By Brandon Walker
BIG SKY – The Lone Peak High School boys’ varsity basketball team rode a strong second half performance outscoring the White Sulphur Springs Hornets by 22 points after the break to win its second contest in a row.
A trio of seniors—Mikey Botha, Michael Romney and Jackson Lang—reached double-figure scoring totals to lead the Big Horns offensively and help the team win its first game at the Bough-Dolan Athletic Center this season 67-43.
“Our defense improved in the second half,” said Lone Peak Head Coach John Hannahs of his team’s performance. “We started to do a better job of anticipating and playing more disciplined defense eliminating fouls.”
LPHS came out of the gate with a flurry of buckets resulting in two separate 6-0 scoring runs, and an early 13-4 edge over the Hornets. White Sulphur Springs countered with a 6-0 run of their own to close the gap to just three points before Romney capped the first-quarter scoring by corralling an offensive rebound and laying up the ball, extending the Lone Peak lead to 15-10.
The second quarter proved to be troublesome for the Big Horns. After Lone Peak sophomore Gus Hammond converted a jump shot in the paint giving LPHS a 22-17 lead, the Hornets took control of the game.
With 2:09 remaining in the half, a White Sulphur jump shot gave them a 25-24 lead—its first of the night—and prompted a Big Horn timeout. The 9-0 run by the visitors was capped by a free throw to extend the Hornet lead to two points, but Lang later knocked down a 3-pointer off of a baseline inbounds pass from Romney to put Lone Peak back in front at the half 28-26.
Hannahs’ halftime remarks to his team were to the point: “It was short and sweet,” he said. “Just to play with a little more composure and look for better opportunities. We were playing anxiously and we just had to settle down a little.”
The teams traded baskets in a back-and-forth, seesaw battle for part of the third quarter. The Big Horns caught fire though and strung together a 12-0 scoring run, highlighted by the Romney brothers combining for a 3-point basket when Michael dished to sophomore Max, and Hammond followed with a trey of his own to put LPHS in front 43-31.
The Hornets added a bucket before the quarter came to a close to leave the Big Horns up 10 points entering the fourth.
Botha scored eight of his game-high 15 points in the fourth quarter, including two 3-pointers, to help keep Lone Peak in command. With 2:30 to play, White Sulphur Springs closed the gap to 12-points but that was as close as they would get.
Down the stretch, the Hornets tried to stay in the contest by fouling to send the Big Horns to the line, but LPHS converted a majority of its free throws and continue to grow its lead.
Michael Romney finished with a double-double: 13 points and 11 assists, while adding seven rebounds. With his 11 assists, Romney set another school record—he previously established a new single-game free-throw record on Jan. 23—breaking the previous mark of 10 set by LPHS graduate Kolya Bough on two separate instances in 2017. Lang ended his night with 11 points and senior Nolan Schumacher contributed seven points, seven rebounds and five steals.
“Any of these guys are capable of leading the team in scoring, and that was the most balanced offense we’ve had all year,” Hannahs said.
The Hornets were led by Caden West’s 14 points. Ethan Schlepp contributed 12 for White Sulphur Springs and Devon Novark scored 9.
The Big Horns’ second consecutive victory improved their record to 2-3 this season. They recently also defeated the Sheridan Panthers on Jan. 23 but fell in their two prior matchups with Manhattan Christian and Twin Bridges.
LPHS plays again Jan. 28 on the road at Manhattan Christian to face the Eagles. Two days later, on Jan. 30, LPHS returns home to host the Gardiner Bruins at 4 p.m.