Buffs fall to 1-4 in conference play

Nathan Oster

If they ultimately fall short of qualifying for the state tournament, the Greybull Buffs may end up kicking themselves for the close games that slipped from their grasp during the regular season.

The Buffs dropped to 9-8 overall, 1-4 in conference play after a one-point loss to Rocky Mountain Friday night at Buff Gym and a two-point loss to Wind River Saturday afternoon in Pavilion.

Three of Greybull's four conference losses (and four of their eight total losses) have been by two points or less. 

"It's definitely disappointing because in those conference games we were right there at the end, but just couldn't pull them out," said Coach Logan Burningham.  "We still have a lot of things we need to smooth out."

For the Buffs, the rematch with Rocky Mountain was just as frustrating as their first game. The Grizzlies won on their home floor, 45-37, and appeared on their way to winning the rematch as well, building a nine-point halftime lead and extending it to double digits in the second half.

Fueled by their defense, the Buffs mounted a fourth-quarter rally.

With a minute to play, it was 42-42 — and anyone's game to win.

It looked like it might be the Buffs after a Coby Henderson 3-pointer with 56 seconds to play, but the Grizzlies used a pair of Ben Simmons free throws, forced a Greybull turnover that immediately led to a Carsyn Weber layup and didn't allow the Buffs to score again.

Henderson led the Buffs with 13, followed by Aiden Reece with 10.

Burningham credited his team for the resilience it showed while lamenting the fact that a foul wasn't assessed on the game's decisive play — the turnover that led directly to the winning basket.

"Hopefully we get another chance at them — and we very well may at Regionals," he said.

The Buffs didn't shoot as well as they have been, finishing 5-of-16 (31%) from beyond the arc and 17-of-49 (35%) for the game.

The sting of the loss seemed to carry over to Saturday's game in Wind River.  The Cougars scored off the opening tip, forced a turnover and hit a 3-pointer to take a 5-0 lead before the Buffs knew what hit them.

"No question, we came out a little flat," said Burningham. "It looked like we were a little shell shocked by their intensity.  It took us a quarter, a quarter and a half to say, 'Hey, we have to match theirs.'"

While they trailed for much of the game, the Buffs outscored the Cougars 21-14 in the final eight minutes before once again coming up short.

Cale Wright led with 22 points and eight boards.

Carlos Rodriguez posted a double-double, with 19 points and 14 boards.


This week

The Buffs wrap up the regular season with a pair of road games. They'll be in Burlington today (Thursday, Feb. 16) and in Shoshoni Friday, Feb. 17.  Both games tip off at 7 p.m.

Greybull lost to Burlington 56-55 at the Big Horn Basin Hoops Classic, but the matchup with Shoshoni has far greater implications.  The Buffs at 1-4 in conference play; the Wranglers are 0-5.  

Looking ahead to the Class 2A West Regional, one of them will be a No. 3 seed, the other a No. 4. To the lowest seed will go an opening-round matchup with the top seed from the Southeast. 

"Going into the Burlington game, we won't be too worried about whether it ends in a W or an L, but we need to get some things figured out going into our last conference game.  That's the main focus," said Burningham.  "We need to get the No. 3 seed — if so, I think we'd be matched up with Big Piney again.

"I still like where we are.  Everything is in front of us.  We have guys on our team who are capable of winning the regional and making it to state."

To do so, the Buffs need to ratchet up their intensity on defense.  "It showed late in the third and early in the fourth against Rocky how important that is," said Burningham.

The other key is better offensive execution. "We can't be taking bad shots," he said. "There was a stretch against Rocky where we forced four straight turnovers but didn't score after any of them because we  just came down the floor and took a poor shot." 


Rocky Mt.    10 19 10   7 — 46

Greybull       9 11 11 14 — 45

GREYBULL — Coby Henderson 4-7 2-2 13, Juan Acuna 0-2 0-0 0, Aiden Reece 4-10 0-0 10, Cade Cooper 3-7 1-2 7, Cale Wright 1-11 0-0 2, Carlos Rodriguez 2-9 2-2 6, Beto Diaz-Rios 3-3 1-2 7.  Totals 17-of-49 (FGs) 6-of-8 (FTs) 45.

3-POINT GOALS — Henderson 3, Reece 2.   REBOUNDS — Greybull 28 (Rodriguez 8).  STEALS — Greybull 11 (Reece 4).  ASSISTS — Greybull 12 (Wright 5).  TURNOVERS — Greybull 9.

Wind River  24 12 19 14 — 69

Greybull     14 19 13 21 — 67

GREYBULL — Henderson 2-11 5-7 10, Reece 1-8 0-1 2, Cooper 5-5 1-3 11, Wright 7-15 4-5 22, Rodriguez 8-13 2-2 19, Diaz-Rios 0-2 3-4 3.  Totals 23-of-54 (FGs) 15-of-22 (FTs) 67.

3-POINT GOALS — Wright 4, Henderson, Rodriguez.  REBOUNDS — Greybull 43 (Rodriguez 14). STEALS — Greybull 7 (Rodriguez 3).  ASSISTS — Greybull 13 (Henderson 7).  TURNOVERS — Greybull 21.