Hugs brothers make history in Billings Central-Hardin rivalry ga - KTVQ.com | Q2 | Continuous News Coverage | Billings, MT

Hugs brothers make history in Billings Central-Hardin rivalry game

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BOZEMAN - Billings Central and Hardin developed into one of the Montana's best boys basketball rivalries this year.

The two teams played multiple overtime games in the regular season, and it seemed right that they would met in the Class A state championship game. But for one family, that meant both a win and a loss.

For the first time in Montana high school history, two brothers would line up opposite each other in a state title game - older brother Jae Hugs, a Central High senior, and younger brother Trae Hugs, a sophomore at Hardin.

“What are the odds of brothers on different teams meeting in the title game?” said Andrew Round Face, the Hardin head coach. “I should have bought a lottery ticket.”

Central head Coach Jim Stergar understood the magnitude of the moment and made arrangements for Jae and Trae to be introduced last in the pre-game lineups.

“I just said we need to do this. We need to get these two lined up with each other,” said Stergar. “And if we can get them last, I think it would really be a special moment for that family and for each one of those boys."

The emotion was apparent when the brothers met at center court.

"When I gave him a hug, I said, no matter what happens tonight, I’m really proud of you,” said Jae Hugs. “I said, you make me so proud and I am so proud to be your brother and I'll always love you.”

Adding to the emotion, their father was the assistant coach for Hardin. He was overwhelmed with emotion when his son, playing for the other team, gave him a hug before the game.

"He just said no matter what the outcome is, Dad, I really love you,” said Justin Hugs, Jae and Trae’s father. “He just said, I love you with all my heart."

It was a hard-fought game, but in the end, Hardin was victorious, winning its first championship in 21 years, 47-43.

Through the disappointment of defeat, Jae understood what the moment meant, not just for his family, but for the entire Hardin community.

"It would’ve been nice if we would have won but the way things ended…was for a reason,” said Jae. “Obviously there’s something behind that reason and I'll forever be grateful for that, you know, words can’t explain how awesome it was."

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