Grizzlies win three of four games at Classic

Hosting the inaugural Big Horn Basin Basketball Classic, the Rocky Mountain Grizzlies put together three solid days of basketball to win three of four games. The Grizz beat Ten Sleep 61-40 Thursday night, fell to Class 3A Powell Friday afternoon 60-44, beat rival Lovell 68-61 Saturday morning and wrapped up the tournament with a 70-52 win over Meeteetse Saturday afternoon.

We’ve heard of hanging on the rim, but here Rocky Mountain junior guard Cannon Simmons appears to be hanging on the pinky finger of Ten Sleep’s Elias Huff during Rocky’s 61-40 win Thursday night during the Big Horn Basin Classic. David Peck photo

We’ve heard of hanging on the rim, but here Rocky Mountain junior guard Cannon Simmons appears to be hanging on the pinky finger of Ten Sleep’s Elias Huff during Rocky’s 61-40 win Thursday night during the Big Horn Basin Classic.
David Peck photo

Now 7-2, the Grizzlies are off until Friday, Jan. 10, when they host the Class 1A top-ranked Burlington Huskies.

Rocky 61, Ten Sleep 40

The Grizzlies opened the tournament Thursday night by stopping Class 1A Ten Sleep 61-40, but not without a battle.

The Pioneers came out strong and took an early 7-0 lead, and the Grizzlies didn’t score a basket until an in-bounds play from Cannon Simmons to Caleb Horrocks 3½ minutes into the game, making the score 7-4 (combined with an earlier free throw). The Grizzlies began to heat up, however, and finished the first quarter with a 5-0 run to lead 10-9. Senior Joey Jewell gave energy to the Grizz, scoring the final two buckets of the quarter by taking the ball hard to the hoop.

Ten Sleep continued to hang around in the second quarter, and Daniel Miller’s three-pointer knotted the score 15-15 midway through the period. But Rocky finished the half with an 8-2 run to lead 23-17 at intermission.

The third quarter was all Rocky as the Grizz outscored the Pioneers 25-9 fueled by Cannon Simmons, who broke loose for a personal 10-0 run that included two treys and two fast-break buckets converting steals into two points.

“Cannon started playing decent the weekend before, and his confidence at the one is growing,” Coach Michael Simmons said. “We’re trying to get people involved, and as they start doing things that opens things up for him.”

Xavier Mangus added 5 points during the quarter, Cole Simmons 4. Rocky led 48-26 after three.

The two teams traded baskets in the fourth as Rocky advanced in the Classic with a 61-40 win.

Cannon Simmons led a balanced scoring attack with 16 points, and Xavier Mangus added 11 points, Kirby Winland 10.

TEN SLEEP (40)

Daniel Miller 3 3-6 10, Elias Huff 5 3-3 13, Kristian Nash 0 0-2 0, Malachi Ingraham 0 0-0 0, Quentin Fettig 3 1-2 8, R. Hampton 3 2-6 9. Totals 14 9-19 40.

ROCKY (61)

Xavier Mangus 4 3-8 11, John Higgins 2 0-0 4, Joey Jewell 3 0-0 6, Bill Despain 1 0-0-0 2, Caleb Horrocks 1 2-4 4, Kirby Winland 4 2-3 10, Cole Wambeke 0 0-0 0, Cannon Simmons 6 2-4 16, Cole Simmons 2 1-4 5, Tanner Coleman 1 0-0 3, Jacob Price 0 0-0 0. Totals 24 10-23 61.

Ten Sleep 9 8 9 14 – 40

Rocky Mtn. 10 13 25 13 – 61

Three-point field goals – Miller 1, Fettig 1, Hampton 1; Ca. Simmons 2, Coleman 1. Fouled out – Hampton. Total fouls – Ten Sleep 19, Rocky 17.

Powell 60, Rocky 44

The Grizzlies met the Class 3A Powell Panthers Friday afternoon and gave the Panthers all they wanted in the first half before the Powell power game took its toll in a 60-44 Panther win.

In essence, the Grizzlies won the Class 2A game (first half), but Powell prevailed in the 3A game (second half) as Rocky took a 29-26 lead at intermission but saw the game change dramatically in the second half as the Panthers played like a three-time state champion football team and laid the wood to the Grizz with a physicality the referees allowed and the Grizz couldn’t match. Powell outscored Rocky 34-15 in the second half to win by 16.

The Grizzlies came out with great energy as a pair of baseline jumpers and a free throw by Bill Despain put Rocky up 5-0. Rocky built a 9-3 lead before Powell took off on a 7-0 run to lead 10-9. Kirby Winland fed Jewell for a jumper, then scored on the fast break to help the Grizz to a 14-12 lead at the quarter break.

The lead changed hands several times in the second, but a three-point play (bucket and free throw) by Mangus, a slash by Cannon Simmons and a reverse layup by Simmons late in the quarter gave Rocky a 29-26 lead at the half.

“We came out with energy and executed as well as we have all year,” Simmons said. “(Playing) Powell brought our game up a notch. We played clean with good screens and people knowing what they’re doing. Both teams played well.”

Points were hard to come by in the second half for the Grizzlies as Powell stepped up its defense and pounded away at the Grizz, time and time again blocking shots as the Rocky squad took the ball inside. Powell started the quarter with a 7-0 burst and never trailed again. Rocky only made one basket (and four free throws) in the third, a baseline drive by Cannon Simmons, as Powell led 42-35 after outscoring Rocky 16-6.

The physical game eventually wore the Grizzlies down in the fourth, though they hung tough for a while. A pretty head-fake move by Winland and a trey by Cole Simmons kept the Grizz close at 48-42, but a put-back by Despain with more than four minutes left in the game would prove to be the final points for the home team as Powell scored the final 9 points of the game to win by 16.

“It was a good lesson,” Simmons said. “We’re still not the biggest team, and the more we play against bigger, stronger teams the more we’ll realize what it takes to win in March.”

Despain finished with 15 points to lead the Grizzlies, and Winland added 10 points, Cannon Simmons 9.

POWELL (60)

Matt Sweet 0 0-0 0, Kalei Smith 8 4-8 20, Hayden Cragoe 3 1-2 7, Blake Schwan 1 0-1 2, Zach Heny 3 3-7 9, Garrett Michaels 3 0-0 6, Carter Baxter 6 4-6 16. Totals 24 12-24 60.

ROCKY (44)

Xavier Mangus 1 3-3 5, John Higgins 0 0-0 0, Joey Jewell 1 0-0 2, Bill Despain 4 7-9 15, Caleb Horrocks 0 0-0 0, Kirby Winland 5 0-0 10, Cannon Simmons 3 3-4 9, Cole Simmons 1 0-0 3, Tanner Coleman 0 0-0 0, Jacob Price 0 0-0 0. Totals 15 13-16 44.

Powell 12 14 16 18 – 60

Rocky 14 15 6 9 – 44

Three-point field goals – Co. Simmons 1. Fouled out – Ca. Simmons. Total fouls – Powell 12, Rocky 20.

Rocky 68, Lovell 61

The Grizzlies won the battle of North Big Horn County Saturday morning as the Grizz stopped the rival Lovell Bulldogs 68-61.

A fired-up Lovell squad came to play and got off to a quick 6-0 lead before Bill Despain scored on a jumper for the Grizz. The Grizz added one more basket and four free throw as Lovell led 13-8 at the quarter break.

When Despain sat down with his third foul early in the second quarter, Tanner Colman came off the bench and drilled back-to-back three-pointers to keep the Grizzlies close and later helped fuel a 13-5 run with his third trey of the quarter as Rocky knotted the score at intermission, 31-31. Cannon  Simmons added a trey and a slashing drive during the late run.

“Every night it’s somebody different,” Coach Simmons said of Coleman’s shooting. “We continue to get different people having good games.”

Rocky came out strong in the third quarter and took a 40-31 lead with a 9-0 spurt. Winland had two power moves during the run, and the Grizz had a pair of nice assists for baskets – Cannon Simmons to  Jewell and Despain to John Higgins.

As has been the Grizzlies’ bane, however, Coach Simmons noted, rather than extending the lead, the Grizz saw Lovell scrap back to trail by only one at the quarter break, 46-45, and even take the lead three times in the fourth. But during a four-minute stretch midway through the fourth, the Grizz turned up the intensity on defense, ball-hawked their way to three or four steals and converted three of them into points, three strong drives by Cannon Simmons. The 14-3 run put the Grizz up 65-55, and they went on to the 68-61 win.

“Down the stretch we turned turnovers into points and hit free throws,” Simmons said. “I thought for a 10:30 game both teams did a good job. It was a good game, for the fans, too.”

Cannon Simmons led all scorers with 22 points, and Winland added 14, Coleman 9.

LOVELL (61)

Chase Tippetts 2 0-0 4, Calin McArthur 1 1-2 4, Brandon Wolvington 0 0-0 0, Mysen McArthur 5 9-10 21, Morgan May 1 2-2 4, Cade Bischoff 0 4-6 4, Beau Green 3 0-0 8, Nic Haskell 5 0-1 10, CJ Murphey 3 0-0 6. Totals 20 16-21 61.

ROCKY (68)

Xavier Mangus 0 0-0 0, John Higgins 2 0-0 4, Joey Jewell 2 2-6 4, Bill Despain 2 2-4 6, Caleb Horrocks 1 0-0 2, Kirby Winland 6 2-4 14, Cannon Simmons 7 7-10 22, Cole Simmons 0 5-6 5, Tanner Coleman 3 0-2 9. Totals 23 17-30 68.

Lovell 13 18 14 16 – 61

Rocky 8 23 15 22 – 68

Three-point field goals – Green 2, M. McArthur 2, C. McArthur 1; Coleman 3, Ca. Simmons 1. Fouled out – Tippetts. Total fouls – Lovell 25, Rocky 17.

Rocky 70,                       Meeteetse 52

Rocky clobbered Meeteetse 70-52 to finish with a 3-1 record at the Big Horn Basin Classic. The Grizz steamrolled the Park County foe 29-16 in the first quarter as junior center Kirby Winland powered inside for 12 points and Coleman knocked town back-to-back three-pointers late in the quarter.

“We felt we had an advantage inside. We wanted to get Kirby involved early,  and he responded,” Simmons said.

The Grizzlies ran the floor well and unselfishly shared the ball, piling up numerous assists. Six players scored in the second quarter as Rocky outscored Meeteetse 16-9 to lead 45-25, and six of the baskets had an assist attached.

“We continually talk about that (sharing the ball),” Simmons said. “This was a good game to go into the break with.”

The two teams mostly traded baskets in the second half as 10 of the 11 Rocky squad members got into the scoring column. Winland finished with 15 points, Coleman 13, Cannon Simmons 9 and Mangus, Jewell, Despain and Cole Simmons 6 each.

MEETEETSE (52)

Andrew Merz 0 0-0 0, Hank Wagers 1 0-0 2, Seth Bennett 8 3-4 24, Owen Burbank 0 0-0 0, Dalton Abarr 3 0-0 6, Cole Burbank 0 0-0 0, Shawn Shepperson 7 6-12 20, Luas Lamb 0 0-0 0. Totals 19 9-16 52.

ROCKY (70)

Xavier Mangus 3 0-1 6, John Higgins 0 0-0 0, Joey Jewell 3 0-0 6, Bill Despain 2 2-3 6, Caleb Horrocks 1 3-4 5, Kirby Winland 7 1-1 15, Cole Wambeke 0 1-2 1, Cannon Simmons 4 1-2 9, Cole Simmons 3 0-0 6, Tanner Coleman 5 0-0 13, Jacob Price 1 1-2 3. Totals 29 9-15 70.

Meeteetse 16 9 12 15 – 52

Rocky Mtn. 29 16 13 12 – 70

Three-point field goals – Bennett 5; Coleman 3. Fouled out – none. Total fouls – Meeteetse 14, Rocky 14.

by David Peck

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