Thomas racks up impressive record

Longtime Dillon coach

Terry Thomas

Dillon’s undefeated season was on the line in the early going of their first round state tournament game against Hardin. The Bulldogs grabbed an early 7-0 lead and were playing with confidence and intensity. Many teams would have folded, but this Dillon team rallied to win a game that was up for grabs until the final seconds.

“ All of those lessons that we tried to work on throughout the course of the year came into play in that first half of the Hardin game,” recalled Dillon coach Terry Thomas. “We had to survive a great run against a team that was fired up and ready to go. To be able to match Hardin was really a highlight of our season and our preparation of what we think is really important to basketball.

“Give those kids a lot of credit. It would have been easy to get a little bit off balance, to panic just a little bit, to get uncomfortable. When our players were able to weather the storm when things did not go perfect and we found a way to win was a satisfying feeling for our coaching staff.”

Dillon cruised through wins over Butte Central and Billings Central to win the state A championship with a perfect 24-0 season. The title moved Dillon into a tie for the top spot on the all-time Montana boys’ basketball state championship list with 10. Dillon is tied with Helena High, Great Falls High, Butte High and Missoula Sentinel.

For Thomas, it was his fifth state basketball championship in 12 years. His teams have played for the championship in 8 of the past 11 seasons.

Thomas’ led the Beavers to 5 titles in 12 years, equaling the 5 titles Dillon had won in the previous 87 seasons. There are three coaches in Montana boys’ basketball history with six state titles. Thomas is within striking distance of breaking that mark.

What is even more remarkable is his ability to coach his players to victory. His 12-year record is 240-34, an 87.6 winning percentage. The all-time Montana boys’ basketball winning percentage for a coach is listed at 83%, by Doug Vanderpan of Highwood, who went 132-27. Thomas has posted two undefeated seasons (2007 23-0, and 2017 24-0). His record averages out to a 20-3 season for each of his 12 years.

And that is just what he has accomplished in basketball. His record as a football coach is equally as impressive, with five state A championships under his belt, including an undefeated season in the fall of 2006 followed by the undefeated state basketball championship season in March of 2007.


See the March 29 Dillon Tribune for details.