HELENA — You won't find many high school kids quite like Hayden Ferguson. But then again, three-sport athletes with a 4.0 GPA and a 35 on the ACT don't necessarily grow on trees.
Ferguson, who competes in football, basketball and track at Helena High, is in the midst of basketball season with the Bengals. His team is 3-6 and fresh off a loss to Helena Capital in the crosstown game last week.
But Ferguson and the Bengals are building momentum. Not only have they beaten Butte High and Missoula Big Sky recently, on the road, they also took third-ranked Capital to the brink, thanks in large part to 20 points and eight boards, from Ferguson.
It was the second straight game Ferguson scored 20 or more, as he poured in 24 in his prior outing against Big Sky, with 22 coming in the second half.
"I think I was struggling a bit in the beginning of the season," Ferguson said. "And it's a confidence boost. I was in more of a supporting role last year and I think I am finally making that transition. These last two games have really shown me that I can be that next person along with Logan (Brown) and I can do it consistently."
Ferguson is now averaging 8.3 points and 5.1 rebounds per game for the Bengals, who will be back on the court Friday and Saturday, as they will host Kalispell Glacier Friday (7:15 p.m.) followed by Kalispell Flathead Saturday at 2 p.m.
Yet, even during basketball season, the senior has much more than hoops on his mind. He's trying to help get his team to the Class AA state tournament in March, at the same time he's making one of the biggest decisions of his life.
Ferguson is currently trying to choose between attending Stanford for academics or going to Montana State, where he can pursue his education and potentially play football. The two-time All-State defender has a preferred walk-on offer from the Cats.
"I am looking at engineering or aeronautical engineering," Ferguson said. "I would kind of be in the design business of planes, missiles, more aerodynamic type stuff."
As a quarterback and javelin thrower for Helena, the 6-foot-1 Ferguson knows a thing or two about aerodynamics. He also knows about work ethic, just listening to his daily routine tells you that.
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While the future is bright, Ferguson's focus is very much on the present and after a week off, the Bengals will be back in action Friday. Before that, though, the Independent Record caught with with him for five questions.
IR: How do you find the time to play three sports and do everything else that you do?
Ferguson: "It's a lot of work but it's about time management. There will be a lot of days, where I get home from practice, eat dinner, then in about 15 minutes, I do homework for about three hours a night. It doesn't exactly make it easy, but I enjoy sports, even if it's a lot of school work."
IR: What are some of your other extra-curricular activities?
Ferguson: "I am part of National Honor Society, 3-7-77 Club, part of the French Club and every summer I have done week-long camp for the rotary international club and that's a leadership camp."
IR: Out of football, basketball and track, what's your favorite?
Ferguson: "I have always had the most fun playing football. It has always been my best sport and if I was going to play in college, it would be football. But all of the sports are fun and it's a good way to stay out of trouble as my parents always say."
IR: What have you enjoyed the most about being a high school athlete?
Ferguson: Just spending time with people and the atmospheres at games and stuff like that, like crosstown. You have college rivalries but there is nothing like having the whole city, half going for you and half going against you all in one place. It just gives you something to remember."
IR: What's the goal for the rest of the season?
Ferguson: "Going into this week, we want to try and secure that No. 4 spot in the West going into divisionals. As this point, our goal, like every other team, is to make it to state and not just make it, but have an impact. I think that we know we have the talent to do that as long we put it all together and execute."
Editor's note: This is the start of a weekly series featuring local athletes.