It took overtime on Friday night, but the Class B Lodge Grass boys stunned Class A rival Hardin, 93-90, in overtime at First Interstate Arena at MetraPark.
Hardin had a 69-61 lead with just under four minutes to play that was wiped out by a Lodge Grass flurry. Hardin then led 76-73 with less than 90 seconds left in the fourth quarter, but Malachai Little Nest canned an NBA-range 3-pointer to tie the game. A Hardin triple put the Bulldogs back up three, but the Indians trimmed it to two on a free throw. Lodge Grass went to its big man to tie the game, as Jadence Archilta got a bucket inside to force the extra period.
The Indians jumped ahead quickly in the overtime period, as Ty Moccasin got a three-point play and Archilta finished inside on a backwards, over-the-head pass from Moccasin. Little Nest hit a dagger 3-pointer off the driblle with just over a minute to play, as the Indians would lead 90-86.
Hardin wouldn't go away, though, as a Troy Hugs had a three-point play opportunity with less than 10 seconds left. Hugs intentionally missed the free throw, which went out of bounds to the Bulldogs. A desparation 3 as time expired by Kevion Ladson clanged off the iron, as the Indians escaped with the win.
"Getting a win over Hardin, it's been a dream. It's like dang, man, what if we take out Hardin? Now we've done it. I'm just glad to be a part of it and step up and take a big role in that," Archilta said. "Beating Hardin wasn't our mountain top, that state title is where it's at. We just want to get that back-to-back."
Lodge Grass was playing without standout junior Damon Gros Ventre, who was in a walking boot after spraining his ankle on Friday night against Baker. The Indians knew they'd need others to pick up the scoring slack without their star, and they did just that.
Moccasin, who was out earlier this year due to COVID protocols, is finally working his way back into game shape, and it showed as he was able to break his defender down off the bounce several times. He still has some work to do, though, before he's back to where he wants to be.
"I'm not 100 percent, but I'll be there. I've got a long ways to go, but I'll be there," Moccasin said.
Moccasin and Little Nest each poured in 26 points, while Archilta added 23. Ladson had 23 to lead the Bulldogs.
"We don't just play one-man basketball, we play a team sport. Without (Gros Ventre), nothing is going to change, we're still playing as a team," Archilta said.
"We're dangerous. We've been playing since we were little kids. Even if (Gros Ventre) ain't out there, we can rely on each other. That's what (Gros Ventre) said even. We always can rely on each other and we're going to do good stuff without (Gros Ventre) on the court," Moccasin said.
Lodge Grass now turns its attention to Class B foe Huntley Project on Tuesday. Hardin will play Livingston next Friday.
The girls started the action off on Friday night. Hardin, coming off its first loss of the season, seemed to be sleepwalking the first five minutes of the game, as Lodge Grass raced out to a 21-3 lead.
"That was one of the things I really stressed, too, was that we had to come out and be focused and be intense and start out and set the tone. And then it was just the opposite," Hardin head coach Cindy Farmer said.
Hardin settled in thereafter, as the Bulldogs outscored the Indians 67-11 over the next 27 minutes to run away with a 70-32 win.
Aiyana Big Man sparked the Bulldogs, as she came off the bench and poured in 22 points, including breaking the seal early in the game.
"(Big Man) started lighting things up and that sort of carried over. Once we battled back, the pressure or whatever it was just took over," Farmer said.