I know that the football season, as well as the basketball season did not pan out they way Big Sandy had hoped. Both sports ended in heartbreaking defeats for their coaches, fans, and players. But as an outsider looking in, it is hard to say that it wasn't an amazing 2012-2013 run for the Pioneers.
Obviously the goal for any prep athletic program is to win state titles.
Big Sandy running back Jessey Bailey, left, throws a pass in the Class C Six-Man semifinals back in November in Big Sandy. In boys sports this year, Big Sandy reached the state championship game, then reached the Class C semifinals in basketball.
And the Pioneer's boys basketball program and football program have done that in the past, even as early as 2010, when the Pioneers' basketball team won the Class C state championship with a narrow win over Power. This year, the Pioneers had a shot at doing the almost impossible; they had a shot at winning a Class C football title followed by a Class C basketball title just a handful of months later on down the road.
We all know that dream didn't come true for Big Sandy, but that shouldn't take anything away from what the two Pioneer teams were able to accomplish.
It seems that the Pioneers make the state tournament a lot. It is no wonder they are typically known as one of the Class C powerhouses almost each and every year. In the 2008-2009, 2009-2010, 2011-2012 and the 2012-2013 seasons, the Pioneers managed to make runs at both the football and basketball state titles. The only exception in the last half a decade came in the 2010-2011 season when the football team was the No. 1 team out of the north in the state football playoffs, while the basketball team failed to reach state, not much more than a minor hiccup in an otherwise rather stunning run at state .
This season the Pioneers were in good position to win both state titles.
In late November, the Pioneers found themselves gearing up to play Hot Springs for a state Six-Man football title. They had seemingly ran past the rest of the Class C field during the regular season and in the playoffs, but the Pioneers ran into a massive speed bump when they arrived in Hot Springs. Big Sandy lost the title game 77-0, a bitter end to a great season and great post season. And if you can't win a state title, I guess second place is the next best thing. It may not feel like it when the final horn blows, but nobody else can say they are one of the two best teams in the entire state of Montana.
The basketball season wasn't as glamorous for the Pioneers, but yet again, they found themselves competing for a state title. The regular season brought a lot of tight and narrow wins, as well as some tough losses for Big Sandy. But after continuing to find ways to win, the Pioneers escaped the 9C and Northern C. And at the state tournament, the Pioneers even earned an upset win in the first round over Melstone 64-43. But unfortunately for the Pioneers, their state tournament was sent spiraling in the opposite direction after an amazing buzzer beater shot by the Westby/Grenora in the semifinals.
After the change of events, the Pioneers finished their season with a 17-2 record. They didn't reclaim the state title they had last hoisted in 2010, but it is safe to say that the Pioneers surprised a lot of teams stretching their season that far.
It is a great accomplishment to even make a state tournament. A lot of prep athletes fight for four years and don't even come close, but led by a select group of seniors, the Pioneers were there twice this year.
Zac Leader, Trevor Lackner, Kaden Beck and Jessey Bailey were all key on the football field and on the hardwood. It makes a special accomplishment even more special, especially for those seniors, as the Pioneers went out on top in two consecutive, but different sports seasons.