WORDEN — Lodge Grass built a first-half lead over Huntley Project and never looked back on Friday night, as the Indians defeated the Red Devils in Southern B boys basketball action, 66-58.
Playing short-handed and with guys making their first appearance of the season, there's plenty for the Indians to continue to work on.
"We've been, like every team, we've been affected by COVID. We've had players just returning, Ty Moccasin and Kendall Russell. (Russell) didn't get any minutes (Friday), but he's coming back from COVID and he's going to be getting his minutes. He's a big role player for us, so to be able to do that without him -- he brings a lot of depth. His defense, on-ball defense, everything is tough," Lodge Grass head coach Josh Stewart said. "It's not just us, it's every team. It's affecting everybody. I know it's hit Huntley and Colstrip, every team, really. So, I think if we just continue to stay safe, follow all the guidelines and do everything we're supposed to we'll build to where we want to be come postseason."
Lodge Grass stretched its lead near double digits by halftime, 34-26, after putting an impressive second-quarter run together that saw standout junior Damon Gros Ventre and senior Malachai Little Nest hit back-to-back 3-pointers to force a Project timeout.
The Red Devils pulled back into the game in the third quarter, though, cutting the lead inside five multiple times. For every Huntley Project run, Lodge Grass would have an answer. After back-to-back baskets by Noah Bouchard and Tim Rose pulled Project within 54-51, Moccasin and Gros Ventre scored on consecutive trips to keep the Red Devils at bay.
Bouchard had 24 points to lead all scorers, Jake Fox had 15 and Rose 11 for Huntley Project. Gros Ventre led Lodge Grass with 21 and Little Nest had 18.
Big man Jadence Archiyta stepped up with 10 points for Lodge Grass, eight of which came when the Indians were struggling to score in the third quarter.
"(Archiyta) had some good energy. Last year he fouled a lot, went for a lot of blocks. We worked on a lot of that," Stewart said. "I'm just proud of him. I'm proud of all our boys. They all brought that energy. We try to have at least 90% energy at all times on the floor. I think we're not there yet, but our practices will build to that."
Lodge Grass is scheduled to host Wyoming Indian High School on Friday afternoon. Huntley Project will face Roundup on Tuesday.