Buffs sweep conference foes

By: 
Nathan Oster

The Greybull Buffs picked up a pair of important Class 2A Northwest Conference wins last week, handling Riverside 56-33 on Thursday and using a buzzer beater to stun Shoshoni 54-52 on Friday before seeing their three-game win streak end in a 77-58 defeat to Tongue River on Saturday.

Greybull heads into the final week of the regular season with a 5-10 record, but with the arrows pointing up.  The Buffs didn’t top 50 points in any of their first nine games, but have now done so in five of their past six, going 4-2 over that stretch.

Coach Logan Burningham said he was “really happy” with this team’s play last week, citing the two conference wins. “And even in the loss (to Tongue River), we saw some positives come out of it.”

The Buffs completed a sweep of their season series with the Rebels, winning by 23 Thursday night at Buff Gym.  The Rebels were missing their leading scorer and rebounder, the injured Cash Duncan, whom Burningham described as “the heart and soul of their team.”

Burningham wanted his team to start fast and it did so, overwhelming the Rebels 15-4 in the first quarter.  By halftime, the Buffs led 28-12.  The Rebels never threatened in the second half, eventually losing by 23.

Carlos Rodriguez and Isaac Thueson led the way with 12 apiece, followed by Carlos Hernandez with 11.

The big game of the weekend was Friday night in Shoshoni.  The Buffs felt like they let one slip away the first time they faced the Wranglers, a game they lost 53-48 at Buff Gym.  They were looking for revenge — but a poor second quarter left the Buffs in a 13-point halftime hole, at 36-23.

Burningham said his team “gave up way too many baseline drives” on defense and struggled to beat the Shoshoni press.  Their turnovers led to easy Shoshoni points.  So job one at the half was shoring up those areas.

A different team took the court for the second half.  The Buffs went on an 8-0 run, clawing back to within five points.  By early in the fourth quarter, they’d caught up to the Wranglers, setting the stage for a fantastic finish.

“Our defense really locked down,” said Burningham.

Shoshoni scored just eight points in the third and eight more in the fourth — while the Buffs were hanging 31 on the board.

Rodriguez made a couple of key plays down the stretch — a “hustle” rebound of a teammate’s free-throw miss, and later, a driving layup in the final minute to put the Buffs up one — but the biggest play was still to come.

Jesus Hernandez provided it.  After a time out, Buffs ran a set play.  Eventually the Buffs worked the ball inside, with Cale Wright making the entry pass to Hernandez, who banked one off the glass and in with his left hand as time expired.

 The senior’s 20th and 21st points of the night, to go along with 13 rebounds, made winners of the Buffs.

“It was a win we needed so badly,” said Burningham. “Sometimes a big win like that can get a team going.  We had two or three of those last year.  But this was the first one this year — we had to have it to turn our season around.”

Cale Wright was the other Buff in double figures with 10 while Rodriguez provided eight points and nine boards.

Saturday’s game against Tongue River ended in a loss, but it had an altogether different feel than their first matchup.  In that one, the Buffs scored just three points in the first half and were held to 25 points in the contest. The Buffs were more competitive in the rematch and trailed by just nine, 40-31, at the half before the Eagles pulled away in the second half to win by 19.

“We held our own pretty well,” said Burningham, while lamenting his team’s 30 turnovers and inability to keep the Eagles off the offensive glass in the second half.  “Those things really cost us, but for us to score 58 against a team like that, while turning it over 30 times, is a positive.

“We’re starting to consistently shoot over 40 percent from the field — that’s something we weren’t doing early in the season.”

Hernandez led the offense for a second straight night, pouring in 24 points to go with eight boards.  Wright added nine and Gaven McColloch seven.

The Buffs close out the regular season with a home game Friday night against conference-leading Rocky Mountain, starting at 7 p.m.  On Saturday, Big Horn visits for a 3 p.m. nonconference game.  The Buffs lost to both teams earlier this season and will be looking to even the score.

The four teams in the Northwest already know their playoff fates.  Buff Gym in Greybull will be the site of a one-day conference tournament on Thursday, Feb. 25.  Rocky, the No. 1 seed, will face Riverside in one game.  Greybull and Shoshoni will square off in the other, with the winner advancing to state and the loser going home.

“We know we’ll be playing Shoshoni … and we know we’re going to need to find a way to grind out another win,” he said. “It would be awesome to send these seniors to state, and give these guys an opportunity to feel what that’s like.”

 

Riverside        4   8 11 10 — 33

Greybull       15 13 15 13 — 56

GREYBULL — Gaven McColloch 4-5 0-0 8, Brandt Miller 1-4 0-0 2, Isaac Thueson 5-10 0-0 12, Jesus Hernandez 5-12 1-2 11, Coby Henderson 1-1 0-0 3, Camryn Chapman 2-5 0-0 4, Irving Castro 0-3 0-0 0, Cale Wright 0-5 2-2 2, Carlos Rodriguez 5-6 2-7 12, Beto Diaz-Rios 1-4 0-0 2.  Totals 24-55 5-11 56.

3-POINT GOALS — Thueson 2, Henderson.  REBOUNDS — Greybull 44 (Rodriguez 12).  STEALS — Greybull 13 (Thueson 5).  ASSISTS — Greybull 19 (Hernandez 4).  TURNOVERS — Greybull 12.

 

Shoshoni      13 23   8   8 — 52

Greybull       13 10 15 16 — 54

GREYBULL — McColloch 1-7 0-0 2, Miller 1-1 0-0 2, Thueson 3-6 1-2 9, Hernandez 9-13 3-10 21, Chapman 1-2 0-0 2, Wright 4-4 0-0 10, Rodriguez 3-10 2-4 8.  Totals 22-43 6-16 54.

3-POINT GOALS — Thueson 2, Wright 2.  REBOUNDS — Greybull 40 (Rodriguez 11).  STEALS — Greybull 4.  ASSISTS — Greybull 13 (Wright, Rodriguez 4).  TURNOVERS — Greybull 20.

 

Tongue R.     21 19 23 14 — 77

Greybull       19 12 18   9 — 58

GREYBULL — McColloch 3-9 0-0 7, Miller 1-2 0-0 2, Thueson 1-10 2-2 4, Noah Zeller 0-0 0-1 0, Hernandez 9-11 6-10 24, Chapman 2-6 2-2 7, Wright 3-8 1-3 9, Rodriguez 1-3 0-0 2, Avery Swiftney 1-1 0-0 3.  TOTALS — 21-50 11-18 58.

3-POINT GOALS — Wright 2, Chapman, Swiftney.  REBOUNDS — Greybull 30 (Hernandez 8).  STEALS — Greybull 11 (Chapman, Rodriguez 4).  ASSISTS — Greybull 13 (McColloch 4).  TURNOVERS — Greybull 30.