KP Hoffman clutch in win at Gardiner
Girls regain confidence following tough loss to Twin
With elk grazing on the football field outside the Gardiner High School gym, the lady Big Horns just kept feeding their senior leader KP Hoffman on the inside for a hard-fought win. The victory over the Bruins followed one of the worst defeats of the season the night before against Twin Bridges.
That’s why it was especially encouraging to see the Lone Peak girls match up well against Gardiner. They looked confident throughout, even after one of the team’s best ball handlers—Emma Flach—went to the bench with an injury and spent the rest of the game holding an ice pack to her leg. Luckily, backup guards Ruth Blodgett and Sara Wilson stepped in to fill Flach’s shoes.
At the start of the second half, Wilson drove through traffic and hit a layup to put the Big Horns ahead 31-27, which caused Gardiner to call a time out. Back in play, Lone Peak continued to pass the ball down low to Hoffman, who kept getting hacked by defenders. She’d go to the free throw line three times down the stretch, hitting six free throws and preserving the Big Horns’ lead.
On two consecutive possessions near the end of the third period, Gardiner left Solae Swenson wide open near the basket and she made them pay—sinking two easy buckets and causing the Gardiner coach to scream, “That’s too easy! Too easy!”
Heading into the final minutes, Blodgett nabbed a steal and Hoffman continued to penetrate and get sent to the line, where she didn’t miss.
The teams knotted up at 45-45 with :51 seconds left
and the hometown fans started stomping the bleachers and chanting: “Lay-Dee, Bru-Ins. Lay-Dee, Bru-Ins.”
None of it phased Hoffman, who drove and put Lone Peak ahead 47-45. The Bruins had a chance to tie it again from the free-throw line with under a minute left, but missed the second shot and Jayleen Cole grabbed a critical rebound.
She was then fouled and sealed the victory by sinking both foul shots as the Big Horns went on to win 51-46.
The victory felt particularly good because the night before, Lone Peak only managed to score 20 points against a dominant Twin Bridges team led by 6΄3˝ center Kailee Oliverson.
Out of breath and riding high on adrenaline from her clutch play against Gardiner, Hoffman said, “It feels really good. I think we used that loss last night to fuel this win. It feels really good to finish out this weekend on a win.”
When asked how she stayed so consistent from the foul line, Hoffman said, “I just think about putting them in.”