Big Horns defeat Rebels by two

By Amanda Eggert EBS Staff Writer

LPHS freshman point guard Kolya Bough sets up the Big Horns for a shot opportunity in their 52-50 win over Shields Valley. The Big Horns and Rebels kept a packed house on their toes through all four quarters of their Jan. 2 game in Big Sky. PHOTOS BY AMANDA EGGERT

LPHS freshman point guard Kolya Bough sets up the Big Horns for a shot opportunity in their 52-50 win over Shields Valley. The Big Horns and Rebels kept a packed house on their toes through all four quarters of their Jan. 2 game in Big Sky. PHOTOS BY AMANDA EGGERT

BIG SKY – The final seconds of the Big Horns boys basketball game against Shields Valley on Jan. 2 felt familiar to the upperclassmen on both teams, with one key difference: This time the Big Horns came out on top.

With fewer than ten seconds on the clock and the score tied up, Big Horns’ leading scorer, junior guard Eddie Starz, intercepted a pass and drove for a lay-up to secure LPHS’s 52-50 victory.

“We played [Shields Valley] two years ago in districts and we lost a game in almost the exact same fashion with about just as much time left on the clock,” said LPHS Head Coach Al Malinowski. “We certainly know what that feels like.”

Starz’s final play concluded a strong offensive showing during which he scored 20 points. “Eddie Starz, when the game is on the line, is ready to step in [with] that one spectacular play to put us over the top,” Malinowski said.

The Rebels have an ace of their own in junior guard Brock Peterson, who has been starting for Shields Valley since he was a freshman and scored 21 points in the first half.

In the second half, the Big Horns stepped up their defense, holding Peterson to just three more points. He fouled out in the fourth quarter, a decisive blow to the Rebels’ offense. Shields Valley’s second-highest scorer was junior guard Colton Jones, who scored eight points during the tight contest.

“I don’t think either team ever got up by more than five points, if they ever got up by that many,” Malinowski said. “It seems like the last couple of years, every time we play, we have tight games like that.”

Malinowski is impressed by the improvement his players have demonstrated, and is noticing greater team cohesion. “I thought everyone did a really nice job of going in and contributing,” he said. “I really think that [Saturday] was the first time that we consistently had five players on the floor [who] were competing.”

Sophomore guard Liam Germain scored four 3-pointers, just shy of the school record of five, which is shared by Tucker Hensley and Justin McKillop. “I think that’s the beginning of what we’re going to see from [Liam},” Malinowski said.

This win brings the Big Horns’ record to 2-4. “If I put game film side-by-side from our first game, I would think we were totally different people,” Malinowski said. “I still think we have a lot of room to grow. I’m excited that these guys were able to get that win because I think it will be a real confidence booster.”

Lady Big Horns dominate second half for decisive win

LPHS sophomore center Kuka Holder prepares to sink a free throw. The Lady Big Horns made 17 of 20 free throw attempts in their win against the Shields Valley Rebels.

LPHS sophomore center Kuka Holder prepares to sink a free throw. The Lady Big Horns made 17 of 20 free throw attempts in their win against the Shields Valley Rebels.

BIG SKY – Shields Valley ran an effective defensive press in the early minutes of Lone Peak High School’s Jan. 2 home game, but it didn’t last long.

The Lady Big Horns broke the Rebels’ press in the second quarter and established strong second-half momentum on their way to a 52-31 victory.

“We worked on press-breaking all week in practice and they executed almost perfectly,” said head coach Nubia Allen, adding that the Rebels, one of the top teams in the district, is known for throwing off opponents by running a tough press.

“[Shields Valley] won districts two years ago and last year they made it to divisional,” Allen said. “This is the first time we beat them at home.”

The win was hard earned and the Lady Big Horns had to fight for every shot opportunity early on. Both teams had low-scoring first quarters, with the Lady Big Horns earning six points to Shields Valley’s seven.

The pace started to pick up for the Lady Big Horns in the second quarter, with junior guard Bella Butler sinking a 3-pointer and sophomore center KP Hoffman contributing two baskets. LPHS led 17-11 at the close of the first half.

Junior guard Dasha Bough scored two back-to-back 3-pointers early on in the third quarter and the Rebels’ fate was sealed. “That really just deflated the other team,” Allen said. Near the end of the third quarter, LPHS had doubled up Shields Valley, leading 28-14. By then, the Rebels had long ago abandoned their defensive press.

The Lady Big Horns were especially accurate from the free throw line, shooting 85 percent. With 20 free throw opportunities, those points added up quickly, especially with the Rebels making just four of nine free throws.

The Lady Big Horns played a strong game on the other end of the court as well, racking up 14 steals. Junior point guard Luisa Locker claimed eight of them and also came up big on offense, leading both teams with 12 points.

Sophomore center KP Hoffman led LPHS in rebounds with nine and junior forward Bianca Godoy grabbed four offensive boards, converting them into shot opportunities.

“That’s where [Godoy] gets her points,” Allen said. “That’s where she’s been a huge rebounder.”

Despite their strong showing on Jan. 2, Allen’s not expecting a straightforward win when they meet up again Jan. 28. “I’m not planning to play an easy game next time [when] we see them in Shields Valley,” she said.

But first the Lady Big Horns have to face the district-leading and undefeated Twin Bridges Falcons on their turf Saturday, Jan. 9.