Buffs win the big ones, fall in Ethete

Neil Getzfreid pulls down a rebound in the Riverside game.

by nathan oster

Coming off a string of “lackluster” performances, Coach Jim Prather and the Greybull Buffs entered a crucial tripleheader against Riverside, Lovell and Wyoming Indian last week knowing that they needed to start building momentum for the upcoming Class 2A West Regional in Riverton.

By the end of the weekend, they had done just that, winning the two games that mattered most — 50-47 over Riverside on Thursday and 60-58 over top-ranked Lovell on Friday — and giving Wyoming Indian all it wanted before faltering late and losing 82-63 Saturday in Ethete.

In the process, the Buffs improved to 14-6 overall and put themselves in prime position to lock down the conference’s No. 2 seed for the regional tournament.

“Absolutely, it was a successful weekend,” said Prather. “We got the two games we needed — the conference games — and we played better than we had in a long time.”

The weekend did not start well, however.

Facing a Riverside team they had clubbed earlier in the season, the Buffs came out flat. Two minutes in, all five starters were on the bench.  “In a game as important as that one, I fully expected the kids to come out and play with the intensity and focus that generally characterizes our team,” Prather said of the starters’ benching.  “I didn’t feel like we had that early on. We had some defensive lapses, and some poor decisions on defense.

“I’ve learned in my years of experience that there’s one thing that captures the attention of athletes — and that’s playing time.  The other attempts and methods hadn’t worked too well up until that point.”

The “second five” of Wyatt Good, Brady Shoemaker, Paul Stewart, Payton Gonzalez and Edward DeCabooter played the majority of the minutes in the first quarter — and played well. Although they trailed 17-8 after one, the Buffs were in the process of “righting the ship,” Prather felt.

The momentum didn’t really begin to swing, though, until the 7:00 mark of the second when Prather reinserted the trio of Kason Clutter, Austin Frazier and Travis Sylvester.  When they checked in, Riverside led 19-8.

The Buffs immediately went on a 10-3 run to get back within four, at 22-18.

That set the stage for a three-point bomb at the buzzer by Frazier that pulled the Buffs to within one, 27-26.

“That really gave us momentum and a big emotional lift,” Prather said. “To have played as poorly as we did, and to be down by only one going in, was huge.”

The teams traded leads throughout the second half.  The Buffs pulled away later, however, getting a clutch three-ball from Frazier and then, in the final minute, getting a steal and a bucket by Gonzalez, a field goal from Hayden Goton and free throws from Sylvester and Frazier to seal the deal.

Frazier finished with 18 followed by Clutter with 10.  Riverside got good production from its top guns, as Brynnt Wood netted 17 — none in the fourth quarter, however — and Clint Getzfreid chipped in 16.

Prather said the key to the victory was defense, noting that his team gave up just 30 points total over the last three quarters. “We played with a lot more tenacity (after the first quarter),” he said.

The Buffs used the come-from-behind victory as a springboard into Friday’s game with Lovell.

“An emotional, hard-fought win like that can do wonders for morale,” Prather said. “For us, it was something we needed. We had been playing some lackluster ball the last couple of weeks. We felt good going into Friday’s game.”

In every season, there are wins … and then there are signature wins.  Greybull’s wire-to-wire, 60-58 win over the No. 1 ranked, and only twice-beaten Bulldogs, will go down as one of the latter.

When the two teams met earlier this season, it was all Lovell. But the rematch was a dogfight, as the Buffs better defended Lovell’s top two scorers, Brandon May and Cody Savage, and were better on the boards and in the turnover column.  Travis Sylvester and Hayden Goton were credited with “manning up” on May and Savage, respectively.

“The entire game was a better reflection of what we expect to do each time out, and that’s to play with tenacity on the defensive end, to get after the boards on both ends — we outrebounded Lovell at both ends — and to play with more confidence offensively.

“It was huge that we hit a couple of shots early and jumped out to an early lead.  The kids seemed to play with more spark and fire after that.”

Playing inspired ball, the Buffs led 17-8 after one and 34-25 at the half.  The Bulldogs made several runs at them in the second half, on several occasions trimming the lead to just a single point, but never took the lead.

The Buffs used a pair of clutch baskets by Clutter — one a three, the other a runner in the lane — as well as four big free throws by Neil Getzfreid to finish off the Bulldogs.  Frazier again led the way with 18, followed by Clutter with 13 and Getzfreid with 13.

Greybull finished with 39 rebounds — 11 by Goton — and 12 assists — six by Sylvester — to go along with only 14 turnovers. Two more telling stats: Greybull shot 42 percent from the field and 62 percent from the line.

“To me, I think (this game) affirmed my belief all year that we are capable of playing with anyone in 2A.  But in order to do that, we have to execute in all facets of the game.  The kids recognized they hadn’t done as well as they could.”

After the two emotional wins, it would have been easy for the Buffs to simply go through the motions Saturday in Ethete. But they went there to win. After one, the Buffs led.  At the half, they trailed by seven. And after three, the deficit was 12.

But Greybull cut the lead to seven, and had the ball, midway through the fourth quarter, but could get no closer. It was too much Wyoming Indian — and John Sounding Sides.

“A phenominal offensive player,” Sounding Sides netted 42 points, which included seven three-pointers.  “He hit a bunch — some contested, some from so far away we maybe didn’t think we needed to guard him,” laughed Prather. “He’s simply a great player.”

This week

The Buffs will close out the conference schedule with a  road game at Rocky Mountain Friday before returning to Buff Gym Saturday for an encounter with Big Horn.

The Griz won the first meeting.  But with their win over Lovell, the Buffs can go a long way toward locking down the No. 2 seed with a win in Cowley. The keys to victory are “finishing inside” — the Buffs missed a number of shots in close in the first meeting — and to take better care of the ball.”

Riverside 17 10 11   9 – 47

Greybull   8 18 11 13 – 50

RIVERSIDE – Getzfreid 5 4-4 16, Herman 3 0-0 8, Miller 1 2-3 4, Johnson 1 0-0 2, Wood 6 5-11 17.  Totals 16 11-18 47.

GREYBULL – Payton Gonzalez 2 1-2 5, Austin Frazier 5 5-6 18, Edward DeCabooter 0 0-2 0, Wyatt Good 0 1-2 1, Kason Clutter 4 0-2 10, Travis Sylvester 0 1-3 1, Neil Getzfreid 3 0-0 6, Hayden Goton 3 0-0 6, Brady Shoemaker 1 1-2 3.  Totals 18 9-19 50.

REBOUNDS – Greybull 31 (Getzfreid 11).  STEALS – Greybull 17 (Gonzalez 5).  ASSISTS – Greybull 13 (Sylvester 5).  TURNOVERS – Greybull 19.

Lovell   8 17 14 19 – 58

Greybull 17 17 12 13 – 60

LOVELL – May 3 2-2 9, McArthur 3 2-3 9, Hinckley 0 0-1 0, May 1 1-2 3, Baxendale 1 1-2 3, Hultgren 2 2-7 6, Clark 6 1-1 13, Savage 6 3-5 15.  Totals 22 11-18 58.

GREYBULL – Frazier 8 2-6 18, DeCabooter 1 0-0 2, Clutter 3 6-7 13, Sylvester 3 0-3 6, Getzfreid 4 5-5 13, Goton 3 0-0 6, Goton 1 0-0 2.  Totals 23 13-21 60.

REBOUNDS – Greybull 39 (Goton 11).  STEALS – Greybull 8 (Clutter 4).  ASSISTS – Greybull 12 (Sylvester 6).  TURNOVERS – Greybull 14.

Greybull 16 18 15 14 – 63

Wyo. Indian 15 28 18 21 – 82

GREYBULL – Frazier 6 3-6 18, DeCabooter 1 0-0 2, Wyatt Good 1 0-0 3, Clutter 8 1-3 20, Sylvester 2 0-0 4, Paul Stewart 0 2-4 2, Getzfreid 4 1-2 10, Goton 0 2-2 2, Shoemaker 1 0-0 2.  Totals 23 9-17 63.

WYO INDIAN – Aragon 4 0-0 8, Clifford 2 2-2 7, Howell 1 0-0 2, Mitchell 2 1-1 5, Longtime Sleeping 1 2-2 4, Spoonhunter 5 0-0 12, Soundingsides 15 5-5 42, Williamson 1 0-0 2.  Totals 31 10-10 82.

REBOUNDS – Greybull 43 (Getzfreid 10).  STEALS – Greybull 4.  ASSISTS – Greybull 13 (Sylvester 7).  TURNOVERS – Greybull 28.