Buffs give No. 2 ranked Chiefs a scare

by nathan oster

If the Greybull Buffs are fortunate enough to make it to the Class 2A West Regional, they will know that at the very least, they can compete against the teams from the southwest corner of the state.

The Buffs are 4-1 against the Southwest Conference — and their only loss, a 48-47 setback Saturday to Wyoming Indian, may have been more impressive than their four combined wins over Big Piney, Kemmerer, Shoshoni and Wind River, all of which came in the Big Horn Basin Shootout.

Playing their third game in as many days after a 67-37 thrashing of Riverside and a 52-37 loss to conference leading Lovell, the Buffs went toe to toe with the No. 2 ranked Chiefs for 32 minutes Saturday afternoon at Buff Gym.

In the final minute of the game, the Buffs had two chances to go ahead, but both times, they failed to get off a shot, allowing the Chiefs to get away with their 17th win of the season to go with only two losses (both to Lovell).

Coach Jim Prather said he saw it coming.

“I told the kids in the locker room before Wyoming Indian game that they are so close to moving into the upper echelon of teams, which is where we want to be come tournament time,” Prather said.

So on what did Prather base that opinion?

He certainly had to like what he saw Thursday night in Basin, where for the second time this season the Buffs overwhelmed the Rebels early and cruised to the 30-point win, which guaranteed them no worse than a No. 4 seed for the regional and home-court advantage for the pigtail game.

The Buffs focused their effort on stopping Clint Getzfreid — “a nice, proven player on our level.”  Getzfreid finished with 11, but all of them came in the second half.  By then, the Buffs were well on their way to the win.

“The kids played like they were on a mission,” Prather said.

No one more so than Payton Gonzalez, who lit it up for 26 points, including four three-pointers.  “He was on fire,” Prather said. “He has an element of quickness that’s hard for Riverside to match up against.  He was able to get a couple to fall on quick drives to the basket early, and I think once he saw those go in, he was able to get a few to go down from three-point range. Credit our kids for finding him.”

What Prather saw Friday night in Lovell was less encouraging, as the Bulldogs again dominated play early, building a 19-7 lead after one, a 32-15 cushion at the half and a 40-19 lead after three before the Buffs put up 18 points in the final quarter to make it a more respectable 15 point deficit at the final buzzer.

“But I thought we were much improved with our press offense,” Prather said, adding that he could live with the 18 turnovers, considering the No. 1-ranked Bulldogs “have been playing as well defensively as any team I’ve seen in a long time.”

The tempo was more to the Buffs’ liking in the rematch as well.

In the end, Prather was happy his team scored more, and gave up fewer, than in the first game, a 60-35 Lovell win.  “They just made more shots than we did,” Prather said. “But I thought our kids battled … they weren’t intimidated.”

Cody Savage was again a major factor in the paint, finishing with a team-high 16 for the ‘Dogs.

That set the stage for Saturday and the only meeting of the year with the Chiefs, who are the reigning 2A champs.  Wyoming Indian entered the game with the top scoring offense in the 2A West, averaging 68.9 points per game and winning by an average of more than 20 points.

What they got at Buff Gym was “the best defensive effort” of the season by the home team.

The game was knotted at 17 apiece after one.  The Chiefs stretched it to 10, 35-25, at the half, but the Buffs didn’t wilt.  In fact, they did the opposite, limiting the Chiefs to just 13 points in the third and fourth quarters while their offense was in catch-up mode.

Trevor Williamson, WIHS’s top inside player, netted 12 points in the first half, but was blanked in the second half.  And Alvin Spoonhunter, who averages 17 per game, was held to eight, with all but two of those coming in the first half.

“We talked at the end of the first, when the score was 17-17, that the pace was too fast, that if we played four quarters at the same tempo as the first, it was going to favor the Chiefs,” Prather said. “The kids were really focused.   If you can hold a Wyoming Indian team to 13 in a half, you’re doing something right.

“That was the key for us to climb back into the game.  It was the best man-to-man defense that we’ve played this season.”

The Buffs had their chances to win.  Wyoming Indian didn’t score in the final four minutes.  Treston Tracy converted an old-fashioned three-point play at the 3:34 mark that made it 48-44, then buried one from behind the arc at 1:27 to make it a 48-47 game. But the Buffs could get no closer.

Gonzalez led the way with 18.

 

This week

The Buffs will close out the conference portion of their schedule Friday night when Rocky Mountain comes to town.  With four conference wins, the Grizzlies are in the hunt for the No. 2 seed.  Even with a win, the Buffs can’t catch them and are locked into the No. 4 seed.

“They are playing well … but I have thought all along that they are one of the better 2A teams in the state,” Prather said. “They’re still young.  They haven’t been as consistent as they want to be, but none of that matters if you peak at the right time —  and Coach Simmons sure seems to have them peaking at the right time.”

Game times are 4 and 7 p.m.

Saturday Big Horn comes to town for games at 1 and 4 p.m.

 

Greybull 25 16 12 14 — 67

Riverside   6   8   8 15 — 37

GREYBULL — Payton Gonzalez 9 4-5 26, Zack Zeller 1 2-2 4, Calder Forcella 1 0-1 2, Wyatt Good 5 3-4 15, Quinton Haley 3 2-2 8, Paul Stewart 3 2-2 8, Fabian Davila 1 0-0 2, Treston Tracy 1 0-0 2.  Totals 24-63 13-16 67.

RIVERSIDE — Getzfreid 4 2-3 11, McKim 3 2-2 8, Mercer 4 2-4 10, Vigil 1 0-0 2, Koch 1 0-0 2, Deniz 2 0-1 4.  Totals 15 6-10 37.

3-POINT GOALS — Gonzalez 4, Good 2; Getzfreid.  REBOUNDS — Greybull 35 (Haley 11).  STEALS — Greybull 19 (Forcella 7).  ASSISTS — Greybull 14 (Gonzalez 4).  TURNOVERS  —Greybull 13.

 

Greybull   7   8 4 18 — 37

Lovell 19 13 8 12 — 52

GREYBULL — Gonzalez 4 0-0 9, Zeller 1 0-0 2, Cody Strauch 1 0-0 3, Forcella 0 2-2 2, Good 1 0-0 2, Haley 2 3-5 7, Ryan Sylvester 1 0-0 2, Paul Stewart 2 0-0 4, Tracy 2 2-2 6, Aidan Jenness 0 0-2 0.  Totals 14 7-11 37.

LOVELL — Tippetts 2 0-0 4, McArthur 1 1-2 3, Wolvington 1 0-0 2, Hultgren 4 0-0 9, Nicholls 2 1-2 5, Kite 0 1-2 1, Ellis 2 1-2 5, Clark 3 1-3 7, Savage 4 8-10 16.   Totals 19 13-21 52.

3-POINT GOALS — Gonzalez, Strauch; Hultgren.  REBOUNDS —  Greybull 18 (Stewart 4).  STEALS — Greybull 5 (Forcella 3).  ASSISTS — Greybull 9 (Logan Jensen, Wyatt Good 2).  TURNOVERS — Greybull 18.

 

Wyo. Indian 17 18   4   9 — 48

Greybull 17   8 10 12 — 47

WYOMING INDIAN —  Penatec 3 1-2 7, Gardner 1 0-0 3, Clifford 4 0-2 9, Howell 3 1-3 7, Spoonhunter 4 0-2 8, Williamson 5 2-3 12, Aragon 1 0-0 2.  Totals 21 4-12 48.

GREYBULL — Gonzalez 7 2-6 18, Forcella 3 0-0 6, Good 1 0-0 2, Haley 2 0-0 4, Stewart 3 3-8 9, Tracy 3 1-1 8.  Totals 19 6-15 47.

3-POINT GOALS —  Gardner, Clifford; Gonzalez 2, Tracy.  REBOUNDS — Greybull 35 (Tracy 8).  STEALS — Greybull 11 (Gonzalez, Forcella 4).  ASSISTS — Greybull 16 (Gonzalez 7).  TURNOVERS — Greybull 33.

 

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