By Brandon Walker
BIG SKY – Lone Peak High School senior Jackson Lang scorched the nets at the Bough Dolan Athletic Center in the boys varsity basketball contest versus the Twin Bridges Falcons on Jan. 16. The Big Horns home opener resulted in a 67-55 defeat at the hands of the Falcons, but Lang set a new LPHS boys basketball record by hitting seven 3-point field goals in the game.
“I loved every minute of it,” said LPHS head coach John Hannahs. “Jackson has worked incredibly hard in the offseason every year and it was inspiring to see all of that pay off.”
Lang broke the record held by 2019 Lone Peak graduate Cole March, who knocked down six 3-point shots in a 2018 game against the Sheridan Panthers.
Lang finished with a game-high 27 points and kicked off his historic night in the opening quarter. He scored his first points of the evening after receiving an outlet pass from senior forward Nolan Schumacher. Lang surveyed the court as he advanced the ball over half court before accelerating past the Falcons defense and driving coast-to-coast for the right-handed layup.
On the following LPHS possession, the Big Horns patiently passed the ball around the 3-point arc. Away from the ball, Lang cut along the baseline to the arc in the corner where junior Tony Brester fed him a pass and he converted his first 3-point field goal of the night, en route to breaking the two-year record. The basket gave Lone Peak a 7-2 advantage with more than five minutes remaining in the quarter and prompted a Twin Bridges timeout.
Trailing 12-11 with time winding down in the first quarter, the Big Horns retained possession of the ball and looked to take the final shot before the break. This time Lang was on the giving end, assisting senior Mikey Botha, who knocked down a contested 3-point shot of his own to give the Big Horns a two-point lead after one quarter of play.
Approaching halftime, Lang hit his second 3-pointer of the contest, to knot the score at 30 apiece, when senior Michael Romney penetrated the lane and kicked it out to the sharpshooting guard. Lone Peak extended its lead to as many as six points in the second quarter, but Twin Bridges was able to keep things close and eventually seize a 32-30 edge at the half.
Lang made two more 3-point shots in the third and handed out another assist, this time to Brester for a fadeaway jumper with 3:52 remaining in the quarter to put the Big Horns ahead 41-38. But it was all Twin Bridges for the remainder of the third. The Falcons went on a 10-0 run to close out the quarter and take a seven-point lead as the teams entered the fourth.
“I think it is fair to say that game was within our grasp the whole time,” Hannahs said. “Their run in the third [quarter] hurt us, so if we had done a better job of stopping that, combined with a little extra time, who knows what could have happened.”
The Falcons opened up an 18-point lead, their largest of the game by a score of 64-46, in the late stages of the final quarter. Lang and the Big Horns kept fighting and closed out the game on a run of their own.
Down the stretch, Lang converted two of his three, 3-point baskets in the quarter helping LPHS end the game on a 9-3 run and close the gap to the final 12-point difference, with his final shot splashing through the net with just over three seconds remaining.
“It lifted everybody up and kept the game close,” Hannahs said. “He had the hot hand and everyone was on the lookout for him.”
Botha capped off his night with eight points and Romney added six for LPHS while playing on their homecourt for the first time this season.
With another balanced scoring attack behind Lang in the team’s second game of the season, Hannahs believes a new name could lead the team in scoring any night. “We have a lot of players that are scoring threats and capable of going off,” he said. “The balanced scoring gives me a lot of comfort.”
The Falcons were paced by Matthew Kaiser who finished with 21 points. Twin Bridges also received 16 points from Charlie Kruer and eight from Connor Nye.
“They are a really strong and well coached team,” Hannahs said. “They did a better job of capitalizing on our turnovers. I think that was the ultimate difference in the game.”
Hannahs and LPHS dropped to 0-2 on the season following the loss. Earlier in the day, the LPHS junior varsity boys basketball team fell to the Falcons junior varsity squad 44-36.