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Big Horns slide to state consolation bracket 

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The Big Horns fell in a physical game against Broadus. PHOTO BY JASON BACAJ

Captains still looking to ‘bring some hardware home’ 

By Jack Reaney STAFF WRITER 

BILLINGS—The scoreboard reflected back-and-forth basketball in the first quarter during Lone Peak High School’s first-ever state tournament appearance, but the Big Horns couldn’t keep their momentum and fell 66-38 to the Broadus High School Hawks. 

The Hawks offered no second chances in their third-straight appearance at state as they flew out of reach with 27 fourth-quarter points. With their win, Broadus advanced to the state semifinal to face the Big Sandy High School Pioneers, and the Big Horns will face the Lustre Christian Lions as they launch their campaign for third place in the consolation bracket.  

Lone Peak’s all-time leading rebounder Max Romney helped the Big Horns out-rebound the Hawks by 11.5% on both offense and defense, but the Big Horns suffered from an effective field goal percentage of just 33.7%—to their opponent’s 57.4%—and surrendered 21 turnovers which the Hawks converted into 25 points.  

Broadus had size and experience on their side. Six-foot-five senior Dillon Gee dominated the paint with 19 points, splitting the bucket duties with fellow senior Marcus Mader, who scored 19 of his own.  

Dillon Gee elevates above Max Romney in the tip-off. PHOTO BY JASON BACAJ

“I think we learned that the top eight teams in the state are the best eight teams in the state,” said Lone Peak senior captain Gus Hammond, who led the Big Horns in scoring with 12 points. “All these teams are here for the same thing we are: to get that state championship. We can’t underestimate anybody, everybody’s pretty good out here.” 

Head coach Al Malinowski pointed out that Gee made an impact on the game defensively, using his size to throw off the Big Horns’ shooting. But in general, he said, the Big Horns bright spots were overshadowed by their poor shooting.  

Sophomore Isaac Bedway, known for his offensive versatility, shot one-for-seven from the field, scoring only two points on a short jumper. Senior Captain Max Romney was three-for-13, scoring seven. Junior Juliusz Shipman scored 10, including a pair of timely 3-pointers—but three attempts missed.  

“I think [Broadus] showed some experience in there,” Malinowski said. “This is their third straight season making state. Not that that’s an excuse, but they were a poised team, guys that have been here before. I’m still proud of my guys—it was a six-point game at halftime, 12 at the end of the third. It was right there.” 

Freshman Ebe Grabow steals the ball in the first half. PHOTO BY JASON BACAJ

Entering the fourth quarter trailing 39-27, Malinowski said the Big Horns attempted to apply pressure and force turnovers to close the gap. That effort failed, instead feeding the Hawks with scoring opportunities in transition.  

“They played a really high level of basketball,” said Romney, also a senior team captain. “We just have to figure out how to get rid of those mental lapses that ended up costing us the game. Little mistakes that would cause two- or four-point runs. We just gotta be mentally more locked in.” 

“The game was there. We just weren’t able to get it done,” Malinowski said. He added that it was good for bench players to get state experience in the final minutes, especially considering the starting five’s lack of any experience beyond the district tournament in seasons prior.  

Both Romney and Hammond commented on how fortunate the Big Horns are to play in the state tournament. Despite the outcome, they both said it’s a fun experience.  

No strangers to the chopping block 

Malinowski said it’s an accomplishment to be one of the final eight teams in Class C, and they most likely made it this far due to learning experiences throughout the season. Regrettable losses, he said, can be an ingredient in future success.  

“Good news is, there’s probably no team that’s experienced the win-or-go-home as much as we have already, with six games under our belt that we’ve been able to win,” he said.  

Romney said they’ve played some of their best basketball in the past couple weeks when the Big Horns are on the chopping block.  

“We’re not done yet. We’ve got some big games in the next couple days. We know how tough the competition’s gonna be, and we know we’ve gotta play better than we just did. I’m excited,” he said.  

With their consolation campaign beginning Friday at 11 a.m., Malinowski said they’ll need to put Thursday’s loss behind them, quickly.  

“Getting a win at state would be a huge accomplishment tomorrow,” he said. “That’s still a goal of ours and an opportunity for us.” 

Hammond said the Big Horns have their sights set on third place, “so we can bring some hardware home for our fans and the community. Every game we’re gonna play hard and prove something, hopefully.” 

Romney makes a double-clutch layup effort in the first half. PHOTO BY JASON BACAJ

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