By Bay Stephens EBS Staff Writer
The Lady Big Horns have kept up a busy schedule in recent weeks, bringing their season record to 5-3 in their conference and 8-3 overall.
Lone Peak beat White Sulphur Springs decisively Sept. 27 and trumped Shields Valley on Oct. 2.
On Sept. 28, the Lady Big Horns went toe-to-toe with the Twin Bridges Falcons in Big Sky for a nail-biter victory, winning 3 sets to 2. Onl
y six girls were available to play—the rest out with injuries, illness or traveling—yet beat a school that Lone Peak’s sports teams have rarely defeated.
“I’ve dubbed them the ‘Sensational Six,’” head coach Missy Botha said. “They played for 5 sets without a substitution, and competed with such focus, determination and grit, they were able to pull away from the Falcons in the last set to clinch the historic win.”
Although Athletic Director John Hannahs said a Lone Peak volleyball team has beaten Twin Bridges at least once in the past, he confirmed that this was the first victory over the team in Botha’s tenure as coach and that no other LPHS sports team has claimed a victory over Twin Bridges.
“It was kind of hectic,” senior captain Brooke Botha said. “Most of us haven’t played in all of the positions, so that was definitely a challenge that we did overcome.”
Solae Swenson, another senior and captain, said it was an exciting game, especially because she plays all positions regularly, so she had the opportunity to really encourage her teammates.
“It was just fun … helping them figure out what to do if they were in a position that they [normally] didn’t play,” Swenson said.
The day after the exhilarating victory, the skeleton team played in a tournament at Manhattan Christian School, which did not go well with how tired all the players were, coach Botha said.
On Oct. 9, Lone Peak lost a hard-fought match to the Manhattan Christian Eagles. Last year, the Big Horns beat the Eagles twice in the regular season, then lost to them in the district tournament. Coach Botha said she hopes to return the favor this year.
On Wednesday, Oct. 17, Lone Peak will face off against White Sulphur Springs in their Spike for the Cure game sponsored by Ace Hardware, which will raise money through a raffle and donations to benefit the Bozeman Health Cancer Center. The junior varsity game is at 5 p.m., the varsity team plays at 6:30 p.m. and fans are encouraged to show their support by wearing pink.
The Big Sky football season draws to a close for Ophir Middle School and Lone Peak High School with final home games against Absarokee Public Schools on Oct. 12.
The Lone Peak Big Horns lost to Twin Bridges on Sept. 28, losing the momentum just before halftime when Twin Bridges tied the game 20-20. In the second half, Twin Bridges outscored Big Sky by 8 points for a 34-26 win.
Cole March caught a touchdown pass from Frankie Starz, Kegan Babick rushed for two scores, and Starz also added one on the ground. Starz threw for more than 200 yards, and Austin Samuels had a big night in the receiving game.
The Big Horns lost 54-0 in their Oct. 5 game away against the Ennis Mustangs. Although Lone Peak held the Mustangs to 8 points in the first quarter, the “wheels fell off from there,” head coach Adam Farr said, adding that the team’s eight starters simply became exhausted because they played nearly every down.
It’s been a tough season for the Big Horns, but they were lucky in terms of injuries, only losing freshman receiver Bennett Miller to a blown knee early in the season. Farr said he’s proud of his team and how they’ve held up.
“The team keeps fighting every single game,” Farr said. “It’s awesome. They don’t give up, even when the score’s sometimes getting out of hand.”
The Ophir Middle School Miners are wrapping up a stellar season with a 6-1 record, often scoring more than 50 points in their victories.
On Oct. 9, they buried West Yellowstone 76-19, controlling both sides of the line by forcing turnovers and relentlessly finding the end zone. The win was a big deal for the Miners, who had taken beatings from West Yellowstone—who played a 16-year-old halfback last year—the past two seasons.
In an interview the day before the game, head coach Ben Holst told EBS, “These guys and I are pretty anxious to beat [West Yellowstone]—handily. … If that goes the way we think it’s going to go, that will be the favorite game of the year.”
Holst wrote in an Oct. 10 email to EBS that it was a cathartic win. “If I had to pick a favorite, it would be that game, but wins are like kids, it’s hard to pick a favorite.
Holst is the only coach for the middle school team, but has found success due to his players’ leadership and teachability.
“I felt comfortable [coaching alone] just because I’d been coaching these eighth graders since they were sixth graders, and they’re all good leaders,” Holst said. On days when he is late to practice because of work, Holst’s eighth graders will have the team warmed up and stretched by the time he arrives.
A large class of 10 seventh graders has been a boon for Holst, but he also noted how two sixth graders had earned spots as starters this season and are playing well.
“I think it’s a combination of the personnel and their willingness to learn and play as a team,” Holst said of the successful season. “They’re also really unselfish, which makes them easy to coach.”
Parental support has also been an advantage, Holst said. At his request, parents took photos and videos throughout the season, the latter of which Holst has been able to use to teach his players.
“I’m just really proud of these guys,” Holst said, adding that the team didn’t win a game two years ago and went 3-5 last year. “It’s been fun to watch them succeed.”
Abarokee School District’s middle and high school teams bested the Big Sky teams on Oct. 12, 30-18 for the middle school game and 66-48 in the high school game in Big Sky.
As of Oct. 10, the Big Sky Futbol Club was 5-2-2, with two games left in the season.
On Sept. 29, Big Sky beat Foothills Community Christian School 4-3, and on Oct. 2 tied the same team from Great Falls 2-2.
The club defeated Billings Christian School 4-2 away on Oct. 6.
“It was a total team effort,” wrote coach Tony Coppola in an email. “The scoring was spread out and we had pretty solid defense. Nehalem Manka scored from the corner kick with a beautiful in swinging goal.
“Nolan Schumacher was extremely successful on the defensive third,” he added. “He showed great composure and leadership in the back. I was very pleased with his play.”
This bout of games ended with a 2-2 tie against Mt. Ellis Academy on Oct. 9.
Junior Tracen O’Connor and freshman Nate McCain, Lone Peak’s cross-country pioneers, crossed finish lines in Missoula and Big Timber in recent weeks, continuing to go where no Big Horn has gone before.
In the Mountain West Invitational on Sept. 29 in Missoula, O’Connor and McCain ran in a mob of 716 other runners, placing 405th and 611th, respectively. O’Connor ran the undulating course in 21 minutes, 35 seconds while McCain finished in 24 minutes.
Head coach David Brekke said the course had steep uphills and that his runners’ times were stunted because they were stuck in the pack of runners on a narrow course.
The Crazy Mountain Run in Big Timber on Oct. 6 was a whole different animal. Competing on a flatter course against a field of only 29 runners, both Big Horns achieved personal best times in their first varsity run of the season.
O’Connor finished 19th with a time of 20 minutes and 30 seconds and McCain came in at 24th with a time of 22 minutes, 16 seconds.
“[It was] a lot more peaceful,” McCain said. “I guess because you didn’t have 200 people at your back most of the race.”
McCain said it’s been helpful to practice with the more experienced O’Connor, who has been a role model for his running. McCain’s goal time for their state meet on Oct. 20 in Missoula is 21:30, “because that was Tracen’s time on his first run and I would like to beat that time,” he said.