by nathan oster
The Greybull Buffs notched a 38-point win over Riverside in their final home game of the season and will enter this weekend’s Class 2A West Regional in Riverton as the No. 2 seed from the Northwest Conference.
“Obviously, I was very pleased,” said Coach Jim Prather, whose Buffs improved to 14-6 overall, 6-2 in conference play with the 67-29 win Friday night at Buff Gym. “I think the seniors were excited to start and play together, especially in their final home games.
“We’d talked all week about wanting to leave our fans with the idea that we are playing our best basketball of the season going into the postseason. I don’t know if everyone agrees, but in that first half (against Riverside), we were about as close to doing that as we’re going to get.”
Greybull shot 72 percent from the field in the first half and led 48-14 at the break.
For the game it was a statistical masterpiece, as Greybull finished at 63 percent from the field, hit 12 of 13 from the foul line, good for 92 percent, and had just eight turnovers, their lowest total of the season.
“When you put those kind of numbers together, you’re going to have quite a bit of success,” said Prather. “The hot shooting may have been a result of a year’s worth of practice, and for the seniors, four years worth of running the same stuff. They’ve gotten better at it, and at recognizing where the good shots on the floor are going to be.”
Four players scored in double figures, with Calder Forcella netting 13, Zack Zeller 12 and Ryan Sylvester and Fabian Davila, 10 apiece.
As the Northwest’s No. 2, the Buffs will draw a good Wind River team in the opening round of the regional tournament. In the past, the two teams have typically played in the Big Horn Basin Shootout. That didn’t happen this year. When the two teams clash at 4 p.m. today (Thursday, Feb. 26) at Central Wyoming College, it will be their first meeting of the season.
The Cougars’ only losses of the season have been to Rocky Mountain, Wyoming Indian and Lyman. “Top to bottom, that conference was about as balanced as they come,” said Prather of the Southwest. “They flip-flopped spots all season and went into the last weekend to determine what their seedings were going to be.”
Prather said the Cougars “will present some matchup problems for us. Their quickness is a concern, as is their three-point shooting ability. C’Bearing is their primary scorer; he’ll shoot from a step beyond midcourt. Plus they have some good size around the hoop, making them a nice, balanced team.”
The Buffs know their opponent on Friday is going to be either Lyman or Thermopolis; they just don’t know whether it’ll happen in the winner’s bracket (if so, it’ll be a 7:30 p.m. matchup at RHS) or in the loser’s bracket (if so, make it 1 p.m. at RHS).
While plenty is known about Thermop, Lyman is a different story. The Eagles dropped down from 3A this year and won the Southwest Conference title. “Of the four teams coming from the Southwest, they are the closest team to us in terms of style and what they look like on paper,” said Prather. “They’ve got big kids inside, they like to control tempo, and they have some kids who will take the open three and make them. So from a matchup standpoint, it would be like scrimmaging against ourselves.”
Beyond Friday, it’s anyone’s guess. As always, the goal for each team is simply to win two before you lose two. In 16 years, Prather has seen it all, from teams emerging from out of nowhere to teams that dominated from start to finish.
Among the keys to success in this regional format are, “First and foremost, you have to be healthy. I’ve seen good teams go down there, us included, who are either missing a key component or lose someone during the tournament. You can’t have that in a tournament like this that is so competitive from top to bottom.
“I think you have to get a break or two. I believe you make those thinks happen by putting yourself in the right position, understand the clock and game situation. And it’s nice to have a kid or two who is shooting the lights out, too. I think we’re being very efficient with the ball, and more than anything, our confidence level has gone way up these past few weeks. Kids are taking the same shots they were taking early in the season — the difference is, they’re going in now.”
Riverside 7 7 7 8 — 29
Greybull 19 29 15 4 — 67
RIVERSIDE — Stevens 5 0-2 12, Vigil 1 0-0 2, McKim 1 0-0 3, Schwede 1 0-2 2, Sherburne 3 3-7 10. Totals 11 3-11 29.
GREYBULL — Fabian Davila 3 4-4 10, Wyatt Nielson 3 0-0 8, Calder Forcella 5 1-1 13, Jordan Jackson 2 0-0 4, Keegan Jenness 1 0-0 2, Ryan Sylvester 5 1-2 12, Clancy Stoffers 1 0-0 2, Treston Tracy 2 2-2 6. Totals 25 12-13 67.
3-POINT GOALS — Stevens 2, McKim, Sherburne; Nielson 2, Forcella 2, Zeller. REBOUNDS — Greybull 26 (Davila, Tracy 4). STEALS — Greybull 9. ASSISTS — Greybull 20 (Davila, Zeller 5). TURNOVERS — Greybull 8.