Buffs take third at state

BUFFS seniors with trophy

by nathan oster

The Greybull Buffs overcame their first hurdle by dominating Lusk and were two good quarters away from earning a berth in the state championship game before a late rally by the Wyoming Indian Chiefs dashed their title hopes last weekend at the State 2A Basketball Championships in Casper.

But true to their form throughout the season, the Buffs bounced back from defeat, beating Pine Bluffs in Saturday afternoon’s third-place game at Casper College to capture the third-place trophy. Greybull finished 24-5.

“I’d characterize it as a great year,” said Coach Jim Prather. “We were the undefeated conference champs, third at regionals, third at state and we set a school record for most wins during a season.

“But most importantly, this was a group of outstanding young men who represented their school and the community in a positive fashion everywhere they went.  As a coach, those are some great things to be thankful for.  I couldn’t be prouder of them.”

Greybull looked like a team on a mission in their tournament opener against a Lusk team that had been ranked above them for much of the season.  The Tigers won their conference but were upset in the regional final by Big Horn, leaving them as a No. 2 seed.

When the two teams played the second weekend of the regular season, Greybull was one point better.  The rematch wasn’t as close, as the Buffs started fast, building a 14-5 lead after one, and cruised from there to a 58-39 win.

Prather called it “arguably the most important game of the tournament,” noting that a win would guarantee that the Buffs would be playing for a trophy on Saturday.  His team responded by playing with a sense of urgency.

“I think the score, and how physically we controlled them from start to finish, was indicative of our growth as a team,” said Prather. “One of the teams got a whole lot better from early December to early March — and that was us.”

Greybull shot 49 percent from the field, including 4 of 8 from long range, and had just 14 turnovers. Kason Clutter led the way with 26 points to go along with eight boards, four assists and four steals.

Treston Tracy followed with 12 points and nine boards, while Paul Stewart added 12 boards.

Wyoming Indian, which beat Burns on Thursday, was waiting for the Buffs in the semifinals.

The Buffs had played the Chiefs tough earlier in the season, losing by just five in Ethete, so they were a confident bunch going in.  They knew that the key to success was being careful with the ball, and in the first half they certainly were, with only a half dozen miscues.

“We’d be happy with that against any opponent,” said Prather. “But to have that kind of success against the Chiefs, it’s just crucial.  It prevents them from going on a lot of those four and five possession runs where they put a lot of points on the board in a hurry.

At halftime, the Buffs led 26-20.  They had connected on 12 of 23 from the field, which was better than 50 percent. Their strong play continued in the third quarter, as the Buffs eventually built the lead up to 11 before the Chiefs came storming back.

With leading scorers Kason Clutter and Treston Tracy in foul trouble, the Buffs couldn’t finish.

Wyoming Indian had a lot to do with that.  The Chiefs closed to within two, 37-35, at third quarter break and eventually tied the game at 38 apiece early in the fourth quarter.  Clutter, the Buffs’ point guard, picked up his fourth foul at 4:22.   At the time, the score was knotted at 40.

One of the turning points in the game came with about 3 ½ minutes to play. Wilson Clifford was at the line.  He had sunk the first shot to give the Chiefs a one-point lead.  His second shot clanged off the iron, but the Buffs were unable to corral the rebound.  The Chiefs snared it and got it to an open Buell Robinson, who drained what would be his only 3-pointer of the game.

Suddenly, the Buffs found themselves down four.

“That put them up two possessions — and that’s not a situation you want to be in late against that team,” said Prather. “Give them credit.”

The Chiefs snatched the victory by forcing 13 Greybull turnovers and shooting 50 percent from the field in the third and 67 percent from the field in the fourth.  For the game, they were 20 of 46 from the floor and 17 of 31 from the line, including 12 of 22 in the final quarter. Clifford did most of that damage, hitting 8 of 12 in the fourth quarter and 11 of 15 in the game to finish with 19 points. “It may have been the game of his life,” said Prather. “When we’ve played them in the past, he’s never played that well.”

Greybull connected on 7 of 14 from the stripe — and five of those misses came in the fourth.

Prather said his team entered the game with a goal of controlling the key — “and I thought our kids rose to that challenge, particularly in the first half.” Down the stretch though, they just couldn’t overcome the Chiefs.

“I was proud of the way our bench played when we had to go to situational subbing at the end of the game,” he said. “We tried to generate some turnovers.  At one point, we got it down to four points.  We hoped we could get a five-count on an inbounds play, but just couldn’t pull it off.

“Credit our kids. They fought hard to the end. I was proud of them.”

Tracy paced Greybull with 17, followed by Clutter with 12.

The loss sent the Buffs to the third-place game for a matchup with Pine Bluffs, which had lost in double overtime Friday night to Rocky Mountain.  Any question about whether the Buffs would be up for the game was answered early, as Greybull got off to another fast start.

The lead fluctuated between two and four points at each of the first three quarter stops.

The Buffs pulled it out though, with a 21-point fourth quarter.  Clutter, playing his final game, wouldn’t be denied the win. He sank 7 of 9 free throws and talled 11 of his team-high 23 points in the final quarter.  Treston Tracy added six to the mix in the final quarter to finish with 14.

Greybull again struggled from the line, hitting 13 of 29, but made up for it by having only 11 turnovers and playing soid defense.

“I was ecstatic for the kids being able to walk out of there with a trophy.  They earned it,” said Prather.

The game marked the end of the playing careers of Payton Gonzalez, Kason Clutter, Paul Stewart, Bryce Wright and Logan Jensen.  More on their careers, a wrapup of the season and a look ahead to next year will appear in next week’s issue.

 

Greybull 14 13 14 17 — 58

Lusk   5   6 20   8 — 39

GREYBULL — Fabian Davila 2 0-0 4, Wyatt Nielson 1 0-0 2, Kason Clutter 12 0-2 26, Paul Stewart 2 3-6 7, Zack Zeller 1 0-0 3, Bryce Wright 2 0-1 4, Treston Tracy 5 1-3 12 — 25-51 4-12 58.

LUSK — M. VandeBossche 1 2-4 4, Venable 0 0-2 0, Shaw 4 2-2 12, Dockery 4 2-3 10, Lamar 3 0-0 7, Robinson 1 0-0 3,  D. VandeBossche 1 1-4 3.  Totals 14 7-15 39.

3-POINT GOALS — Clutter 2, Zeller, Tracy; Shaw 2, Lamar, Robinson.  REBOUNDS — Greybull 36 (Stewart 12, Tracy 9).  STEALS — Greybull 12 (Clutter 4).  ASSISTS — Greybull (Clutter 4, Gonzalez 4).  TURNOVERS — Greybull 14.

 

Greybull 12 14 11 12 — 49

Wyo. Indian   8 12 15 23 — 58

GREYBULL — Payton Gonzalez 2 0-2 5, Kason Clutter 4 4-8 12, Ryan Sylvester 1 0-0 3, Paul Stewart 4 0-0 8, Bryce Wright 2 0-0 4, Treston Tracy 7 3-4 17.  Totals 20 7-14 49.

WYO INDIAN — Valdez 1 0-0 2, Mosqueda 3 1-2 7, Clifford 4 11-15 19, Howell 1 0-3 2, Gardner 0 2-2 2, Robinson 4 0-2 9, Williamson 6 3-7 15.  Totals 20 17-31 58.

3-POINT GOALS — Gonzalez, Sylvester; Robinson.  REBOUNDS — Greybull 29 (Stewart 7). STEALS — Greybull 7 (Forcella, Clutter 3).  ASSISTS — Greybull 18 (Clutter 10).  TURNOVERS — Greybull 20.

 

Greybull 10 14   9 21 — 54

Pine Bluffs   8 13 14 15 — 50

GREYBULL —  Gonzalez 2 0-0 4, Calder Forcella 1 0-0 3, Clutter 7 9-12 23, Sylvester 3 1-8 7, Stewart 0 1-2 1, Wright 0 2-6 2, Logan Jensen 0 0-1 0, Treston Tracy 7 0-0 14.  Totals 20 13-29 54.

PINE BLUFFS — Thompson 6 10-12 22, Steger 2 0-2 4, Gross 6 0-2 12, Werner 1 3-5 6, Thurin 0 0-1 1, Bymer 2 0-0 5.  Totals 17 14-23 50.

3-POINT GOALS — Forcella; Werner, Bymer.  REBOUNDS — Greybull 28 (Clutter 9).  STEALS — Greybull 14 (Clutter 4).  ASSISTS — Greybull 10 (Clutter 4).  TURNOVERS — Greybull 11.