Story and photos by Amanda Eggert EBS Staff Writer
Lady Big Horns win three consecutive home games
BIG SKY – After winning three consecutive home games, the 14-4 Lady Big Horns were ranked third going into the District tournament at Manhattan Christian Feb. 17–20.
Lone Peak High School head coach Nubia Allen said it’s the best district ranking any LPHS sports team has earned in the school’s history.
LPHS won all three of those games by comfortable margins, outscoring their opponents by a minimum of 14 points in each contest. Allen credits greater team cohesion for their strong offensive showings. “I’ve seen more chemistry between the girls. We’re giving up good shots for better shots, and that’s huge,” she said.
Feb. 13, the Lady Big Horns put a generous margin between themselves and the Lima Bears early on. They led 19-7 at the close of the first half, and in the second half, Allen put her junior varsity squad in for several minutes of varsity play.
“It’s nice to see them play varsity and hold their own,” Allen said. Nine of 12 LPHS players scored points on the way to a 45-22 win.
Sophomore guard Kuka Holder led both teams with 11 points. Junior forward Jenna McKillop led the Lady Big Horns’ rebounding efforts with nine boards.
The night before, the Lady Big Horns faced off against West Yellowstone, an aggressive team and their biggest rival. Supporters for both squads came out in force.
The Lady Big Horns took some time to find their footing against the Wolverines, putting up just nine points in the first quarter.
“[The Wolverines] are fighters on both ends of the court,” Allen said. “Everything that they do, they’re going to do 100 percent. Once we were able to handle that aggressiveness, they got deflated.”
In the second quarter, LPHS started attacking the basket and sinking shots. They opened up their lead to 28-11 by the halftime buzzer.
The Lady Big Horns’ 16 field goals were shared among seven players. Junior point guard Luisa Locker, sophomore center KP Hoffman and junior guard Dasha Bough tied for the most LPHS points in the contest with nine a piece. Bailee Parker led the Wolverines with 10 points.
Hoffman and Locker had particularly strong nights from the free-throw line, each making five of six attempts. As a team, the Lady Big Horns shot 65 percent from the foul line.
Feb. 6, LPHS took on White Sulphur Springs for their first and only
regular-season matchup. They defeated the Hornets 47-33, grabbing 32 rebounds and making five 3-pointers along the way. Four of those 3-pointers belonged to Locker, who led both teams with 14 points.
On Feb. 18, the Lady Big Horns faced the sixth-ranked Hornets in the first round of the District tournament. As of EBS press time on Feb. 17, Allen was feeling good about the opportunity the Lady Big Horns had to make a splash in the tournament.
“We put ourselves in the best position possible,” Allen said. “If everything goes according to plan, we’ll be playing Manhattan Christian on [Feb. 19]. I think we have a very, very good chance of winning Districts.”
Big Horns win two, lose one at home
BIG SKY – The Big Horns wrapped up their regular season of play with three solid showings at home, winning two games and losing one close contest.
Feb. 13, the Big Horns nearly doubled the Lima Bears’ points for a 71-38 win, bringing their record to 6-12. All nine players contributed at least one basket and one rebound.
“Everyone that went in played well and contributed,” said Lone Peak High School head coach Al Malinowski, adding that four players reached double-digits with their scoring.
The game’s trajectory was established early on – by the end of the first quarter, LPHS was up 22-4.
Lima has a small team, so when one of their five players fouled out, the Big Horns finished out the fourth quarter by matching up their four youngest players against the remaining Bears in four-on-four fashion.
Eighth-grader Frankie Starz had a particularly solid showing, scoring six points in the fourth quarter. “It was really good to see him show that as far as his talents and abilities go, he deserves the opportunity [to play on the high school team],” Malinowski said.
The previous night, LPHS defeated West Yellowstone 51-44 in a game that remained close all the way through the fourth quarter. Malinowski said the crowd was so worked up they made the game video footage blurry with their bleacher-shaking cheering.
“I’m sure having that much support behind them gave our guys more of a push to find energy in the fourth quarter. It had an impact,” Malinowski said. When the two teams faced off Jan. 15, the Wolverines bested the Big Horns 44-43.
The two teams traded the lead several times throughout their Feb. 12 game. LPHS was up 15-10 at the end of the first quarter, but the Wolverines had a strong second quarter, scoring 15 points to the Big Horns’ eight. At halftime, the Wolverines led 25-23.
Junior guard Eddie Starz spurred the Big Horns’ momentum during a close third quarter with one basket outside the 3-point arc, one inside it, and two free throws. He scored 26 points on the night, nearly double the next closest scorer, West Yellowstone’s Bryce Loamis who had 14 points.
Early in the fourth quarter, the Big Horns initiated a scoring streak that carried them to victory.
Frankie Starz hit a 3-pointer to tie the game, and sophomore guard Liam Germain followed it with a steal he converted into two points at the other end of the court.
A couple of possessions later, senior post Chris Tompkins fed Kolya Bough who drained a 3-pointer to open his scoring for the night. Bough followed it by making five-of-six from the free-throw line.
The Big Horns shot 17 free throws during the fourth quarter alone. They made 58 percent of their 31 attempts. “I’d like to see us get in the high 60s and maybe hit 70 [percent], but getting there 31 times [was] really important,” Malinowski said.
The Wolverines played a competitive game all the way through. “We made more plays in the fourth quarter, and that gave us the win, but they were certainly fighting, too,” Malinowski said.
Feb. 6, the Big Horns lost 69-61 to the fourth-ranked White Sulphur Springs Hornets in a close home game.
As of EBS press time on Feb. 17, the eighth-ranked Big Horns were preparing to play the ninth-ranked Wolverines again. The teams were seeded against each other in the first round of the District 11/12C tournament, which takes place at Manhattan Christian Feb. 17-20.
Malinowski said he was hoping for another game where multiple Big Horns make strong contributions on offense. “I think the team that gets more production from more players has a better chance of winning that game,” Malinowski said.
The top four teams from the District tournament will advance to the Western C Divisional tournament held in Hamilton, Mont. Feb. 24-27.