By Al Malinowski
Explore Big Sky Contributor

For the last six years, Lone Peak High School basketball has worked hard to establish itself as a contender in District 11/12C, with the boys’ team achieving their first varsity winning season last year. However, there is another program that’s growing even faster and one that will serve the middle and high school teams well into the future – the Lil’ Miner Intramural Basketball Program.

In its third year, the Lil’ Miners have more than 60 participants from grades k-4. These young student-athletes are coached by the current middle and high school boys coaching staffs, parent volunteers, and current high school players. The high school player-coaches include returning all-conference athletes Luisa Locker, Trevor House and Justin McKillop. Several players with high expectations for the coming season are involved as well, including K.P. Hoffman, Kuka Holder, Tucker Hensley, Quinn House, Chris Tompkins, Justin Mayse and Andrew Garcia.

The Lil’ Miners used the LPHS gym on Wednesday evenings this fall to practice new skills that can be applied to their “game day” experience on Saturday mornings. The game-day practices allowed the kids to play a real game against their peers and in front of their biggest fans. The score was wiped clean each quarter since the scrimmages are focused on learning to play and enjoy the game, and getting all the players involved. Each week, the player-coaches served as referees to help the Lil’ Miners better understand rules like traveling, double dribbling, and fouling.

Due to limited gym availability, the first session of the Lil’ Miner program finished Nov. 22, but if there’s enough interest, there may be a second program session after the high school season ends in March.