The Big Sandy Mountaineer -

Junior high cagers claim boys' tourney title


December 18, 2019

Perhaps the Big Sandy junior high boys’ basketball team and their coach were the only ones who thought they could win the district tournament this year.

Even if so, it was enough.

The Pioneers knocked off a Box Elder team in the semifinals that had not lost in three years and topped Big Sandy in the championship game a year prior.

“We talked in the locker room a lot about ‘Do you want to feel like you did last year or do you want to feel different?’” Pioneers coach Thomas Dilworth said.

The Pioneers’ play on the court answered that question satisfactorily with an upset win.

“I was really proud of their mindset. They came out and played unselfish basketball,” Dilworth said. “Just tough, disciplined basketball.”

Big Sandy returned eighth grader Wylee Snapp, who had missed about three weeks of play with a sprained ankle, just in time for the postseason.

Snapp fit smoothly back into the lineup and the Pioneers defeated the Chinook Sugarbeeters for the third time on the season to open the tournament in Gildford.

While Box Elder had a reputation and the Pioneers had a history with the Bears, the work was not over to conclude an up-and-down season on the highest possible note.

Just as the 1980 “Miracle on Ice” is remembered for the U.S. hockey team’s upset semifinal win against the Soviets, such a win only retains its luster if the job is finished in the final. The U.S. took gold with a less-celebrated win against Finland. Big Sandy completed its task by avoiding a letdown against Chester-Joplin-Inverness.

The Hi-Line Hawks beat the Pioneers twice in the regular season. Big Sandy adjusted its game plan with a triangle and 2 defense that forced mistakes from the Hawks’ best ballhandlers. Neither team could manage more than a couple buckets in the first quarter but only the Pioneers’ offense would loosen up as the game wore on.

Eight graders Snapp, Jake Darlington, Lane Demontiney and Cooper Taylor now join the senior high junior varsity boosted by finishing their junior high career as champs.

“It was great to see them walking the halls with smiles on their faces the next week,” Dilworth said. “And for the varsity guys, it’s a big boost for them to see that they’ve got some good players coming up.”


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