By Brandon Walker
GARDINER, Mont. – A trio of Gardiner Bruins reached double figures on Feb. 9 to help their team defeat the Lone Peak Big Horns in Gardiner, 55-42.
Preston Roberts scored a game-high 15 points and Evan Guengerich and John McDonald each added 14 for the Bruins to complete a sweep of both their matchups against the Big Horns this season.
“I was feeling good [and] we definitely came out shooting,” said Lone Peak Head Coach John Hannahs. “The only thing that I knew was coming was that [inevitably] we were going to go cold at some point, and that happened in the third quarter and they took advantage of that which hurt us.” He added that the Big Horns can’t rely solely on 3-pointers and needed to find methods to score other than from beyond the arc.
Embarking on their trip to Gardiner meant the Big Horns were taking the court for the third time in four days, having hosted Lima on Feb. 6 and Ennis on Feb. 8 resulting in a win and a loss, respectively. Senior Jackson Lang scored 20 points and fellow senior Nolan Schumacher added 17 to propel LPHS over Lima 62-52.
Then, in a rescheduled matchup with Ennis, the Mustangs topped the Big Horns 64-42. Schumacher (13 points) and Lang (nine points) both had strong showings in that games as well, and Lone Peak also received 10 points from Mikey Botha.
Playing on the road where the Big Horns sport a 2-4 record this season including the outcome of this contest, Lone Peak started strong from beyond the 3-point arc. Lang knocked down three 3-pointers in the first quarter and sophomore Colter Marino added another to help LPHS grab an early 14-10 lead.
Gardiner fought back in the second, thanks in part to seven points from Roberts in the quarter, to outscore Lone Peak by five and enter halftime with a slim, one-point advantage.
A tough third quarter slowed the Big Horns and allowed the Bruins to jump out to a double-digit lead. LPHS was limited to six points, while Gardiner put up 18 of their own and increased their lead to 13. Gardiner’s McDonald and Roberts combined for 14 of those points in the quarter.
The teams finished the final quarter of play in a stalemate, matching one another with 16 points apiece, and the Big Horns were unable to make a comeback.
Neither team reached double-digit free-throw attempts but both shot 50 percent or better on the night. Gardiner held a slight edge, finishing 60 percent as a team, or three-for-five, while LPHS converted four of their eight chances at the line.
In total, the Big Horns knocked down eight 3-pointers against the Bruins and were led offensively by Botha, who finished with a team-high 10 points on the night. Schumacher and Lang each accounted for nine points for LPHS, while freshman Juliusz Shipman scored five.
Hannahs praised junior forward Tony Brester, who he saw looking for shots and helping Lone Peak by grabbing rebounds.
Sitting four games under .500 at 4-8 overall this season, Lone Peak is on track to play its final regular season contest on Feb. 11, when they’ll host the West Yellowstone Wolverines for Senior Night. The Big Horns have four seniors on their roster to honor this season.
“I’m excited to see some special things from our seniors and I’m excited for the atmosphere of West Yellowstone,” Hannahs said of the rivalry.
Following that matchup, LPHS will turn its attention to the district tournament slated for Feb. 17-20. COVID-19 precautions have led to the tournament following a similar structure of fall athletics, where higher seeds will host playoff contests rather than playing at a singular, neutral location.