Bulldogs get déjà vu over Billings West and Lodge Grass
Last week, it was déjà vu all over again when the Bulldog varsity played two non-conference basketball games against Billings West and Lodge Grass.
Friday’s game versus Class AA Billings West left the Bulldogs with a 14-point loss. Saturday’s game against Class B Lodge Grass ended in an 88-58 Bulldog win, their second win against the team.
With these games completed, the Bulldogs’ overall Eastern Class A record changes to 12-4 with their conference record remaining the same at 6-2.
The Bulldogs played Billings Central on Tuesday and will host their last conference game on Feb. 20 against Miles City. The divisional tournament starts Feb. 25.
Friday’s game, a reschedule from Dec. 15, ended in favor of Class AA Billings West 76-62.
The first quarter ended in a 21-21 tie, a high first quarter score based on previous games.
“We moved the ball really well that first quarter,” said Head Coach Andrew Round Face. “We got everybody open and made [West] play defense a little bit longer than what we normally do.”
The second quarter found the Bulldogs at a 13-point deficit. Billings West scored an additional 24 points while the Bulldogs took in 11, going into halftime with the score at 45-32 in favor of Billings West.
“That kind of brought us down a bit, but [the Bulldogs] didn’t give up,” Round Face said. “It was tough, but overall we were happy. We just had to use that as a learning experience.”
After halftime, the score-per-quarter dropped by about 40 percent. The Bulldogs sank an additional 18 points while Billings West scored another 14 taking the numbers to 59-50 with Billings West still in the lead.
In the final quarter, the Bulldogs made an additional 12 points, 5 less than Billings West’s 17. Unable to retract the point shortage, the Bulldogs took their second loss from Billings West at 76-62.
“[West] slowed it down in the last four minutes of the game. “They started stalling on us,” Round Face said. “We had to start fouling so they could shoot and we could get the ball back.”
Unusually, with 23 total team fouls, Clarence Little Wolf and Beau Venne fouled out. Jalen Two Leggins was in danger of fouling out with four personal fouls.
Point leaders for the Bulldogs were Darnell Left Hand, Larry McCormick and Beau Venne. Left Hand finished the competition with 19 points and 14 rebounds – half of the team’s total rebounds. McCormick contributed 9 points with five rebounds and three assists. Venne finished with 8 points and one assist
Saturday’s game against the Lodge Grass Indians ended in an 88-58 Bulldog win.
The game started with the rivalry’s usual “run-and-gun” methods of play. The first quarter brought a 5-point Bulldog advantage with the score at 21-16.
“I don’t know what it was – it must have been the rivalry – but everybody was fired up,” Round Face said. “Everything was going in and everybody was working harder.”
Outscoring Lodge Grass by 25 points – 28-3 – the second quarter gave the Bulldogs a significant lead taking the halftime score to 49-19.
“We paid attention to what we were shooting and where we were shooting,” Round Face said. “Everybody knows their strengths, they know where their spots are and that’s where they went.”
In the third quarter, the Bulldogs were outscored by 1 point. Lodge Grass gained an additional 17 points while the Bulldogs added 16, taking the score to 65-36, a 29-point difference.
“We got in their heads right away, we forced them into turnovers and forced them to work for everything,” Round Face said. “We weren’t going to go [to Lodge Grass] and just have a ‘running-up-and-down-the-court contest’ with them.”
Both teams finished the final quarter with significant effort. The Bulldogs scored an additional 23 points, only 1 point more than Lodge Grass’ 22, taking the final score to 88-58 in favor of the Bulldogs.
“I told the [Bulldogs], ‘there’s a reason we’re so highly ranked, let’s go out there and show everybody why we’re ranked so high,’ and that just fired them up,” Round Face said.
Notably, 12 of the 14 Bulldogs who played made it onto the scoreboard with at least 2 points.
Darnell Left Hand, Clarence Little Wolf and Virgil McCormick attained the top three scores for the Bulldogs. Left Hand finished with 13 points, 15 rebounds and one assist: Little Wolf contributed 12 points, seven rebounds and one assist, and McCormick followed with 11 points, two rebounds and one assist.