By Brandon Walker
BIG SKY – Lone Peak sophomore Maddie Cone scored a game-high 16 points in three quarters of play to help guide the Lady Big Horns past the White Sulphur Springs Hornets 41-39 in a tightly contested matchup at the Bough-Dolan Athletic Center on Jan. 26.
“Pieces of the puzzle are starting to come together,” said first year Lone Peak head coach Taylor Cummings. “[We’re] starting to look better all-around … They played a complete game together.”
Cone scored six of the team’s 10 first-quarter points, including a right-handed layup off a feed from senior Ivy Hicks following an offensive rebound to give LPHS an early 8-1 lead. The Hornets stung back, closing the gap to 8-7 after a 6-0 scoring run of their own. The teams traded baskets to end the quarter, leaving the Lady Big Horns with a one-point lead.
Due to foul trouble, Cone sat out the second quarter of play and LPHS missed the forward’s presence, according to Cummings. The Hornets took advantage offensively, outscoring the Lady Big Horns 16-7 in the quarter and staking themselves an eight-point lead at halftime, 25-17.
Coming out of the half, Cummings said LPHS implemented a new offensive method to combat the varying zone defenses the Hornets were throwing at them. “… We just went with an offense that kind of would go against any type of zone and also help us determine what exactly they were in,” she said.
The adjustment worked. The Lady Big Horns outscored the Hornets 18-7 in the third quarter thanks to six points from Cone, four from senior Lyli McCarthy and 3-pointers from both Hicks and sophomore Jessie Bough. The strong third quarter resulted in a three-point lead for LPHS as the teams entered the fourth in the close matchup.
The fourth quarter proved to be a defensive battle as both teams applied heavy pressure on and off the ball and neither reached double-figure scoring totals in the quarter. LPHS struck early, tying its largest lead of the game that came early in the first quarter, thanks to buckets from freshman Vera Grabow and Cone, to take a 39-32 edge.
Four consecutive points from the Hornets closed the gap to just three but coming out of a timeout with less than four minutes to play, Cone grabbed an offensive rebound under the basket and quickly laid the ball in for a five-point Lady Big Horn advantage.
Lone Peak was held scoreless the rest of the way, but thanks to a strong defensive effort, were able to outlast the Hornets. White Sulphur Springs drew to within two points with 33 seconds to play, but a last second shot from beyond the arc fell short, leaving the Lady Big Horns victorious.
Grabow and McCarthy each finished with six points and Hicks chipped in five for Lone Peak in the team’s first home win and its second overall in the young 2020-2021 season.
Kenzie Hereim paced the Hornets with a team-high nine points. The visitors also received strong contributions from Vickie Massee and Natalie Fisher, who scored eight points apiece.
LPHS now sports a 2-2 record this season and has won two consecutive matchups. The Lady Big Horns defeated Sheridan on Jan. 23 by 11 points after falling to Manhattan Christian and Twin Bridges to begin the year.
“I’m most excited about [the team] recognizing their potential and starting to string together complete games,” Cummings said.
Lone Peak is in action again on Jan. 28 when they’ll travel to face the Manhattan Christian Eagles. The Lady Big Horns return to the Bough-Dolan Athletic Center on Jan. 30 to host the Gardiner Bruins.