By Dan Kelly EBS Contributor
BIG SKY – Lone Peak’s Lady Big Horns ended the regular season on a high note against Sheridan on Feb. 9, winning 55-33 over the Sheridan Panthers. Playing before stands packed with parents, friends and supporters from around the Big Sky community, the Lady Big Horns did not disappoint on Senior Day.
In their last home game at Lone Peak High School, seniors K.P. Hoffman and Jay Cole led their team to a double-digit win as the team prepared for the district tournament which began Feb. 15 and continues through Saturday Feb. 17, at Manhattan Christian. Together, the two seniors bagged 35 points on their way to an emphatic LPHS victory.
Cole tied her own season record for three pointers in a single game, draining six shots from beyond the arc and scoring 23 points in the game. She continued to facilitate good ball movement facing the 2-3 zone of the Panthers, a defensive formation that had given the Lady Big Horns trouble earlier in the season.
Hoffman had 13 points of her own and continued to be a physical presence on the post, extending her streak of double-doubles for the Lady Bi Hhorns with another strong rebounding game. Hoffman also was 3 for 4 from the free-throw line, finishing her career shooting 81 percent from the foul line.
Head Coach Ausha Cole was impressed by watching her team find their stride going into districts. “I think we are in a good place momentum-wise and we are hitting our peak at the right moment,” she said.
Leading 31-10 at half and firmly in control of the game, many of the younger players on the team clocked the most minutes they had seen this season, providing a glimpse into the future of the Lady Big Horns. The Panthers tried to claw their way back, but the Big Horns kept their lead intact and continued to put points on the board.
Cole drained a three, then got a steal on the next possession and scored a breakaway basket that cemented the lead for Lone Peak at 41-17 with 3:50 remaining in the third quarter. The score was 55-28 as the seniors left the court for the final time at LPHS with just over two minutes remaining in the game. They came off the court to a standing ovation filled with raucous applause from the crowds of supporters.
During half-time of the boys’ basketball game, there was a special ceremony for senior basketball players and cheerleaders from LPHS. Cole, Hoffman and cheerleader Abi Hogan were joined by their parents as teammates and coaches read speeches highlighting the student-athletes’ accomplishments.
At the end of heartfelt words that summed up each girl’s contributions to their team and school, there was another round of applause for the seniors.
Coach Cole emphasized the contributions of her departing seniors Hoffman and Cole. In a post-game interview, she highlighted their attributes as players and team leaders.
“They have proven themselves to be very valuable to this team,” Cole said. “[They] are huge contributors to our scoring game and K.P. is one of our key rebounders and defenders. They both love to win and are willing to do what it takes … a quality that is hard to find in young athletes.”
Results of the Feb.15 District 11C Tournament Game against Gardiner were not available at EBS press time. Win or lose, the Lady Big Horns will continue to play in the tournament on Friday, Feb. 16, and Saturday, Feb. 17, at Manhattan Christian’s Memorial Events Center in Churchill, Montana.
Visit montanasports.com for a complete, updated tournament schedule.