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The consistently big-scoring explosion in Montana high school boys basketball has come from the smaller schools this season.

Across Class B, from Damon Gros Ventre and two-time defending champion Lodge Grass to Lame Deer star Journey Emerson to upstart St. Ignatius and the diminutive Zoran LaFrombois, when basketball is being played at least one of them is posting a huge number.

More often than not, it’s more.

“It’s just a unique group of kids,” Lame Deer coach Tiger Scalpcane said. “And we’re probably not going to see it again for a while.”

The style of play across most of Class B also helps to fuel these scorers’ talents.

“Everybody in Class B likes to get the ball up and down the court,” St. Ignatius coach Stuart Grant said. “We’re kind of known for playing basketball in that way historically, back to the 1980s.”

Each of the three is different in how they find their points. But each finds them virtually every night for Top 10 teams that seem to be on collision courses to be decided at the state tournament now that the playoffs are approaching.

For one, the trio ranges in size from 6-foot-4 (Gros Ventre) to 5-foot-7 (LaFrombois). Emerson sits in the middle at 5-11. What they have in common, though, is a work ethic that drives them into the gym whenever possible.

“All the time,” Scalpcane said of Emerson, who has lived with his coach ever since Scalpcane’s son – and Emerson’s best friend – Keeshawn took his own life in 2019. “He’s always working on new moves. He’s putting up 1,000 shots a day, hitting the weight room. He just prefers it.”

Emerson wears No. 40 these days, in memory of his friend who also wore that number. And five times this season, the Lame Deer senior has scored 40 points or more, always significant for his teammates and coach.

“He’s just been on a tear,” Scalpcane said. “When he first hit 40, it was in a gym where my son used to love to play, at Red Lodge.”

That 40-point effort was just the start, however. The first week of February brought a remarkable run of days in Class B.

Already, Emerson had provided a preview less than three weeks into the season when he scored a Montana state Top 5 all-time 61 points on Dec. 21.

Then, on Feb. 1, Gros Ventre upped the ante. The leader for No. 1 Lodge Grass went out and scored a Montana state single-game record 71 points in an easy victory. One day later, Lodge Grass and Lame Deer met for the first time this season.

“He and I had a conversation almost the entire game,” Emerson said. “It was unbelievable. I told him that night, ‘I still can’t believe you dropped 71.’ It was a fun game.”

Lodge Grass held off Lame Deer that night, 74-70. Gross Ventre scored another 20 points, pushing him over 2,000 for his high school career and extending his school career scoring record that he’d broken during his 71-point effort the previous evening.

Gros Ventre eclipsed the old record of 1,948 points set in 1990 by Elvis Old Bull, who was Gros Ventre’s great uncle.

“It’s feels good. I always dreamed about winning championships when I was younger, but having my name in that same conversation as him, it hasn’t hit me yet,” Gros Ventre said to 406Sports that night. “Passing Elvis, it means a lot. I just can’t believe it.”

It was only the beginning for the week. Emerson scored 35 that next night in the big contest against Lodge Grass.

Then three days later, Emerson concluded the week by setting the state scoring standard even higher. Emerson exploded for 51 points in the first half against Forsyth on Feb. 5, and finished with 82 points.

“I have no clue,” Emerson said. “I wasn’t even planning on doing that much.”

The performance drew a lot of attention, both amazed and a little critical of Scalpcane for leaving Emerson in the game.

“When we found out he had 51 at half, at that point he’s only 20 points away,” Scalpcane said. “Why shouldn’t I let him have it? You work so hard for something, then hold him back?

“We started all our seniors that night, and we were only up eight after the first quarter. When he’s on fire, he doesn’t miss. He’s a little like Steph Curry.”

Both guys again scored in the high 20s the very next Tuesday, when Lodge Grass and Lame Deer played for the second time in a week. Emerson and Lame Deer handed the top-ranked Indians (15-1) their first loss of the season, ending an overall 20-game win streak.

LaFrombois saw it all, and just has to wait until state to get his shot at either or both Emerson and Gros Ventre. St. Ignatius plays in a different district.

“When I saw Gros Ventre go for 71, holy cow,” LaFrombois said. “He just got it done.”