By Brandon Walker
BIG SKY – In front of a raucous crowd—complete with the Lone Peak High School band performing during intermissions—the Bough-Dolan Athletic Center was filled to capacity on Jan. 17 as the LPHS varsity boys basketball team took on their crosstown rival, the West Yellowstone Wolverines, in a heavily anticipated matchup for both sides. The Wolverines pulled out a hard-fought victory, 72-55.
Regarding the rambunctious crowd, Lone Peak senior guard Frankie Starz felt it helped fuel his teams inspired play. “It was awesome. It definitely got us pumped up as a team … other games we didn’t really have the energy, but that crowd gave us the energy to score—I think that was our season high in points,” Starz said.
The Big Horns came out ready for a battle, scoring and defending with an intensity reminiscent of a team that was 8-0 instead of 0-8. Starz scored eight of his game-high 21 points in the first quarter, including two 3-pointers late to keep the game close. West Yellowstone was able to persevere and grab an 18-15 lead at the first break.
LPHS put on a defensive clinic for over five minutes to begin the second, holding the Wolverines scoreless until the 2:44 mark of the quarter. Big Horn senior Nick Brester led the charge, finishing with three blocks and three steals, including an emphatic block in the quarter that brought the crowd to their feet. In the interim, the Big Horns only mustered four points of their own to bring the score to 22 apiece before West Yellowstone found the bottom of the net. Big Horn senior Austin Samuels knocked down a key 3-point shot with 1:28 left before halftime to slow the Wolverines’ momentum and make it just a two-point game, but a short flurry by the Wolverines followed, giving them a 32-25 halftime advantage.
Early in the third, the Wolverines widened the gap, going on a 10-0 run and taking a 15-point lead. A pair of free throws from Starz halted the run, but Lone Peak would fail to cut the gap to less than 12 for the remainder of the quarter. Starz had a lay-in called off due to an offensive foul that would’ve made it a 10-point game with only seven seconds remaining in the quarter. Instead, a four-point swing ensued with Wolverine junior Aidan Brown scoring as time expired to give West Yellowstone a 52-38 lead after three quarters of play.
A Samuels lay-up with seven minutes to go in the fourth cut the gap to 10, but that was as close as the Big Horns would get. The Wolverines offense was unrelenting, putting up 20 points in the quarter to seal the game.
“These guys love playing their rival West Yellowstone, we always play well against that team,” Lone Peak head coach John Hannahs said following the game. “We were well prepared, and they had pumped themselves up all week for it.”
LPHS junior Michael Romney believes this is only the beginning of what is yet to come for the team. “Honestly, I don’t think any of us surprised ourselves with how well we played. We’ve been saying all year that we have more to give and that we’re a darn good team and I think we just started to show it. We’re only going to get better, too,” he said following the loss.
Starz shot an impressive 50 percent from the field, leading all scorers and added five rebounds to his performance. Samuels finished with 11 points and two steals, while Romney added 11 points of his own and dished out five assists for the Big Horns.
Wolverine senior Parker Young came one rebound shy of a double-double, finishing with a team-high 20 points and nine rebounds. Close behind Young in the scoring column was senior Mac Hauck. Hauck compiled 19 points, four steals, and four assists, while fellow senior Sam Coffin added nine points and nine rebounds in the win for West Yellowstone.
Lone Peak falls to 0-9 on the season with the loss.
Box Score Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Total
Lone Peak 15 10 13 17 55
West Yellowstone 18 14 20 20 72
Lone Peak: Frankie Starz 21, Austin Samuels 11, Michael Romney 11, Nolan Schumacher 7, Gray Gitchell 5
West Yellowstone: Parker Young 20, Mac Hauck 19, Sam Coffin 9, Jackson Gospodarek 8, Black Loomis 6, Kyle Watt 4, Taylor Hales 2, Aidan Brown 2, German Vazquez 2