BILLINGS - If you make it to this week's State B basketball tournaments in Billings and happen to glance down media row, you'll see a lot of seasoned veterans. And one not quite there yet but well on his way -- fully equipped with a bag of Cheetos and a bottle of water.
"My name is Anderson McNiven," he told MTN Sports while planted court side at the recent Southern B divisional basketball tournaments at First Interstate Arena. "I go to Huntley Project and about two years ago, me and my dad did (broadcast) the end of the football season."
McNiven is only 14 and handled his first play-by-play a couple years ago at a football game when he was 12. That led to high school volleyball action and later basketball.
Pretty promising start for a kid not yet in high school.
"My very first broadcast, I think it was versus Joliet and it was a basketball game," McNiven recalled. "I asked my dad, are you ever going to let me do this? He said, sure, why not, so I took over and I've been doing it for a good year and a half now."
A good year and a half. He's not even old enough to drive, needs a ride to ball games, and yet has the best seat in the house painting a picture for those who can't be there. And as fate has it, that includes his dad this week on vacation. So, Anderson has recruited his uncle.
"So, me and (my uncle) Chad have to do a state tournament all by ourselves now," McNiven said.
They'll broadcast Huntley Project's opening game of the State B boys basketball tournament against Fairfield at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday on KFHW FM radio 101.1 It will also be streamed live on the Yellowstone County News website.
McNiven will trot in on game day with arms full of radio equipment and set up on media row in a spot promptly marked with his station's call letters. Then it's game on.
Last Friday night's semifinal between Huntley Project and Lodge Grass felt more like a track meet, not easy to call for seasoned sportscasters, let alone an eighth grader.
"It was just such a fast-paced game, they make a point, they make a point," he said afterward. "It's kind of hard to get the whole game into just a couple sentences as they're just running back and forth."
It is hard. But McNiven is learning that the more he does it, the more he nails it.
And if it seems like all fun and games, well -- it is. He says it's a big privilege to occasionally miss a little school, but the 14-year-old still has to find time to balance homework and sleep.
"It's a busy schedule, I'll tell you that," he said.
Here's the thing: It's about to get busier. McNiven also plays basketball. So, what happens to sportscasting if and when he makes Huntley Project's high school team?
"What I think I'll do is, we do girls and boys (games), so I'll probably broadcast the girls game and then go play my game when I get into high school. It'll be fun," McNiven said.
Keep the Cheetos on standby.