Caleb Bellach becomes the 2nd Oredigger to be named 1st Team All-American
For only the second time in program history, and the first time in 24 years, the Montana Tech men’s basketball program has a 1st Team NAIA All-American.
Caleb Bellach received that incredible honor yesterday.
The Junior from Manhattan led the Orediggers and the Frontier Conference in scoring at 21.8 ppg. In just his second season at Montana Tech, Bellach has jumped to #10 on the all-time scoring list with 1,015 pts.
In scoring 545 points this season, Caleb shot 50% from the floor, and 85% from the free-throw line. Caleb played in 30 games this season, and in those games, he was held to single digits in scoring only twice. On the other side of that coin, he finished with more than 25 points on eight different occasions.
Bellach was at the forefront of another record-setting year for the Orediggers, as Montana Tech finished the year with a 29-5 record, (new school record for wins) and reached the NAIA Quarterfinals for the first time in school history.
Bellach was named NAIA All-American Honorable Mention a year ago.
The very first NAIA 1st Team All-American honor in Montana Tech history went to Brian Watson in 1999. Brian was a 3-time First Team All-Conference selection in the Frontier from 1997-1999.
In 1998 he finished with 619 points, and 282 rebounds, for his efforts he was selected NAIA Second Team All-American. The 619 points was a new school record, breaking Brad Huse’s mark of 618 set in 1989.
In 1999 Brian upped the ante once again, scoring a single season, school-record 718 points. Watson was selected as the Frontier Conference MVP, and was also named 1st Team NAIA All-American, a first for Montana Tech Basketball.
There are some significant similarities between the two Orediggers and their respective teams. Brian Watson’s Diggs were able to fight into the NAIA National Tournament in 1998 and 1999. On their first trip to the National Tournament in 1998 they were matched up with Biola (CA) and lost 61-54. They were able to get back to the Tournament the next year, where they fell to Union (TN) 58-45 in 1999.
The Oredigger men went 22 years before they would get back to the National Tournament.
Last season Montana Tech won the Frontier Conference tournament and a spot in the National Tournament. Playing in Waxahachie TX, the Orediggers secured their first Tournament win in program history, with a win over Mid-America Christian. They fell in the round of 32 with a loss to SAGU (TX).
We still have this season fresh in our minds. The Diggs won the Frontier regular season crown, the Frontier Tournament, and then won 3 games at the National tournament while advancing to the NAIA quarterfinals.
Back-to-back trips to the NAIA Tournament for Brian Watson in 1998 &1999, and NAIA 1st Team All-American in 1999.
Caleb Bellach, back-to-back trips to the NAIA National Tournament in 2022 & 2023, and NAIA 1st Team All-American in 2023.
The similarities come to a screeching halt when you remember that Caleb Bellach has one more year of basketball ahead of him.
FUN FACT: The Oredigger men have been to the National Tournament 4 times. 1998, 1999,2022, and 2023. There has been a Bellach on all 4 of those teams.