jack rainey freelance writer
In the first LPHS home game since Dec. 17, rival West Yellowstone High School Wolverines brought more physical strength than Lone Peak High School Bighorns on Friday night.
The women’s team got off to a competitive start when senior Maddie Cone hit a 3-pointer to tie the game at 7 and breathe life into a packed stadium. That would be just three of the Big Horns. The Wolverines took control, leading 28-11 in the third quarter.
Down 36-17 early in the fourth quarter, the Big Horns seemed to be back on track with a series of layups from junior Astrid McGuire, senior Jessie Bough and Cone. However, it was too little, too late, as they only managed to close the gap to 14 points.
Villagrabo Jr., the leading scorer on Friday, eventually fouled out with a minute left in the game. Her departure was met with applause from the home crowd, a response to her strength, which head coach Loren Bove said was unmatched by most of her teammates.
“I think we’re at a disadvantage in the competition [West Yellowstone]… They play harder, get down on the ground more, grab more loose balls,” coach Bough said. “We seem to be playing slow and shooting fast. We didn’t shoot at full speed on the defensive end, but our shots were quick. That’s a really bad combination. “
Coach Bough said the girls needed to “think deeply” and reassess where they wanted to go.
“Of course it’s disappointing, unfortunately I can’t really say too many positive things about the game,” he said. “We can be a quality team when we need to, but we chose not to play tonight. As always [in this] big competition, [West Yellowstone] Ready to play and be more aggressive on the glass and on the loose ball. You can’t give it away in a big competitive game. “
On Thursday and Friday next week, they’ll try to get back home to host Shields Valley and visit Sheridan.
“We’ll see who shows up this weekend,” Coach Bough said. “We’re going to have a challenging week of practice to refocus the girls and we’ll see who comes out – the fast and aggressive fighters, or the other squads.”
Boys were flat in the second half
The Bighorn boys looked ready to play in the first half.
Senior captains Gus Hammond and Max Romney showed chemistry and composure inside, scoring 11 of 13 points as the first quarter ended in a 13-13 tie.
The No. 3 Wolverines stole the momentum in the second quarter, outscoring the Big Horns for a 30-22 lead.
After a heated team meeting during the timeout, the Bighorns refocused and scored the final five points in the first half before trailing 30-27.
The second half started with an extremely intense and fast-paced game that seemed to favor the Wolverines, who scored eight of their first 10 points.
Sophomore Isaac Bedway made three free throws and a layup, and the Bighorns scored just five of their seven points in the third quarter. The Wolverines, on the other hand, ran away with 27 points.
After Thursday night’s grueling but dominant win at the Twin Bridges, the Bighorns couldn’t keep pace with West Yellowstone in all four quarters Friday, head coach Al Malinowski told EBS. He said he saw the Bighorns give it their all despite the results.
“There’s no question we’ve got to get better at basketball,” he said. “The turnovers hurt us and the team knows … at some point you have to give West Yellowstone credit too. They were third in the state and in the third quarter they played like a ranked ball Team.”
Faced with a 23-point deficit at the start of the fourth quarter, the Big Horns needed a dramatic turnaround. Freshman Ebe Grabow created some hope, back-to-back 3-pointers — one from each corner — before senior Colter Marino assisted Hammond for a layup, and Max Romney finished one-on-one on both ends, Bedway He made his own three-pointer.
The Wolverines had just two layups in that game but held on to a 16-point cushion before scoring nine straight in a 76-52 win. Senior Tyler Hales finished with 27 points and 6-foot-7 senior Logan Kingston dominated the Wolverines’ rebounding.
Romney led the Bighorns with 17 points and 15 rebounds, and Malinowski pointed to him averaging a double-double, while Graber and Bedway were stepping up as young contributors.
“We will use [next week’s] games to improve and expand our depth so that when regional championship time comes, we’ll be playing our best basketball,” Malinowski said.
Lone Peak dropped to 6-3 and West Yellowstone improved to 5-1. Big Horns’ next games: Shields Valley at home on Thursday, Sheridan on the road on Friday.