by nathan oster
The Greybull Buffs moved a step closer to clinching the Class 2A Northwest Conference, but it was their game against Wyoming Indian on Friday night that got the weekend’s top billing and packed Buff Gym to the rafters.
It was, after all, a matchup of two of the top four teams, rankings-wise, in 2A, and it came on the heels of another one of those encounters just 24 hours earlier. Thursday night, Wind River, the No 1 team in 2A, trounced No. 4 Wyoming Indian 95-45.
Friday night, the No. 2 ranked Buffs and the Chiefs did battle, and like so many of their recent encounters, it too went down to the wire — or quite literally, to the final second, when Buell Robinson drained a three-pointer from the top of the key to give the Chiefs a 50-47 win.
The top scorer in all of 2A, Robinson finished with a game-high 19 points for the Chiefs.
The Buffs led by two at the half, 20-18, and by two after three, 37-35, before being outscored 15-10 in the fourth.
Coach Jim Prather said the Buffs knew they were playing a really good team.
“I was proud of how our team worked hard to control the tempo of the game. Defensively, we worked hard to make the Chiefs have to execute really well to get a good look at the hoop,” he said. “Holding them to 18 points in the first half (50 for the entire game) was an indicator of how effectively we played on the defensive end.”
The Buffs shot 37 percent from the floor and went 7-of-15 from the line, and while the Chiefs also struggled to connect, they made a number of clutch shots in the fourth quarter, including going 8 of 13 from the line in the final frame.
“Offensively, though we were patient and worked the ball for the type of shots we like, we were too passive at times,” said Prather. “There were other shot opportunities within the context of our offense that we either didn’t see or didn’t feel comfortable shooting. In our postgame discussion, we talked about being aggressive on the offensive end; 49 shots wasn’t enough for us. We can shoot more and still control tempo.”
Prather also lamented missed opportunities — twice in the final minute, the Buffs failed to corral missed free throws. With 22 seconds left, they had the ball and a chance to win, but turned it over with seven seconds to go, setting the stage for Robinson’s heroics. Robinson found himself all alone, squared up for the winning shot, after a teammate drove the lane and dished it back to him.
“We didn’t defend the last seven seconds as well as we could have,” said Prather. “That happens; the other team practices, too. We want to put ourselves in the situation where a last shot doesn’t mean anything in the final result. We have a good chance of seeing them again at Regionals, we’ll execute better down the stretch.
Four Buffs scored, with Treston Tracy tallying 16 points and 10 boards, Jordan Jackson contributing 12 and 10, respectively, and Zack Zeller netting 13, which include a three-pointer at the buzzer to end the third.
The Buffs got a far tougher test from Thermopolis on Saturday than they might have been expecting. The first game went Greybull’s way, 53-37, but the Bobcats came to play on Saturday afternoon.
Greybull led 20-14 after one, but sputtered in the second quarter and went in at the half trailing by five, 34-29. Prather said he liked his team’s offensive approach, but not the way it played defense.
“At halftime, our discussion focused on knowing we could score doesn’t mean you automatically win; you have to defend against good teams,” he said. “Dawson Forcella was the key for us against the Bobcats. We moved him to the middle of our zone to match up against Tyler Cornwell, and Dawson made him work for anything he got in the second half; he did a terrific job of overplaying his strong hand and contesting him when he got the ball.”
The Buffs needed a lights-out fourth quarter and got one, outscoring the Bobcats 25-7. Tracy netted 11 of his game-high 22, and the Buffs went a perfect 10 for 10 from the line, all in the fourth quarter.
Prather said the strong finish was “really a credit to our team: how coachable they are, how they listen, how they work to execute what is asked of them. They scored baskets on a number of set plays following time outs and when we ran a new offensive set to attack a change in defense by Thermopolis. Our execution on offense down the stretch was really, really good.
“The final stats show three different players with at least five assists, including Forcella with eight, which means we were really moving the ball well on offense. The 71 points is a better indicator of what we can be offensively than the 47 we put up the night before.”
Jordan Jackson also had a big game, finishing with 19, followed by Dustin Fox’s 13.
Now 16-3 overall and 5-0 in the Class 2A Northwest Conference, the Buffs will look to put another team in the rear-view mirror Saturday when they tangle with Shoshoni. Game times are 1 p.m. for the JV, 4:30 p.m. for the varsity.
The Buffs have beaten Shoshoni already this season, and with just one game on the slate, Prather said, “We’ll review the tape from our first game with them, make a couple of defensive adjustments and continue to refine our offense.
“We’ll be ready to play on Saturday.
Greybull 10 10 17 10 — 47
Wyo. Indian 12 6 17 15 — 50
GREYBULL — Dustin Fox 1 3-3 6, Jordan Jackson 5 2-9 12, Zack Zeller 5 1-1 13, Treston Tracy 7 1-2 16. Totals 18-48 7-15 47.
WYO. INDIAN — Valdez 1 4-4 6, Mosqueda 1 2-4 5, Sazue 4 6-12 14, Tiger 3 0-2 6, Robinson 7 2-2 19. Totals 16 14-26 50.
3-POINT GOALS — Zeller 2, Tracy, Fox; Robinson 3, Mosqueda. REBOUNDS — Greybull 39 (Tracy, Jackson 10). STEALS — Greybull 10 (Fox 4). ASSISTS — Greybull 13 (Fox, Zeller 4). TURNOVERS — Greybull 20.
Greybull 20 9 17 25 — 71
Thermop 14 20 15 7 — 56
GREYBULL — Fox 4 1-1 13, Dante Sylvester 0 4-4 4, Clancy Stoffers 0 2-2 2, Jordan Jackson 8 3-3 19, Cade Dooley 1 2-2 4, Zeller 1 3-4 6, Dawson Forcella 0 1-2 1, Tracy 9 2-2 22. Totals 22 18-20 71.
THERMOP — Jensen 5 0-0 12, Cornwell 4 13-16 22, Schwalbe 3 1-2 7, Robbins 2 1-3 5, Herold 4 1-2 10. Totals 18 16-23 56.
3-POINT GOALS — Fox 4, Tracy 2, Zeller; Jensen 2, Cornwell, Herold. REBOUNDS — Greybull 36 (Tracy 11). STEALS — Greybull 6 (Zeller 2). ASSISTS — Greybull 20 (Forcella 8). TURNOVERS — Greybull 10.