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Big Horns to battle Wolverines in hoops rivalry

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‘Battle of 191’ rages on tonight

By Gabrielle Gasser EBS STAFF

Editor’s Note: Big Sky School District has adjusted tonight’s game times. This story has been updated to reflect that the girls varsity team plays at 5:30 p.m. and the boys varsity team plays at 7.

BIG SKY – Ever since Lone Peak High School opened its doors in 2009, the “Battle of 191” has been a classic rivalry as athletes from Big Sky compete against rival West Yellowstone on the field and on the court.

This evening, the LPHS boys and girls varsity basketball teams will host West Yellowstone at home in the Bough Dolan Athletic Center. In the first seven years of the matchup, the LPHS boys boasted a 15-1 record against West, losing just one game and by just one point. In the last four years, however, the Wolverines have a 7-4 record against the Big Horns.

During the 2020 season, both Lone Peak teams fell to West Yellowstone on their home court. In 2021, both Big Horn teams split versus the Wolverines. Tonight could be anyone’s game.

At 4 p.m. the JV boys take the court followed later by the varsity boys at 7. The Big Horns currently have a 2-6 record for the season and are headed into this game after a couple of tough defeats. 

On Jan. 17, 2020, then LPHS senior Austin Samuels (0) attempts a shot over a West Yellowstone defender. PHOTO COURTESY OF RICH ADDICKS

Big Horns varsity Head Coach John Hannahs said he has been working with his team to take better advantage of offensive possessions and find ways to score more consistently. But he added that the boys’ defense and tenacity are powerful weapons.

“We have been rebounding the ball well,” Hannahs said, “and it always amazes me just how much heart the boys play with. That is probably our greatest strength.”

Wolverines Head Coach Jeff Mathews also noted that his team needs to become more efficient on offense but complimented the Big Horns’ defensive play noting that it’s his team’s focus for the upcoming game.

“Our biggest thing is going to be on the defensive end playing good hard-nosed defense and finishing off possessions with rebounds,” Mathews said.

The Wolverines have a 4-4 record this season and Hannahs doffed his cap to his rivals. “They are very well coached and always well prepared,” he said.

Mathews added that the West Yellowstone – Lone Peak game is always a good one.

“Our league as a whole, it feels like everybody was young a couple years ago and everybody’s getting a little bit older and getting a little bit better,” he said, “so that’s fun to see.” 

Following the JV boys, the Lady Big Horns and Lady Wolverines will take the court at 5:30 p.m. in what promises to be a close game. The Lady Wolverines currently have one more win under their belt this season than the Lady Big Horns with a 5-4 record compared to Lone Peak’s record of 4-5.

The rivalry between these neighboring schools is made even more interesting by the fact that the Lady Wolverines Head Coach, Nubia Allen, coached the Lady Big Horns for three seasons leading the team to their first District Tournament win in 2017.

Now, in her fifth year coaching the Lady Wolverines, Allen says competing against the Lady Big Horns has become easier since the players she coached at Lone Peak have graduated.

LPHS junior Jessie Bough (10) shoots amidst four West Yellowstone defenders on Jan. 17, 2020. PHOTO COURTESY OF RICH ADDICKS

“I treat it like any other game, we want to show up, compete and get a W,” she wrote in an email to EBS.

To prepare for the game, Allen said her team watches film of their opponents to study player tendencies and learn the other team’s offensive and defensive strategies.

“Lone Peak plays hard,” she said. “They are a good team and have some athletic guards and strong posts. We are a young team with three upperclassmen. Our team is scrappy and plays hard on both ends of the floor.”

The Lady Wolverines will focus on executing baskets in the upcoming game, according to Allen, who added that their strong suit is defense. 

“West’s biggest strength is Coach Nubia Allen,” wrote LPHS Head Coach Loren Bough in an email to EBS. “She consistently has well-prepared teams that come ready to play.”  

Bough said a big focus for the Lady Big Horns in tonight’s competition will be containing West Yellowstone senior Emmie Collins, who has signed a letter of intent to play at Montana State University Billings and is one of the fastest players in the state.

To counter this, Bough said the Lady Big Horns will be focused on maintaining a fast-paced transition-style game. 

Both Hannahs and Mathews said that most of the athletes on the court tonight have played in this exciting rivalry game in both places.

“Our kids on both sides have been through it quite a bit and I think it’s a fun rivalry to be a part of,” Mathews said. “It’s fun to get the fan bases involved and hopefully we get a good game.”

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