Friday, February 23, 2018

Hardin Bulldogs place first in six of ten top team categories

hardin high School basketball wrap-up
The 2015-16 basketball season has concluded for the Hardin Bulldogs. After competing in 21 games, the varsity team finished second place in the Eastern/Central Class A divisional tournament and have earned a large number of top-level placements.
“It was good showing the boys that it did pay off. Even though we weren’t champions, we beat almost everybody statistic-wise,” said Head Coach Andrew Round Face. “That was good to show them and let them know that it wasn’t for nothing.”
The Eastern A teams from first to sixth – with their overall records – are as follows: Miles City: 16-5, Billings Central: 13-9, Hardin: 14-7, Laurel: 11-11, Sidney: 9-13 and Glendive: 9-10.
“We have a lot of great shooters back this year, but our weakness is our defense,” Round Face said in a pre-season interview, “It’s always been our weak point, and I’m working to change that.”
At the end of the season, he feels the team has accomplished this goal. 
“Our defense has turned around tremendously,” he said, “but there’s still room for improvement.”
Also, with the end of the season, Round Face completed his first year as head coach.
“Taking a step back and looking at everything we accomplished, I think it was a great year,” he said. “Ultimately, we didn’t get our state title, but for us making it that far, it was amazing.
“A lot of coaches and students don’t get that chance to make it to state, and knowing that we did it - and it just happen to be my first year - that is a huge accomplishment for us.”
This season, the team introduced nine new players to the varsity team: Virgil McCormick, Holman RealBird, Steffan Walks Over Ice, Cordell Bird, Jerah Cummins, Devin Spotted Horse, Jerrin Whiteman, Eli Rides Horse and Kyle Spotted Horse. Larry McCormick, Clarence Little Wolf, Beau Venne and Jalen Two Leggins were the four players who returned. 
“This was pretty much a brand new team for everybody,” Round Face said, “so, we did pretty well for having a new team at the varsity level. But, Larry and Clarence didn’t lack in leadership.”
Ten of the 14 Bulldogs are seniors and will not return to the team next year. Left Hand, Walks Over Ice, Real Bird and McCormick, Round Face said, will most likely return next year.
Round Face’s most memorable moment was beating Miles City at divisionals. Because the team had beaten them three different times, overcoming was “a huge challenge.”
“It was just something that always bugged us, because we knew we could beat them,” Round Face said. “We knew we had everything it took to beat them but we just couldn’t do it in the season.
“Meeting them at divisionals and beating them there was a huge weight lifted off of our shoulders.
“It’s going to be hard for us to get back to that same level. Now I have even bigger shoes to fill next year with achieving the same level of success or even better.”
In previous years, Round Face was unable to keep and play Kyle Spotted Horse due to a disability. This year, Spotted Horse was allowed to play on the team. 
“He’s just been, tremendously all joy to have,” Round Face said. “We’d be in the locker room [for example] having a serious discussion, down at half, coming up with a different game plan and when we do our break, he said, ‘I can’t win this all by myself.’
“He was truly the heart and soul of our team. It was just amazing to have him with us. He’s always been, almost, our spiritual leader. I just want people to know that he’s an incredible person, he just gave me a whole different point-of-view on life.”
Notably, Spotted Horse was the sole Bulldog to have perfect attendance in the program.
“He wouldn’t even think about a layup, other teams would step out of the way but he wouldn’t do a layup. If he was gonna score, it was gonna be a 3-pointer,” Round Face said. “Sometimes he would stop 5, 6 feet away from the 3-point line and throw it up and it would go in. It just shows you there’s a lot more important things than just basketball in life. Seeing the joy in him truly makes your heart warm up.”
Six Bulldog players made their way into the “Class A boys basketball Top-10”, which is a listing of the top 10 individuals based on various categories. Ranks above 10th place are a result of ties. Hardin’s ranks are as follows:
Individual 3-point field goal – 4th place: Little Wolf; 26/87. 5th place: McCormick, L.; 25/71
Individual 2-point field goal – 2nd place: Darnell Left Hand; 66/143. 3rd place: Beau Venne; 65/148
Individual combined field goal – 3rd place: Left Hand; 77/168. 5th place: Venne; 78/184. 7th place: Little Wolf; 71/190
Individual free throw percent – 4th place: Left Hand; 76.6%. 7th place: McCormick, L.; 73.91%
Individual total points – 4th place: Left Hand; 201. 6th place: Venne; 207. 7th place: Little Wolf; 200
Individual rebounds – 1st place: Left Hand; 142. 10th place: Venne; 83
Individual blocks – 2nd place: Venne; 18. 5th place: McCormick, L.; 8
Individual steals – 1st place: Venne; 30. 3rd place: Little Wolf; 26. 5th place: McCormick, V.; 24. 5th place: Left Hand; 21
Individual assists – 6th place: Little Wolf; 45
Also, in the Eastern A conference, the six teams – as a whole – were ranked in identical categories. Hardin’s ranks are as follows:
Team 3-point field goal – 1st place: 120/408
Team 2-point field goal – 1st place: 312/729
Team combined field goal – 1st place: 432/1137
Team free throw – 2nd place: 184/286
Team point difference per game – 2nd place: Bulldogs – 1168; Opponents – 1001; Difference – 167
Team rebounds – 1st place: 567
Team blocks – 1st place: 41
Team steals – 1st place: 186
Team assists – 5th place: 172
Team charges – 3rd place: 11