by nathan oster
Cold shooting and some early foul trouble contributed to Greybull’s first loss of the season, a 52-50 setback Friday afternoon in Big Horn.
The Buffs, now 3-1, led 13-9 after one quarter and by a single point, 21-20, at the half before a 15-9 surge by the Rams put the Buffs in a five-point hold heading into the final quarter. The Buffs produced their most productive quarter of the game, scoring 20 points, but it wasn’t enough.
Greybull connected on 37 percent from the field, which included an icy 3 of 17 from behind the three-point line. Foul shooting, which had been a strength the week before at the Herder Classic, also factored in the loss, as Greybull hit 11 of 19 while the Rams went 12 for 14.
“We got off to a good start and were playing the tempo we liked in the first quarter,” said Coach Jim Prather. “Big Horn switched to a zone in the second quarter and slowed the tempo way down. We took good shots, but they just weren’t falling.”
The trend continued in the third quarter, as Big Horn continued to frustrate the Buffs with its zone. At one point, the Rams led by 10 before a pair of three-pointers by Zeller gave the Buffs some life.
The pace quickened in the fourth quarter. Using their press to get back in it, the Buffs regained the lead with about 1:30 to play on a three-point play by Jackson. Big Horn responded with a three-pointer of its own to go up two.
Looking for the tie, the Buffs instead turned it over, but that miscue was quickly forgotten moments when Sylvester came up with a steal and dished the ball to Zeller for a layup that tied the score at 50 with just 15 seconds to play.
Big Horn scored the deciding points on a pair of free throws with 5.3 seconds remaining.
The Buffs tried a three at the buzzer to win, but it was no good, giving the Rams the win.
Prather said the Buffs were hampered early on by foul trouble as both Zeller and Sylvester were forced to the bench for most of the first half. They are the team’s two primary ballhandlers. “We didn’t seem to have a lot of rhythm without them on the floor.”
It’ll simply go down as a non-conference loss for the Buffs — and they will get another crack at the Rams later in the season at Buff Gym. But Prather said what went down Friday can serve as a springboard for the rest of the season.
“We are learning that as a quality team, we are going to get the best effort from our opponents each game,” said Prather. “We were methodical and played with poise, but need to find that little bit of an edge that will enable us to put teams away when we face adversity like poor shooting or foul trouble.
“Big Horn beat Big Piney later in the day so the Rams have shown they are a quality team. We had our chances in a gym that has been a tough place for us to play in the past. This is the type of game that will help us grow as a team as we head into conference play.”
Greybull 13 8 9 20 — 50
Big Horn 9 11 15 17 — 52
GREYBULL — Fabian Davila 2 0-0 4, Calder Forcella 0 1-2 1, Jordan Jackson 8 3-7 19, Ryan Sylvester 1 3-4 6, Zack Zeller 3 0-0 8, Treston Tracy 4 4-6 12. Totals 18 11-19 50.
BIG HORN — Lube 3 0-0 6, Kite 6 8-10 21, Bates 3 0-0 8, Powers 2 2-2 6, McCafferty 1 2-2 5, Blany 3 0-0 6. Totals 18 12-14 52.
3-POINT GOALS — McCafferty, Kite; Sylvester, Zeller 2. REBOUNDS — Greybull 32 (Jackson and Zeller 8). STEALS — Greybull 8 (Forcella 3). ASSISTS — Greybull 18 (Sylvester 7). TURNOVERS — Greybull 19.