that a few years ago the entire Yellowjacket roster was made up of in-state players. Which is impressive when you consider the team plays at the NCAA Division II level. The current roster lists eight players from the Treasure State. Three are starters and all come from small Class C programs. 
"We are proud of that, and part of that is I started as a high school basketball coach at West High and those relationships that began a long time ago have continued," MSUB head women's basketball coach Kevin Woodin said. "And back then I would put those Montana teams against any of those bordering states and it continues to prove out." 
We do know one constant, Ft. Benton's Aspen Giese, Scobey's Kortney Nelson and Dyauni Boyce out of Winifred all played multiple sports in high school. A fact not lost on these sophomore standouts who all agree staying busy in sports clearly helped make the transition to the college game, where all have found success. 
"I mean I did three sports, what most girls in Class C do, you got to do all sports," sophomore guard Aspen Giese said. "I think that really helps, I know how to do a sport for the full year, which is what you do in college basketball, we're going all year."
"As a small town, you're always playing sports," sophomore guard Kortney Nelson said. "Anything you're doing you're always in the gym working hard with everybody in the school, everyone is playing sports, so I think working hard and finding your way here."
Right now, the team is in Alaska where they will play four games in a week. Frequent flyer miles do add up for this team. But it does have its perks, including a recent trip to Hawaii while the rest of the us were home huddled up in an unexpected November cold snap.
"So fun going over there and seeing everybody else posting 'it's snowing' and 'it's so cold' and we're actually on the beach right now," Giese said. 
"It was so much fun being able to travel to Hawaii, it was a lot of fun, it's a fast turnaround now heading to Alaska," sophomore forward Dyauni Boyce said.
"We'll see how we adjust from 80 degrees and sun to -10 so about a 90-degree change in ten days," Woodin said. 
Three starters who combined account for nearly 30 points per game. The small-town roots of this trio are paying off in a big way and with the return of leading scorer Taryn Shelly expected when conference play begins in January, who knows just how far this team can go with a little bit of Montana pride. 
"Us three actually live together so that's kind of cool," Nelson said. "We all bond together really well, it's cool to see we are all mostly from Montana, but we are also all very different too, come from different places and it's cool to see how we can all connect and play basketball together."
"It's really cool we all played against each other, competed against each other, but now it's even more fun coming in and being able to play with each other rather than play against," Boyce said. "And living together has gone really well, so it's been really fun."
"I mean Dyauni and I were in the same division, Northern C, so I watched her dominate in high school and she watched me," Giese said. "So it's fun to come here and talk about our experiences because they're all very similar."
Just this week, Coach Woodin announced the signing of two players, and you guessed it, both are from Montana. West High's Layla Baumann and Bozeman's Avery Burhart, both headed to the Yellowjackets next year. 

Recommended for you