Buffs win first region championship

by nathan oster

Greybull High School earned its first-ever Class 2A West Regional title last weekend in Riverton, defeating two regular season conference champions in Lyman and Rocky Mountain as well as the Wind River team that ultimately ended the season of perennial power Wyoming Indian.

“I’d say the tournament went about as well as it possibly could have for us,” said Coach Jim Prather, whose team will take a 17-5 record into their 9 p.m. game against Burns in today’s opening round of the State 2A Basketball Championships in Casper.

“Mostly, though I’m happy for the kids, who put in a tremendous amount of time in preparation and have earned some recognition for it. But also I think as a collective group —coaches and players — we are excited because we got some validation for what we do and how we go about doing it.

“That became our manta, to just do what we do and to trust that our approach, our schemes, and how we play would be successful. The kids bought into it for those three days. Over the course of each game, there were times when doing what we do became evident as we seized control.”

Greybull’s list of conquests included a 56-54 win over Wind River, a 41-28 victory over Lyman and a 65-54 defeat of Rocky Mountain in the championship game. Making the three-game run even more impressive, all three of those teams qualified for the state tournament.

Greybull’s closest call came in the opening round against Wind River. The Buffs led by four after one, but it was a slugfest the rest of the way, as the Cougars led by one at the half and the Buffs by three after three quarters.

The game was decided late. Treston Tracy, the Greybull junior, won it for the Buffs, burying a pair of free throws with 3 seconds left to give the Buffs their winning margin. He finished with 15, followed by Ryan Sylvester with 12 and Jordan Jackson with 11.

The Buffs work on the defensive end was every bit as important. Caleb C’Bearing, one of the top scorers in 2A, finished with just seven points.

“We weren’t going to let him beat us,” said Prather, who credited Calder Forcella for “doing a fantastic job of picking him up full court” and to the Greybull defense as a whole for helping and forcing him to get rid of the ball. “He didn’t get many open looks.”

Prather credited the Buffs for their play down the stretch. Greybull hit 9 of 14 from the line in the second half, with Tracy (4 of 4) and Sylvester (3 of 3) proving especially accurate. “When it was clutch time, money time, our percentage from the line went way up,” he said.

Though just a .500 team, Lyman was the Southwest’s top team during the regular season.

The No. 1 seed was useless, however, against a Greybull team on a mission.

The Buffs started slowly, but regrouped, pulling to within one, 12-11, at the half.

The tide turned in the second half. With 6 minutes to play in the third, Lyman led 15-14.

From that point forward, Greybull outscored Lyman 27-13. Fabian Davila provided the initial spark, coming off the bench to produce buckets which gave Greybull its first lead, 16-15, and another one on the fast break to push the lead to 18-15.

“A real key was that in the second half, we started to press, and once we did, Lyman had trouble getting into its offense and getting good shots,” said Prather. “When we got a little lead, we spread the court and let our perimeter guys — Ryan (Sylvester), Calder (Forcella), Fabian (Davila) and Zack — do their thing. They did a great job of penetrating and finding open teammates.”

Prather again credited defensive whiz Forcella for clamping down on Lyman’s top scoring threat. Guard True Lueck, “a shifty ballhandler with deep range on his threes,” produced just nine points.

Tracy finished with 14 to lead the Buffs. Eleven of his points came in the second half.

Jackson chipped in 10.

“It it hadn’t been for a little stretch where we turned the ball over five consecutive times, we probably would have won by 25,” said Prather. “After the game, their coach told me they’d played a lot of 3A and 4A schools and no team defended them like we did. What a great credit that was to our kids.”

The win over Lyman guaranteed the Buffs a trip to state.

But unfinished business remained on Saturday, when the Buffs took the court against a Rocky team that had beaten them twice during the regular season. Prather said the message to his team was the same: Just do what we do and do it well. Once the again, it worked. Greybull led at every quarter stop, 17-10 after one, 33-30 at the half and 44-41 after three (thanks to a buzzer-beating three by Wyatt Nielson).

Rocky Mountain hit 10 threes, but it wasn’t enough to offset a Greybull attack in which five players scored eight or more points, including Tracy with 14, Jackson 10, Davila nine, Forcella and Sylvester eight.

The win stamped Greybull’s claim as the best in the west.

“It would be hard to argue that we’re not playing our best basketball of the season,” said Prather. “Not only did we win our regional, we beat all three of the other state qualifiers.”

The coach doesn’t expect to have any problems motivating his team this week.

The state crown is the big one.

“Our goal all season was to get to state,” said Prather. “Now we have put ourselves in a good spot by getting a No. 1 seed. One of the strengths of this team is that it’s a focused bunch. When we practice tonight, the regional will be a memory and we’ll be locked in on what we want to do.”

Prather has learned there are no “gimmes” in a state tournament.

Greybull opens with Burns, a team that struggled during the regular season but came on strong in last week’s regional tournament. “You can’t put a lot of stock in records,” said the coach. “You have to line up and play. We are going to do what we do and hopefully that will be enough. I think we match up well with Burns.”

On Friday the Buffs will face Lusk or Wind River, either in the winner’s bracket or the loser’s bracket. The Buffs own wins over both teams — but both came by razor thin margins. “Both would be tough matchups for us,” said Prather.

The keys to success this weekend? “You have to stay healthy, for one,” said Prather. “You have to do what you do and do it well, and you have to hope for a break here and there, like the buzzer-beater from Wyatt (against Rocky) that gave us tons of confidence and momentum.”

 

Greybull 17 10 15 14 — 56

Wind River 13 15 11 15 — 54

GREYBULL — Fabian Davila 3 0-0 6, Wyatt Nielson 0 0-1 0, Calder Forcella 2 1-3 6, Jordan Jackson 5 1-5 11, Ryan Sylvester 4 3-4 12, Zack Zeller 2 2-2 6, Treston Tracy 5 5-6 15. Totals 21 12-21 56.

WIND RIVER — C’Bearing 3 1-2 7, Trumbull 2 2-2 6, Oats 3 0-0 6, Hankins 2 2-2 7, Roanhorse 5 0-0 12, Cress 2 0-0 4, Tidzump 3 0-0 6, Tidzump 2 1-1 6. Totals 22 6-7 54.

3-POINT GOALS — Forcella, Sylvester; Roanhorse 2, Hankins, Tidzump. REBOUNDS — Greybull 31 (Tracy 12). STEALS — Greybull 6 (Nielson, Jackson 2). ASSISTS — Greybull 17 (Zeller 5). TURNOVERS — Greybull 19.

 

Greybull 5 6 17 13 — 41

Lyman9 3   8   8 — 28

GREYBULL — Davila 3 0-0 6, Jackson 5 0-0 10, Jenness 0 1-2 1, Sylvester 2 1-2 5, Zeller 2 0-0 5, Tracy 5 3-3 14. Totals 17 5-7 41.

LYMAN — Lueck 2 3-4 9, Jaggi 1 3-4 5, Buemel 1 0-2 2, Rollins 2 0-0 4, Walker 3 2-8 8. Totals 9 8-18 28.

3-POINT GOALS — Zeller, Tracy; Lueck 2. REBOUNDS — Greybull 26 ( Tracy 6). STEALS — Greybull 9 (Forcella, Zeller 3). ASSISTS — Greybull 13 (Forcella 5). TURNOVERS — Greybull 19.

 

Greybull 17 16 11 21 — 65

Rocky Mt. 10 20 11 13 — 54

GREYBULL — Davila 4 1-2 9, Nielson 1 0-0 3, Forcella 2 4-6 8, Jackson 4 2-2 10, Sylvester 3 2-2 8, Cade Dooley 2 1-2 5, Zeller 2 2-3 6, Dawson Forcella 1 0-0 2, Tracy 6 2-2 14. Totals 25 14-19 65.

ROCKY MT — Cole Simmons 3 0-4 8, Despain 4 0-0 10, Horrachio 0 1-2 1, Winland 6 0-0 12, Wambeke 2 0-0 6, Cannon Simmons 4 1-2 11, Coleman 2 0-0 6. Totals 21 2-8 54.

3-POINT GOALS — Nielson; Co. Simmons 2, Despain 2, Wambeke 2, Ca. Simmons 2, Coleman 2. REBOUNDS — Greybull 28 (Tracy 10). STEALS — Greybull 6 (Forcella 3). ASSISTS — Greybull 19 (Sylvester 7). TURNOVERS — Greybull 18.