By Dan Kelly EBS Contributor
BIG SKY – After losing to Shields Valley 45-27 on Jan. 25, the Lone Peak Lady Big Horns bounced back against the Gardiner Bruins the following night with a 53-43 victory at Lone Peak High School.
Senior forward K.P. Hoffman scored 24 points in the contest, just one point shy of the school record. Freshman guard Ivy Hicks had a breakout performance adding 9 points for Lone Peak in a game that saw all nine players for the Big Horns log playing time.
“K.P. is easily one of the best posts in our conference, having the potential to score 20-plus points every time she steps on the court. She is really good at creating her own shot inside and making the defense pay at the foul line,” said Lone Peak coach Ausha Cole.
The Bruins jumped out to an early lead of 10-5, but as leading scorer Hoffman and her teammates settled into their offense, they quickly drew even, aided by baskets from sophomore guard Emma Flach and senior guard Jay Cole. A steal by junior forward Solae Swenson led to a basket by Cole early in the second quarter, resulting in a 17-16 lead that the Lady Big Horns would not relinquish for the rest of the game.
Lone Peak shot an impressive 84 percent from the free throw line in comparison with Gardiner’s 57 percent. Coupled with a solid rebounding performance and steadily improving ball movement, the Lady Big Horns were able to minimize second chance points by the Bruins while maximizing their opportunities for high percentage shots.
As the first half drew to a close, the Bruins clawed their way back within three points, buoyed by baskets from leading scorers Brooke Russell and Megan Wickham. Russell sunk a team-high 18 points for the Bruins. Hoffman again answered for Lone Peak, scoring a basket to bring the game 29-24 going into half-time.
Stretching the lead to 34-24 early in the third quarter with two free throws by Hoffman and a three-pointer by Cole, the Lady Big Horns would keep the Bruins at arms-length for the rest of the game. Cole had 8 points, six of which were scored in the third.
Junior Brooke Botha showcased her improvement this year with Coach Cole at the helm. She had a critical rebound followed by a key basket on the next possession to keep the Bruins at bay with 4:25 remaining in the game.
“Friday night the team did an excellent job and wanted to win that game,” Coach Cole said. “They all showed up prepared and ready to play. Our intensity was great throughout and it never really dropped.”
As the clock wound down to the final seconds, the score stood in favor of Lone Peak, 53-43.
The Lady Big Horns are currently in third place in District 11C, with a district record of 4-3 and overall record of 6-5. Manhattan Christian (7-0, 10-6) is in first place and Shields Valley (4-2, 7-5) holds the second-place spot.
Lone Peak plays Manhattan Christian at home on Feb. 2, followed by away games at Twin Bridges on Feb. 3, and West Yellowstone on Feb. 8. The Lady Big Horns are back at LPHS on Feb. 9 for a Senior Day game against Sheridan.
Visit bssd72.org/athletics/ for a complete season schedule.