RED LODGE — Huntley Project's Noah Bouchard saved his best for last, scoring with 1.8 seconds left to push the Red Devils past Red Lodge 53-52 in Class B boys basketball action on the road on Friday night.
Trailling 52-49 with less than a minute to play, Project was forced to foul Red Lodge to keep its hopes of winning alive. Red Lodge's Corby Mann missed two free throws, allowing the Red Devils to pull within one on a pair of free throws from Tim Rose.
Again, the Red Devils had to foul, this time sending Jay Jetmore to the line. But once again, the Rams missed both free throws. Bouchard calmly brought the ball up floor before accelerating hard to his left then spinning back to his right and muscling through some contact to score.
"They tell me get to the rim because that's what I'm best at," Bouchard said. "I'm trying to think, get to the rim, get fouled or get an easy layup instead of just pulling up for a 3."
Bouchard, who has been playing with a heavy heart after the passing of his grandmother and head coach Mark Branger's wife, found it therapeutic to get back out in his element.
"I know she's up there smiling down at me. It's so nice to come out here. I love the sport. I knew she loved the sport for me. It's really nice to come out here, get my mind off things and just practice and play the game I love," Bouchard said.
For the majority of the first half, Red Lodge was able to do whatever it wanted on offense, building a 35-27 halftime lead. Project put the clamps down on the Rams in the second half, opening the third quarter on an 8-0 run to tie things up. Neither team led by more than three after that.
"(Branger) came in to the locker room (at halftime) and said, 'Lock in. We're a new team than the last few years. We've got to show that (Friday),'" Bouchard said.
Bouchard had 23 points to lead all scorers, showing off his ability to put the ball in the hole from anywhere on the floor. Trey Allen led Red Lodge with 20 points.
The Red Lodge girls made quick work of Huntley Project in the nightcap, as the Rams raced out to a 20-point halftime lead, 36-16.
The Rams pushed their lead to 48-18 entering the fourth quarter on their way to a 65-27 win over the Red Devils.
Big games await Huntley Project, as they'll play Columbus and Lodge Grass next week. Red Lodge has a date with Roundup on Saturday.