By Jack Reaney STAFF WRITER
The rival West Yellowstone High School Wolverines brought greater physicality than the Lone Peak High School Big Horns on Friday night, in the first LPHS home games since Dec. 17.
The girls team got off to a competitive start, as senior Maddie Cone shot a three pointer to tie the game at 7, energizing the home side of the packed gymnasium. That would be the Big Horns only three. The Wolverines took control, racking up a 28-11 lead by the third quarter.
Facing a 36-17 deficit early in the fourth, the Big Horns appeared to get back on track with a series of layups by junior Astrid McGuire, senior Jessie Bough and Cone. However, it was too little, too late as they only managed to close their deficit to 14 points.
Junior Vera Grabow was Friday’s leading scorer, eventually fouling out with one minute remaining in the game. Her departure was met with applause from the home crowd, responding to her physical effort which head coach Loren Bough said was not matched by most of her teammates.
“I think we were out-competed by [West Yellowstone]. They played harder, got down on the ground more and grabbed more loose balls,” coach Bough said. “We seemed to play slow and shoot fast. We didn’t play at top speed on defense, but we were rushing our shots. That’s a really bad combo.”
Coach Bough said the girls need to have “a deep think” to reassess where they want to be.
“Certainly disappointing, and really not much positive I can say about the game, unfortunately,” he said. “We can be a physical team when we want to be, but we chose not to be tonight. As always [in this] big rivalry, [West Yellowstone] came ready to play and were much more aggressive on boards and on loose balls. You can’t give that up in a big rivalry game.”
On Thursday and Friday of next week, they’ll try to get back on track hosting Shields Valley and visiting Sheridan.
“We’ll see who turns up this weekend,” coach Bough said. “We’ll have a challenging week of practice to get the girls refocused, and we’ll see who turns up—the fast aggressive fighters, or the other squad.”
BOYS FALL FLAT IN THE SECOND HALF
In the first half, the Big Horn boys looked ready to compete.
Senior captains Gus Hammond and Max Romney showed chemistry and poise on the interior, scoring 11 of 13 points in the first quarter which finished at a 13-13 tie.
Romney broke the 500-point milestone Friday, now the eighth highest scorer in Lone Peak history with 514. Hammond moved into 10th with 341 points.
The No. 3 Wolverines stole momentum in the second quarter, outscoring the Big Horns to build a 30-22 lead.
After an intense team meeting during a time out, the Big Horns refocused and scored the final five points of the first half, then trailing 30-27.
The second half began with extremely physical and fast-paced play, which seemed to favor the Wolverines as they scored eight of the first 10 points.
Sophomore Isaac Bedway hit three free throws and a layup, scoring five of just seven total points for the Big Horns in the third quarter. The Wolverines, on the other hand, ran away with 27 points.
Head coach Al Malinowski told EBS that after an exhausting 58-41 win at Twin Bridges on Thursday night, the Big Horns couldn’t keep up with West Yellowstone’s pace for all four quarters on Friday. He said he saw a full effort from the Big Horns despite the outcome.
“No question we gotta do a better job taking care of the basketball,” he said. “Turnovers have hurt us and the team knows that… At some point you gotta give credit to west Yellowstone as well. They’re ranked third in the state, and in the third quarter they played like a ranked team.”
Facing a 23-point deficit to begin the fourth quarter, the Big Horns needed a dramatic turnaround. Freshman Ebe Grabow created some hope, draining back-to-back threes—one from each corner—before senior Colter Marino assisted Hammond for a layup, Max Romney executed both ends of a one-and-one and Bedway dropped a three of his own.
During that rally, the Wolverines scored only two layups but kept a 16-point cushion before scoring nine straight enroute to a 76-52 victory. Senior Taylor Hales finished with 27 points and 6-foot-7 senior Logan Kingston dominated the boards for the Wolverines.
Romney led the Big Horns with 17 points plus 16 rebounds, and Malinowski pointed out that he’s averaging a double-double, and that Grabow and Bedway are stepping up as young contributors. They combined for nearly half the team’s score with 23 points on Friday night.
“We’ll use [next week’s] games to improve and expand our depth, so that come district tournament time, we’ll be playing our best basketball,” Malinowski said.
Lone Peak’s record falls to 6-3 and West Yellowstone improved to 5-1. Next up for the Big Horns: Shields Valley at home on Thursday and Sheridan away on Friday.