Former Tiger standout St. Clair a national champion

    National Champion, it has a nice ring to it, and former Lander Valley High School standout Bryan (Beaver) St. Clair will have another ring in a few weeks after his College of Idaho Yotes won the NAIA Men’s National Basketball Championship over Indiana Tech last Saturday 73-71.

    Beaver St. Clair of Lander holds the College of Idaho banner as the Yotes celebrate a national championship {h/t Bryan St. Clair}

    “It was surreal, I can’t even remember, the buzzer went off then we were all running and jumping on the court,” St. Clair said.

    The Yotes dropped their season opener then reeled off 36 straight wins.


    St. Clair is familiar with championship games, playing as a sophomore in Lander’s 58-40 state championship win over Powell in 2019.

    “It was like when we won state my sophomore year, it took me time to realize what it meant,” St. Clair said.

    The NAIA National Champion Yotes of the College of Idaho – {h/t Bryan St. Clair}

    A formal celebration with the school, students, and community will take place later this week in Caldwell.

    “When we celebrate with the students and the campus it will be great,” St. Clair said. “I can’t believe I’m part of a national championship, especially growing up in Ft. Washakie.”


    The Yotes rolled through the 64-team national bracket convincingly before facing stiff competition as they reached the Final Four.

    They opened with a 78-61 over Westcliff, then advanced to the Sweet 16 with a 76-61 over Xavier Louisiana.

    Beaver St. Clair celebrates wtih his teammates after draining a 3-point shot – {h/t Bryan St. Clair}

    In the round of 16 game, St. Clair scored five points, hitting both of his shots including a long 3-pointer in a 98-50 win over Louisiana State University – Shreveport.


    Two days later, St. Clair hit another trey in an 83-66 win over Tougaloo, Mississippi that advanced the Yotes to the Final Four.

    Idaho won a nail-biter in the semi-finals over Ottawa University of Arizona 73-72.

    Beaver St. Clair hit a 3-point shot – {h/t Bryan St. Clair}

    “We were up 20 in the second half, then 7 or 8 minutes they started to come back, I don’t think the officials liked our coach,” St. Clair said.


    The Yotes led 50-27 with 12:43 remaining in the game when the Spirit rallied to close the gap to 73-70 with just 5.5 seconds left to play.

    Ottawa attempted a 3-point shot, but it was partially blocked and the two-point follow shot dropped through as the buzzer sounded, sending Idaho to the finals with the one-point win.

    “A few key calls gave that team motivation,” St. Clair said. “We shot below 50% at the line and they came back, hitting a big 3 to make it close. We didn’t score a basket in the last five minutes of the game.”

    It was a nearly identical finish in the national championship game against Indiana Tech. Idaho had a huge lead at the half 45-26 but saw it evaporate as the game went on, but once again they held on for a 73-71 win and the national championship.

    St. Clair is a red-shirt freshman and saw substantial minutes at times throughout the season.

    “I’m a point guard, and play in end-of-the-game situations mostly,” St. Clair said. “I got decent minutes since we only had four close games, I played almost every single game.”

    Beaver St. Clair brought the ball up for the Yotes – {h/t Bryan St. Clair}

    The transition from Class 3-A Wyoming basketball to playing on a national championship NAIA team is huge.

    “It’s definitely a big transition. From high school to college, that’s a transition in itself. Being able to compete at this level, especially in a winning situation like this team is a huge transition,” St. Clair said. “It’s hard coming from Wyoming where you’re playing a whole lot, and then coming here where you’re watching a lot. I was really happy with my minutes.  I’m definitely playing behind some dudes that could play D1.”

    As most red-shirt freshmen do, St. Clair spends a lot of time on the scout team.

    “We have our scout team that plays against the bench and the starting guys,” St. Clair said. “In the open gyms, there is a lot of talking going on. Coach Blaine will have to stop us sometimes.”

    The Yotes don’t graduate anyone off this year’s team, “We could the entire team come back,” St. Clair said.

    He is majoring in psychology and has plans to stay in Caldwell this summer if things work out.

    “School is going really well, everything is going great,” St. Clair said.

    His immediate plans are to complete this semester academically and continue to jump in track and field, then maybe move off campus to a house.

    “If we don’t get a house, I’ll come back to Lander,” St. Clair said. “The facilities here on campus, the gym, and the weight room is something I use. We have open gyms and play Northwest Nazarene a lot, plus returning players.”

    Competition on a championship team is infectious, “Our team is really good, so I have to work hard and double my workout routines,” St. Clair said.

    St. Clair long jumps for the Yotes track team and has a brief break before outdoor workouts begin. “My coach is very kind I have spring break next week then I’m back out for track,” St. Clair said.

    St. Clair’s parents are Darwin “Sonny” and Viola St. Clair.


    Related Posts

    Have a news tip or an awesome photo to share?