For the second straight night the Rocky Mountain Grizzlies dug an early hole against a quality opponent, and for the second straight night they rallied to win.
After coming from behind to beat Burlington on the road Friday night, the Grizz faced North Big Horn County rival Lovell Saturday night and after trailing by nine in the first half stormed back to stop the Bulldogs 70-58.
“In both games this weekend we were down early, which forced us to regroup and figure out whether we were willing to fight through it,” Rocky coach Michael Simmons said. “Some teams will panic a little bit in a troubling situation.”
Coach Craig Lundberg’s Bulldogs came to play and used a 10-2 run late in the first quarter to lead 16-9 after the first quarter. CJ Murphey hit a baseline jumper, and after Kirby Winland found Cole Simmons inside for two for the Grizz, Murphey drained a three-pointer. Cade Bischoff drove for two and Brandon Teter knocked down a trey to put Lovell up 16-9 at the quarter break.
“We want to be aggressive and make teams have to rotate over and help so we can get to the basket and the foul line,” Lovell coach Craig Lundberg said. “We did a good job establishing ourselves in the first quarter. CJ played great. He came out and hit some big shots for us and scored 9 points.”
The Grizz heated up in the second quarter and outscored the Bulldogs 22-16 to cut the deficit to one point at halftime, 32-31. Two free throws by Beau Green put Lovell up 18-9 early in the quarter, but Tanner Coleman swooped the baseline for two and converted a three-point play to launch a 9-4 run for Rocky Mountain. A trey by Dillon Schneider put Lovell up 26-19, but Rocky scored five straight, all on free throws, to cut into the lead. A follow shot by Trace Murphey put Lovell up 28-24, but a trey by Coleman and a bucket by Winland off a Lovell turnover put Rocky up 29-28. After Lovell tied the score 29-29, Winland powered for a spinning bank shot, but Mysen McArthur drilled a clutch trey at the buzzer to put Lovell up 32-31 at halftime.
“Down 18-9 we had the opportunity to find out whether we would fold up the camp or find a way to fight back,” Simmons said. “Tanner had 11 in the (second quarter). He has a ton of confidence coming out of the summer, and I believe he will only get more consistent.”
Rocky took charge in the second half, outscoring Lovell 16-7 in the third quarter and 23-19 in the fourth to pull away and win by 12. Lovell hung tough, trailing by seven twice in the third but then cutting the lead back to four. After the Grizz led by nine early in the fourth, the Bulldogs five times cut the lead to five points before Rocky pulled away with a late 9-2 run.
“We played a lot better (in the second half),” Simmons said. “We never really extended our lead, though. Lovell was right there. It was two to three possessions but not enough to get comfortable. That’s a credit to Craig and his staff. He has those kids playing hard and doing a lot of good things.”
Simmons said he has also noticed a strong sense of sportsmanship between the two rival schools.
“I noticed more kids helping each other up than we’ve seen in a lot of years,” he said. “Kudos to Craig and his staff, plus the parents.”
Winland finished with 18 points for the Grizz, Coleman 16, Cole Simmons 12 and John Higgins and Bill Despain 8 each. Cannon Simmons dished out nine assists, and Winland had five steals.
CJ Murphey led Lovell with 19 points, and McArthur added 11 points, Teter 8. Green, Haskell and CJ Murphey grabbed six rebounds each, and Green had four assists.
Dillon Schneider 1 0-0 3, Jacob Newman 0 1-3 1, Brandon Teter 2 3-3 8, Mysen McArthur 3 4-8 11, Trace Murphey 1 0-0 2, Cade Bischoff 2 0-0 4, Beau Green 1 2-3 5, Nic Haskell 2 1-2 5, CJ Murphey 8 2-3 19. Totals 20 13-22 58.
John Higgins 4 0-3 8, Cole Simmons 5 1-2 12, Bill Despain 3 0-0 8, Caleb Horrocks 0 3-4 3, Cordell McFarlane 0 0-2 0, Kirby Winland 9 0-2 18, Cole Wambeke 0 0-0 0, Cannon Simmons 2 0-0 5, Tanner Coleman 5 5-6 16. Totals 28 9-19 70.
Lovell 16 16 7 19 – 58
Rocky 9 22 16 23 – 70
Three-point field goals – Scheider, Teter, McArthur, Green, C. Murphey one each; Despain 2, Cole Simmons, Cannon Simmons and Coleman 1 each. Fouled out – none. Total fouls – Lovell 18, Rocky 20.
The Grizzlies will host the Big Horn Basin Shootout this Friday and Saturday in Cowley. The Grizz take on Meeteetse Friday at 4:45 p.m., Little Snake River Saturday at 10:45 a.m. and Burlington Saturday at 7:30 p.m.
The JVs take on Snake River Saturday at 9 a.m. and Burlington at 5:45 p.m.
Lovell will travel to the Lander Classic this weekend, facing Torrington at 6 (varsity) and 7:30 (JV) Friday. Saturday, the Bulldogs meet Wheatland at noon (varsity) and 1:30 p.m. (JV) and Rawlins at 6 (varsity) and 7:30 p.m. (JV).
By David Peck