By Brandon Walker
BIG SKY – The unmistakable sounds and smells of basketball season filled the Bough Dolan Athletic Center on Dec. 7 as the Lone Peak High School varsity girls took on the Absarokee Huskies to kick off their season.
Freshman Kate King scored the first points of the year for the Lady Big Horns to even the score at two in the early going. After that, LPHS began firing on all cylinders, especially with their team chemistry. Unselfish play led to every starter for Lone Peak scoring in the first quarter, taking an 18-6 lead into the first intermission much to the liking of LPHS head coach Loren Bough.
“With our lack of experience and youth, we were super nervous going into the game. Everybody from the coaches on down,” Bough said. “It was really a powerful first quarter. We put in, probably, more practices than any team in the state. It showed that first quarter. I think that built everyone’s confidence.”
The Lady Big Horns opened the second quarter on a 6-0 run, pushing their lead to 18. King scored six of her 10 points in the frame, leading the way for LPHS on offense. Absarokee narrowed the gap by winning the quarter 12-8 overall, making it a 26-18 Lone Peak lead at the half.
LPHS was in control as they entered the fourth with a nine-point edge, but the Huskies didn’t go quietly. On two separate occasions in the quarter Absarokee cut the lead to just three points. One of those instances came with only 24 seconds remaining in the game. Absarokee then committed a foul to stop the clock and Lone Peak junior captain Ivy Hicks found herself striding to the line for a 1-and-1 situation with the score standing at 44-41.
“Honestly, I was just trying to focus on [the fact] that we’ve done this in practice a million times. Just like practice honestly,” Hicks said when asked what was going through her mind as she stepped to the free throw line in a crucial situation.
She calmly sank the first free throw and after the second one rattled out, LPHS freshman Katrina Lang was there to scoop it up and lay it in, resulting in a 47-41 final score. “We showed some grit. I think probably everybody in the room thought when it was a three-point game that a bunch of freshman and sophomores were going to lose, and we pulled out a win,” Bough said.
A very balanced scoring attack for the Lady Big Horns was led by freshman Maddie Cone, who poured in a game-high 14 points. King had 10 points, sophomore Carly Wilson added eight, and Hicks finished with seven in the victory for LPHS.
“I think our chemistry is awesome—of course there’s stuff we can work on—but for our first game of the season I was amazed and so happy with how it ended,” Hicks said. The Lady Big Horns will square off with the Harrison-Willow Creek Wildcats in their next contest on Dec. 14.