Sweep gives Buffs early lead in conference race

Nathan Oster

Tongue River Eagles at Buff Gym Saturday

In a race that’s expected to be wide open, the Greybull Buffs burst out of the gates quickly last weekend, knocking off Rocky Mountain, 42-35, and Wind River, 47-45, to move to the front of the pack in the Class 2A Northwest Conference.
It’s early, of course, and the Buffs only share the top spot as Shoshoni also went 2-0 in conference games, but it was still an encouraging weekend for a Greybull team that lost eight of its first nine games but has since won four of its last five to reach 5-9.
Both games last weekend followed the same start-slowly-but-finish-strong script.
Against Rocky, Greybull trailed at every quarter stop until the fourth, when they outscored the Grizzlies 17-9.  Carlos Rodriguez led the way with 18 points and 11 rebounds, with Caden Hunt chipping in 10.
“Going into the fourth, we really preached that it was our time to beat Rocky, our time to make things happen and to leave it all on the floor,” said Coach Logan Burningham.  “To their credit, the kids stepped up and did everything two to three levels higher.  Not that they weren’t playing hard; their focus and execution was just at another level in the fourth quarter.”
The Buffs connected on 33% of their field goal attempts, including 50% of their 3-point tries.
A slow start also hampered the Buffs in Pavilion on Saturday.  It was 14-0 before they knew what hit them.  “We came out flat ... and I think people were panicking in the stands,” said Burningham. “But the kids stayed calm and kept executing. They missed some bunnies early on — that was part of the problem.   But they kept grinding.  In the second quarter, they got back into it. And in the third, they came out with a lot of energy and took the lead.”
Greybull outscored the Cougars 17-10 in the third quarter and led by two going into the fourth.
The game was decided at the wire.  Wind River managed to tie it up with 12 seconds left, but on Greybull’s next possession, Rodriguez was fouled and hit 1-of-2 from the line.  He followed that up with a steal, was fouled, and again hit 1-of-2, putting the Buffs in front by two.  Wind River missed a half-court try at the buzzer that would have won it.
One of the leading scorers in 2A, Rodriguez had an off night by his standards with 11 points and nine boards.  But Coby Henderson picked up the slack, scoring 15, and Caden Hunt chipped in 10, his second straight double-figure game.
“Caden came up big in both games,” said Burningham.  “If we can get him going and Coby going — he had a nice game on Saturday, hitting some threes and making some shots — along with Carlos, we could have a three-headed monster, which would make it harder for teams to defend us.”
Of the weekend, Burningham said, “Anytime you start 2-0 in the conference, it’s a good thing. But all four of us in the conference are pretty close, so whoever plays the best and can close the game out is likely to come out on top. Our team showed a lot, the way it battle through and got those wins.”
This week
The Buffs will complete their first pass through conference play with a road matchup in Shoshoni Friday night.  The varsity game tips at 7 p.m.  That will be followed by a non-conference game against Tongue River Saturday at Buff Gym, starting at 3 p.m.
Burningham likes what he’s seen thus from from Shoshoni. “I think that’s going to be one of the toughest games we’ll have in conference play,” he said. “They’re very athletic and their basketball IQ is top notch for our conference.  
“We need to make sure they don’t hurt us on the boards and in transition. They like to get out and run.”
The Buffs faced Tongue River at the Foothills Classic and lost 53-24.  The Eagles play in a loaded 2A Northeast, where every team is above .500, and last week, they knocked off No. 2 Wright by nine points.
“When you look at them, there isn’t a weak spot, so we’re going to have to slow the game down, limit possessions, keep it close until the fourth and try to pull it out at the end.”

Rocky Mt.        15 6 5   9 — 35
Greybull        10 9 6 17 — 42
GREYBULL — Caden Hunt 3-10 2-4 10, Juan Acuna 1-3 1-2 3, Coby Henderson 1-7 2-4 4, Isaac Vigil 1-3 0-0 2, Yandel Hernandez 2-5 1-4 5, Carlos Rodriguez 6-15 4-6 18.  Totals 14-of-43 10-of-20 42.
3-POINT GOALS — Hunt 2, Rodriguez 2.  REBOUNDS — Greybull 36 (Rodriguez 11). STEALS — Greybull 12 (Rodriguez 5).  ASSISTS — Greybull 11 (Acuna 3).  TURNOVERS — Greybull 18.
Wind River        14 10 10 11 — 45
Greybull          6 13 17 11 — 47
GREYBULL — Hunt 3-9 2-6 10, Acuna 2-6 0-0 4, Henderson 5-17 1-2 15, Vigil 2-6 0-2 4, Hernandez 1-6 1-2 3, Rodriguez 2-12 7-11 11.  Totals 15-of-56 11-of-23 47.
3-POINT GOALS — Henderson 4, Hunt 2.  REBOUNDS — Greybull 38 (Rodriguez 9).  STEALS — Greybull 12 (Henderson 4).  ASSISTS — Greybull 9.  TURNOVERS — Greybull 11.