Four games in two days await Buffs

Nathan Oster

With four games in two days, the Greybull Buffs should learn a lot about themselves at this weekend’s Coal Miners Classic in Wright and Herder Classic in Glenrock.
Coach Logan Burningham has taken two of his last three teams to the state tournament.  The Buffs placed fourth last year, riding a talented senior core that included Aiden Reece, Cade Cooper, Cale Wright and Beto Diaz-Rios to a 13-13 overall record.
To make it back to Casper, the Buffs will lean heavily on their two returning senior starters in Carlos Rodriguez and Coby Henderson.
Rodriguez, a two-time all-stater, led the team in scoring, averaging 14.8 ppg, and rebounding, averaging 9 rpg.  He was also its best free-throw shooter, at 72%.
Henderson, a two-time all-conference selection, was one of Greybull’s top deep threats, connecting 55 times in 137 3-point attempts (40%), and the team’s second-leading scorer, averaging 14.2 ppg.
That duo, however, won’t determine the ceiling of this year’s team, according to Burningham.
He called this season “a rebuilding type year,” saying “the key for us is going to be developing the players around (Rodriguez and Henderson).  It’ll take some time and experience to get the chemistry right, but if they come together as the season goes on, we can compete again in 2A.”
According to the coach, senior Juan Acuna “played good minutes for us” last year, subbing in as a guard before injuring his knee at the state tournament. He’s recovered and going full bore at practice.
Senior Jesus Rodriguez is “looking really good in practice, showing improved post moves and a high activity level.”
Juniors Isaac Vigil and Lucas Bolzer and sophomore Caden Hunt also figure to see considerable varsity playing time this weekend, according to Burningham.   In the “fighting for minutes” category, Burningham said, are sophomores Carter Jacobs and Yandel Hernandez along with freshman Larry Longshore.
“In Carlos and Coby, we have two players with high skill levels ... but both are going to be asked to play roles that are a little different for them.”
Each of them will be asked to create their own offense a little more than they were last year when the Buffs’ lineup featured several proven scoring threats.
“Those two, together, should provide a good portion of our offense,” said Burningham, adding that it’s feasible they take 60 percent of the team’s shots.
The question is, who will rebound? The Buffs lost four of their top five carom-collectors.  “For sure, we lost a lot of size, but I think 2A as a whole lost a lot of size, so I don’t think it’ll hurt us quit as badly,” said Burningham.  “We’re really emphasizing the need for everyone to be more physical, do the little stuff and really box out.”
This week
The Buffs open the season by participating in the Herder Classic in Glenrock and the Coal Miners Classic in Wright.  The tournaments are set up a little differently this year. In the past, the Buffs went to one or the other, rotating annually.
This year, Greybull plays two games in Wright, facing the host Panthers at 10:30 a.m. and Kaycee at 1:30 p.m. on Friday before moving over to Glenrock Saturday for games against the host Herders at noon and Lusk at 4:30 p.m.
The Buffs took two of three at this tournament last year, losing to Wright 68-59 but beating Kaycee 48-36 and Glenrock 48-39.
Burningham described Wright as “a top four or five team in 2A” and said especially Kaycee and to a lesser degree Glenrock return most of their top players from last year.
“It wouldn’t surprise me if all four of these games come down to the last four or five minutes — I don’t see any of them being blowouts,” he said.
And that wouldn’t be a bad thing considering Burningham’s emphasis on “role player development” early in the season.
“If six or seven of our guys can develop into solid varsity players, and with 2A being kind of down, we’ll be OK. But the kids have to understand what their role is, develop in that role and accept that role.”  
The JV squad faces Wright at 9 a.m. Friday and Glenrock at 1:30 p.m. Saturday.
In total, the Buffs have 25 players on their roster, which breaks down as follows:
Seniors: Carlos Rodriguez, Coby Henderson, Christian Nelson, Juan Acuna, Jesus Rodriguez, Brandon Burns, Jayson Araiza.
Juniors: Antonio Porras, Isaac Vigil, Cole Wisehart, Lucas Bolzer, Brenden Gross
Sophomores: Caden Hunt,  Carter Jacobs, Yandel Hernandez, Rex Cooper, Cash Hoflund, Jacob Shelley
Freshmen: Daniel Baker, Anthony Chacon, Landon Craft, Clayton Didrickson, Cord Edeler, Jaxson Hunt, Larry Longshore.