When the Montana Tech women’s basketball team comes to the PE Center to play on December 28, it won’t be to reignite a fiery rivalry with Carroll College.
The Orediggers are getting in a game against the University of Calgary, who the Saints have booked for a few days.
For Helena natives and current Orediggers Hailey Crawford and Tjaden Pallister, it’s a chance to play again in their home town and have the crowd in the PE Center, likely, fully in support.
“I think it will be really fun,” Crawford said. “It will be a good game to get in the swing of things right before the holidays. It will be cool because there will friends and family on hand.”
Crawford is in her freshman year and getting a little playing time. She relishes the practice and tutelage she receives from the upperclassman.
“I think I’ve improved my game a lot from playing with my team and learning how to pick up the new speed and stuff like that,” she said.
The business management major is excited and feels a little bit of pressure coming back to Helena to perform in front of family and friends.
“Kinda just prove yourself to your home town and where you started from,” she said. “It’s cool to play for the people who supported you from such a young age.”
Crawford said she’ll try to get to Helena High and see her old stomping grounds.
Pallister’s seen the court this season for the Orediggers a season after redshirting.
It’s nice to get back on the floor and start playing the game again,” she said.
Pallister’s a little more adjusted to college hoops and has embraced the community in Butte.
“It kind of almost feels like home,” she said.
Pallister, a Capital High alum, knows coming into the PE Center will bring mixed emotions. She’ll be excited to play in front of her supporters, but realizes that stepping foot in the PE Center usually signals a heated contest against Carroll College.
“It’s going to be a little different,” she said, “It will be good to get back in a gym. I’m excited to be back in front of the Helena crowd. I miss playing there.”
Pallister and Crawford both chose Tech citing a strong connection to coach Carly Sanon and the other Orediggers.
In Pallister’s case, she met Sanon while at Carroll College. Pallister was a ball girl at Carroll College during the years Sanon assisted the Saints.
“It was kind of nice to have somebody in the program that I knew,” Pallister said.
Crawford plays about 14 minutes a night and Pallister gets about five. As they continue to grow into roles with the Orediggers, they’ll embrace each minute on the court they receive.
Both are excited Montana Tech opted to get games in before conference play resumes on Jan. 4. The Orediggers last game prior to their visit in Helena was against Lewis-Clark State College on Dec. 2.
Without the Helena trip and an ensuing game against the University of Lethbridge, the Orediggers would have gone a month without a game.
Instead, the Orediggers are coming to Helena. And the Orediggers’ Helenans get an early homecoming.