Just a hop, skip and a jump, the CMR Lady Rustlers will compete at the Class AA State tournament at the Four Seasons Arena in Great Falls.
"Literally across the street. We kind of started talking about wanting to play across the street, and that was our goal, and it is nice," said Rustlers head coach Brian Crosby.
"Its awesome especially since State is here so hopefully there will be a big crowd and a lot of support. That's what we're hoping for," said senior post Tristin Achenbach.
First matchup of the state tourney is against the Western division's number three seed, the Capital Lady Bruins. That very team defeated CMR twice, early in the regular season.
"At the very beginning of the year, Crosby said after we lost to them. We are going to see them at the state tournament. And here we are at the state tournament. We have to go into it with an open mind knowing that we can do it and that's all that really matters," said Achenbach.
The Rustlers say the Bruins have some tough posts and shooters they'll have to stop on the court.
"They run a lot of high low action and some screen away for shooters. Everyone knows what they're running, but they run it well. It's kind of you can know what they are going to run but how can you stop it. That's the biggest thing for us," said Crosby.
CMR says the team has seen some changes since last meeting up with Capital.
"I think our defense has really improved since the last time we played them and has really improved throughout the season," said senior guard Mady Skawinksi.
"When we're locked in defensively, we're pretty good," said Crosby.
Besides the fundamentals, the Rustlers plan to step on the court with same mindset they've had all year long.
"Crosby has been saying all season. We just need to believe and he's been saying that since game one. And it keeps coming up. And coming into state all we have to do is believe and hopefully it will come out," said Achenbach.
The goal for the Rustlers is to hang another state title, next to the program's last one captured in 1986.
The Capital Lady Bruins earned a spot in the Class AA State basketball tournament when the team knocked off Missoula Hellgate in a state play-in game last week. Capital is 2-0 against CMR. The Lady Bruins say they're bringing a relaxed and composed mindset into Thursday's matchup.
We just gotta play three great games. Three games in a row. Everyone is 0-0. We have to be efficient. We have to play good defense, do the little things, and go out there and lay it on the line," said head coach Bill Pilegram.
"I'm so excited to go there with my team. It's going to be awesome. As a team we just need to keep on coming, coming, when we're playing together, everything works well," said sophomore guard Sydney Sheridan.
The Bruins and the Rustlers play in the first round of the Class AA tournament on March 9, 2017 at 6:30 p.m. at the Four Seasons Arena in Great Falls.