By Dan Kelly EBS Contributor
BIG SKY – The Lady Big Horns played their final game of the season on Feb. 23, after a strong post-season run.
Lone Peak played their way into the divisional tournament, beating Gardiner 43-36 on Feb. 15, followed by a victory over Shields Valley the next night, 46-42, advancing to the District 11C Finals against Manhattan Christian. Lone Peak couldn’t get the win against the heavily favored Eagles, host of the districts this year, losing 53-37, but still secured their place in the next round of tournament play.
The girls traveled to Hamilton, Montana, on Feb. 22, to face the Twin Bridges Falcons, a fierce team that beat the Lady Big Horns 59-27 on their way to the State Tournament.
Moving into the consolation bracket, the Lady Big Horns were vanquished by the Alberton-Superior Mountain Cats on Feb. 23, in their final game of the season.
Lone Peak ended the year on a high note despite tough losses at divisionals, advancing out of districts from the 3-seed position and playing their best basketball of the year in the post-season.
“This team did a great job of doing what was asked of them and they all did everything to the best of their ability,” said Coach Ausha Cole. “I threw a lot of new plays and defenses at them and they executed everything very well. I’m just proud of their fight and drive.”
Senior forward K.P. Hoffman has signed with Miles Community College and will continue to play at the collegiate level, a first for the Lady Big Horns. Senior guard Jay Cole hopes to do the same, and is currently exploring playing opportunities for colleges in her home state of Missouri.
With Cole at the point and Hoffman on the post, both departing seniors demonstrated great leadership throughout the season and, at its close, Hoffman reflected on her high school experience.
“My four years as a part of the Lone Peak basketball program have been some of my most fond memories of high school,” Hoffman said. “To end it at the divisional tournament with an amazing team and great coach is very fitting.”
Lone Peak has a lot to look forward to next season after a strong start to Coach Cole’s position at the helm of the Lady Big Horns, returning three starters, junior Solae Swenson, sophomore Emma Flach and freshman Ivy Hicks. They will be joined by junior forward Brooke Botha and the freshman trio of Ruth Blodgett, Reilly Germain and Sara Wilson, all of whom were key contributors as they clocked more time on the court as the season progressed.
“I love seeing the bright spots from everyone, it’s very rewarding and exciting when players give their all and you are able to see it,” Coach Cole said.
Looking to build on the success of this season, and a consecutive trip to divisionals, the Lady Big Horns will be a force to be reckoned with next year in District 11C. Coach Cole recognizes her team’s potential and anticipates a strong showing next season.
“Next year we have a very strong squad coming back,” she said. “Our freshman gained a lot of experience and have seen what it takes to make it to divisionals. I am proud of the team’s determination and [the] work ethic they displayed throughout the season.”