By Dan Kelly EBS Contributor
BIG SKY – The Lone Peak Big Horns defeated the Sheridan Panthers 74-52 in an electric home performance on Feb. 9. Their final regular season game was the last home game for departing seniors Jackson Wade, Liam Germain and Ethan Schumacher, three linchpins of the Big Horns’ lineup.
Wade continued to be a physical presence on the low post, snatching up rebounds on both ends of the floor and contesting shots by the Panthers in the paint as well as putting up 12 points for the night.
Germain, a guard who has earned a reputation as a lock-down defender and unselfish passer, put heavy pressure on the Panthers backcourt, forcing steals and finding open passing lanes for his teammates against the 2-3 zone defense of Sheridan.
Schumacher swatted shots, fought for rebounds and used his 6-foot-6 frame to his advantage, demonstrating remarkable progression in his first year playing basketball, and proof of his hard work and dedication under Head Coach Austin Barth and Assistant John Hannahs.
“To win their last game at home is something they will always remember,” Barth said. “Those three have been great leaders … Ethan came such a long way this season, Jackson and Liam have been a part of this program and for them to come in and buy into a new coach and a new culture was a great example to set for the other players.”
The Big Horns and Panthers alternated scoring runs throughout the first quarter with the 2-3 zone of Sheridan proving troublesome early on for Lone Peak. By midway through the second quarter, Germain and sophomore Austin Samuels were slashing into the passing lanes to collapse the zone and free up outside shooters, getting the Big Horns rolling.
Junior Cole March had a career night, setting a school record by hitting six 3-pointers in the game. “He came close to breaking that record a couple times this year. For him to do it in the last home game was awesome to see,” Barth said.
Up 35-23 at the half, the Big Horns knew they still had a lot of game left and came out of the locker room fired up. Lone Peak proceeded to go absolutely ballistic on the Panthers in the third quarter, scoring 25 points from all over the court.
Wade battled inside, making a tough put-back shot, drawing a foul and converting the free throw, while sophomore Frankie Starz hit shots from the perimeter and off the dribble. Samuels and March added buckets along the way to an 18-2 run orchestrated in part by the calm and collected passing of Germain and junior guard Kolya Bough.
Up 60-36 at the start of the final quarter, reality began to sink in for the departing seniors as they played their final minutes on the court at Lone Peak High School. Students, parents and fans applauded the senior trio of Wade, Germain and Schumacher as they left the court after a timeout called with just over two minutes remaining in the game.
“All of these seniors were great to have on the team,” Barth said. “They did a great job being role models for the players coming up and I can’t wait to see what they go on to do after their time at Lone Peak.”
Results of the Feb. 15 District 11C Tournament Game against White Sulphur Springs were not available at EBS press time. Win or lose, the Lone Peak 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.