By Dan Kelly EBS Contributor

The Lady Big Horns hosted the West Yellowstone Wolverines on Jan. 11 at Lone Peak High School before a packed house of excited fans and parents. The game marked the first time that former LPHS coach Nubia Garcia—now the coach of the Wolverines—faced off against the Lady Big Horns since taking the position at West Yellowstone.

Lone Peak soared to an early 5-0 lead on baskets by seniors Jaylene Cole and K.P. Hoffman, countered by West Yellowstone sophomore Bekah Everest’s 5-straight points midway through the first quarter.

Junior Solae Swenson reaped the rewards of her strong rebounding performance with two points on a put-back to give Lone Peak an 8-7 lead with a minute remaining in the opening quarter. The Wolverines clawed back the lead when leading scorer Danna Ochoa, who finished with 15 points, made a 3-point play by sinking her foul shot. At the end of the first, the score stood tied at 10-10.

The momentum shifted heavily in Lone Peak’s favor in the second quarter. Swenson assisted Cole in a basket that gave the Big Horns a 13-10 lead with just over five minutes left in the half. Freshman guard Kate Jackson answered for the Wolverines, sinking two free-throws to bring her team within one point.

The Big Horns were on a roll however, and sophomore Emma Flach joined in the 16-4 Lone Peak scoring spree with a strong drive to the basket that swiftly brought the score to 18-12. Cole, Swenson and Hoffman all tacked on baskets and, as the half drew to a close, LPHS led 26-14.

Sara Wilson, Reilly Germain, Brooke Botha, Ruth Blodgett and Ivy Hicks all played important minutes down the stretch for LPHS, playing scrappy defense, distributing the ball and boxing-out to put themselves in position to rebound well.

Hoffman and Swenson maintained a strong presence on the inside glass at both ends of the court and Cole, who finished the night with 15 points, drilled a three early in the third quarter to put the Lady Big Horns up big. West Yellowstone’s two top scorers made buckets during a 9-5 run capped with a basket by Everest. Freshman guard Hannah Wakefield added 2 points, netting a timely basket for the Wolverines.

With the score at 34-27 and 1:27 left in the third, Flach put her skills on display as an emerging force at the guard position for Lone Peak, scoring on a tough lay-up and a strong drive to the basket on back-to-back possessions for the Lady Big Horns.

“We have been looking to Emma to step up this season and she is doing a really great job,” said Coach Ausha Cole. At the end of the third quarter, Lone Peak was firmly in control of the game, leading 39-28.

Swenson, who scored 6 points and had a plethora of rebounds for the Lady Big Horns, found Flach again early in the fourth quarter to put the Big Horns up big and they never looked back. Led by Hoffman, who scored 18 points on the night and was 10 of 13 from the foul line, the Lady Big Horns continued to trade baskets with the Wolverines, keeping them at bay.

“Nubia joked about triple-teaming K.P. [Hoffman] before the game,” said Coach Cole. “It ended up being a double-team, but she was expecting it and she handled it really well.”

As the game drew to a close, West Yellowstone scored a flurry of baskets, but as the final seconds ticked off the clock, the score read 52-43 in favor of the Lady Big Horns.

The Big Horns travel to Ennis on Jan. 19, followed by two home games on Jan. 25 against Shields Valley, and Gardiner on Jan. 26. Lone Peak hits the road again to play White Sulphur Springs on Jan. 30, and is back home for a game against Manhattan Christian on Feb. 2.

Visit bssd72.org/athletics/ for a complete season schedule.