North Big Horn County’s four high school basketball teams are on the road to Riverton today (Thursday) to compete in the annual Class 2A West Regional Basketball Tournament held at Riverton High School and Central Wyoming College through Saturday.
First up is the Rocky Mountain Lady Grizzlies, who will take on the Kemmerer Lady Rangers at 2 p.m. Thursday at Riverton High School. Rocky (8-15) clobbered Riverside 59-21 Monday in Cowley in a regional play-in game and will now meet the top seed from the Southwest 2A in Kemmerer (17-5), who won seven of eight conference games this season and beat the Lady Grizz 50-33 during the Big Horn Basin Shootout on Dec. 7.
If the Lady Grizz upset Kemmerer, they will meet the winner of the Thermopolis-Wyoming Indian game Friday at 3 p.m. at RHS. If they lose to Kemmerer, the Lady Grizzlies will play the Thermop-WIHS loser at 8:30 a.m. Friday at RHS. The Lady Grizz have split with Thermop this season and fell to Wyoming Indian 61-45 Jan. 18 in Ethete.
Next up for North Big Horn County hoops fans is the Grizzly boys taking on Wind River at 3:30 p.m., and fans attending the girls game will have to pack up and move to the college for the boys contest. Rocky (15-7) defeated Wind River (8-15) twice early in the season – 68-53 during the Big Horn Basin Shootout and 59-50 in Cowley on Dec. 14.
“We want to get out and contest their perimeter shooters,” Rocky coach Michael Simmons said. “They don’t do a lot of inside stuff, but we need to box out on their shooters with our guards to avoid them getting long rebounds. We need to box out and not allow second-chance points.
“They’ll press and try to get layups like Wyoming Indian, and I’m sure they’ve improved. When we played them they didn’t have a lot of half-court offense.”
If the Grizzlies win, they will play the winner of the Wyoming Indian-Thermopolis game Friday at 4:30 p.m. at RHS, while an opening-round loss would place the Grizz in a loser-out game Friday at 10 a.m. at RHS against the Chiefs-Bobcats loser.
Simmons said the only good thing about having top-ranked Wyoming Indian on Rocky’s side of the bracket is that the Chiefs will play a similar style of basketball as Wind River.
“Our focus is on Wind River, but our preparation will carry on to Friday very well,” he said.
The 19-3 Lovell Lady Bulldogs will take on Southwest fourth seed Shoshoni (10-11) at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at RHS. Lovell has not played the Lady Blue this year, but Coach Chris Edwards expects a battle.
“They’re a very physical group that really gets physical with their defenses,” he said. “We need to make sure we’re patient and move the ball to high-percentage shots. We’re fortunate to have more depth than most 2A teams now.”
If the Lady Bulldogs win, they’ll play the winner of the Wind River-Greybull game Friday at 6 p.m. at RHS. Lovell has not played Wind River this season, but the Lady Bulldogs have defeated Greybull twice, 60-35 and 59-34.
“Both teams are pretty tough semifinal matchups for our girls,” Edwards said.
The final team of the North Big Horn County fearsome foursome is the Lovell Bulldogs, who will take on Southwest second seed Big Piney Thursday at 7 p.m. at CWC.
Lovell (9-13) fell to Big Piney 31-23 in the first game of the season during the Big Horn Basin Shootout, but a lot of basketball has been played since then. Coach Craig Lundberg knows the Punchers (19-3) will be tough to beat.
“They’re a very disciplined team,” he said. “If you don’t play tough defensively they’ll score 65 points on you, and if you play disciplined defense they’ll work the ball around for two minutes and be happy to score 35 points and win. They won’t take a bad shot.
“We need to do the same thing. We’ve been stressing that we need to take the best shot possible.”
The Punchers like to work the ball inside to Nolan Jones, who Lundberg called the team’s sparkplug.
“He’s a 6-3 post who works his tail off,” Lundberg said. “We’ve got to be able to limit his offensive rebounds and second-chance points.”
If the Bulldogs win they will take on the Greybull-Kemmerer winner at 7:30 p.m. Friday at RHS. If they lose to Big Piney they will play the Greybull-Kemmerer loser at 1 p.m. Friday at RHS. The Bulldogs defeated Kemmerer 53-38 at the Big Horn Basin Shootout early in the season.
by David Peck