Senior Cole March pulls off a seriously modified pushup during the Feb. 2 game against Manhattan Christian.Senior Solae Swenson looks past the competition during the Feb. 2 game against Manhattan Christian.

Eyeing districts

Big Horns’ final home games proved challenging
Big Horns varsity boys Coach Brian Van Eps said the season has been a year of learning and small victories, “because our record isn’t phenomenal.” He said they’ve built on little things all season. It all comes down to districts, he said, explaining that his team will take on the top two teams out of districts into divisionals. 

It’s safe to say no one in the “know” when it comes to Big Horns basketball was looking forward to the games against the Manhattan Christian Eagles. One parent, who wanted to remain anonymous – said, “Maybe we’ll beat them – one of these years.”

There’s no denying Manhattan is a stacked team. The Feb. 2 home game for the Big Horn varsity boys consisted of three slam-dunks from Manhattan Christian Eagles 6’6” senior Caleb Bellach, who reportedly is set to play for the Wildcats next year. 

Still, the Big Horn boys held their own in the first quarter, maintaining a five-point gap before the second with a score of 13-18, the Eagles ahead. Then, things began to slip: the score at the half was 20-46 and the final 34-70.

“I feel like in the first quarter we came out hot. The seniors really picked up the pace for us. Pressure got to us and a lot of turnovers cost us the game,” junior Frankie Starz said. “I think Austin [Samuels] played well. If everyone would have played like him, we probably would have won. The other team was just skilled.” 

Big Horns varsity boys Coach Brian Van Eps said the season has been a year of learning and small victories, “because our record isn’t phenomenal.” He said they’ve built on little things all season. It all comes down to districts, he said.

“It’s like March madness in February,” said Van Eps. “Games can be much different than in regular season. We’ve had a lot of close games this year that were within 1-2 possessions. This is going to help us.” 

Van Eps said he’s proud of the young men: “Kolya Bough is just a phenomenal player and great young man. Austin Samuels is the surprise of the season. He’s averaging double digits. He’s playing really well. He had four [three-point shots] tonight.” 

The Lady Big Horns had a tough game as well with the final score 28-57, losing to the Eagles. 

Despite dealing with ahairline fracture in one of her fingers and dislocated the other Solae Swenson played – her fingers still injured and taped. She played a bit in the Jan.31 home game the night prior, but started off all-out battling against the Manhattan Christian Eagles on Feb 1. by securing the first basket for the lady Big Horns in the game.

“They’re a tough team. There’s no denying that, but I thought all of us worked really hard that game. We could have picked it up in the second half, there was kind of a little slump there, but overall, I think we worked really well as a team. We have been getting into foul trouble a little bit, but we’ve been picking it up, keeping our composure. I think we did that pretty well today,” senior Brooke Botha said of her final home game with Lady Big Horns basketball. 

Coach Ausha Cole said she believed the girls had a good game defensively, but struggled on the board, giving the Eagles too many opportunities underneath the basket. 

“Other than that, I thought we played an excellent game. That’s a really good team. I thought we rose to the occasion even though it was a 30-point game at the end, I still think we had a really good game,” she said, noting the team’s challenges with injuries, confidence and composure. 

“As a group, it’s been up and down all season. I’m proud of our seniors and the fact they have been leading the team,” she said. “Emma [Flach] and Carly [Wilson] especially had a really good game today. I’m just really proud of the team.”

Ivy Hicks, with a partially dislocated shoulder, is likely out for the rest of the regular season which ends Feb. 9 with an away game in Sheridan.

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