Post season continues for Lady Horns
LPHS takes second in Churchill
The Lady Big Horns are headed to Divisionals in Hamilton, where they face Twin Bridges. LPHS advances, thanks to inspiring play from Jayleen Cole, Emma Flach, KP Hoffman and other standouts.
Against Gardiner in the opening game of the District 11C tournament—in which the Horns took second—Cole sank five three-pointers. Combined with Flach’s quickness and Hoffman’s confidence in the paint, Cole’s poise from behind the arc made it look like LPHS was in control of the game from start to finish—even when Gardiner tied it up at the end of the third period.
That’s when LPHS received a game-changing boost from the bench. Sara Wilson outsmarted the Lady Bruin defense, springing free and hitting an easy bucket to take the Horns ahead 29-27.
Then in the final period, sophomore Brooke Botha commandingly blocked a shot in the paint, which seemed to shift the momentum of the game in the final minutes. Ivy Hicks snatched a clutch steal and Solae Swenson continued to own the backboard, pulling down 16 rebounds.
Up in the stands, the voice of super fan Linda Cole could be heard throughout the tournament, shouting, “Box out! Box out!”
LPHS players listened, making the most of rebounding and good foul shooting to help push them past Gardiner 43-36, and then Shields Valley in the second round 46-42.
That placed Lone Peak in the final game against Manhattan Christian, a team that entered the finals undefeated in play against every other team at the tournament.
Manhattan Christian High School in Churchill is a great tournament host. There’s a home team volunteer mascot in a full-body eagle suit and a magnificent concessions stand with a generously plated baked potato dinner special. This is the land of plenty, especially when it comes to Class C players over six feet tall.
Manhattan Christian likes to pack three of its tallest players down on the baseline to create an effective zone defense. It then dispatches the guards to smother three-pointer attempts by shooters like Cole.
This strategy worked for MCHS in the final game, causing LPHS three-specialist Cole to go just 2 of 17 from behind the arc.
Everyone in the near capacity crowd knew the Lady Big Horns were the underdog. That’s why the crowd went wild, when in the first half of the district final, the Horns outplayed the Eagles, consistently hitting free throws and applying tenacious defense.
At the end of the first half against MCHS, Cole cut the Eagle lead to just five by hitting three foul shots. Big Horn fans kept this in mind when in the second half, Manhattan Christian pulled away, winning easily 53-37.
After posing for photos with the second-place district tournament trophy, Cole said, “I’m happy, this is my first year making it to Divisionals. There is some stuff we should have done better. But we beat two good teams to play against a really good team.”
Now it’s on to Hamilton, where Cole hopes her three-point dominance returns. LPHS will need it, along with rebounding from Swenson, inside post play from Hoffman, slashing to the basket from Flach, and lots of hustle from Botha, Wilson, Hicks, Reilly Germain and Ruth Blodgett.