The Lovell Bulldogs showed they’re a force to be reckoned with in the 3A West over the weekend as they traveled to far western Wyoming and came away with a pair of wins over Jackson and Star Valley.
Lovell (9-4) won a thriller in Jackson 59-57 on a buzzer-beater, then built a huge early lead and held off fourth-ranked Star Valley on Saturday, 52-45.
Jackson came out on fire Friday, hitting eight three-pointers in the first half to lead the Bulldogs 35-24 at halftime.
“They came out gunning,” Lovell coach Craig Lundberg said. “They surprised us a little bit with how effective they were shooting the three-pointer.”
The two foes traded baskets in the first quarter, which ended in an 18-18 tie. Brandon Teter was strong in the quarter with 7 points, and Jacob Newman and Konner Davis each hit a three-pointer.
“We had a good first quarter,” Lundberg said. “Brandon Teter did an excellent job cutting to open spots and running guy off curl screens. They sagged off Konner and he drilled it, which was good to see.”
Jackson won the second quarter 17-6, hitting five three-pointers in the quarter.
“They used double screens to get open, and even with a hand in their face they were still able to knock ‘em down,” Lundberg said. “We went to a zone and extended it out. We were able to limit them and push them off the three-point line. On offense we just didn’t hit shots. We were able to get in the lane but just were not knocking shots down.”
Trailing 35-24, the Bulldogs continued their zone defense in the third quarter and outscored the Broncs 13-6 to trail 41-37 after three. Beau Green attacked the basket and scored 7 points, and Trace Murphey added 4.
“Our zone really limited them,” Lundberg said. “They had a hard time. Their two baskets came on offensive rebounds. Beau was super aggressive in the second half, taking the ball inside and getting his shot off. They were collapsing on the bigs, so Beau was able to drive the lane.”
The Bulldogs kept pulling close in the fourth, but Jackson guard Henry Geraci hit two three-pointers and six of six shots at the foul line. Jackson pulled the ball out to work clock with about three minutes left, Lundberg said, so the Bulldogs pressed the Broncs and were able to force some 10-second calls and capitalize on mistakes. Nic Haskell led the offensive charge with 12 points, dominating inside.
Green, Haskell and Murphey combined for two key plays in the end. With the score tied Green drove the lane and his shot was blocked, but Murphey grabbed the offensive rebound and scored. After Geraci hit two free throws for Jackson to tie the score again, Green brought the ball to the other end, reversed it to the trailing Nic Haskell, then executed a back door cut. Haskell hit him and as Jackson collapsed on the drive with help defense Green dished the ball to Murphey for the winning basket at the buzzer.
Asked if the players were excited, Lundberg said yes, “and so were the coaches,” adding, “It was a good win to get in Jackson, especially the way they shot in the first half.”
Haskell finished with 15 points, seven rebounds and four assists, Green 15 points, four assists and three steals. Murphey added 12 points and four rebounds, hitting six of eight shots from the field.
Riley Abraham 1 1-1 3, Dillon Schneider 0 0-0 0, Jacob Newman 1 0-0 3, Konner Davis 1 0-2 3, Brandon Teter 3 1-1 7, Kaleb Mayes 0 1-2 1, Beau Green 6 1-1 15, Nic Haskell 4 7-9 15, Trace Murphey 6 0-0 12. Totals 22 11-16 59
MacKenzie Hollingsworth 1 0-0 3, Henry Geraci 7 8-10 26, Sam McMullen 0 0-1 0, Erich Elzemeyer 3 1-2 10, Nigel Dice 1 0-0 3, Xander Peterson 6 0-2 13, Colin Finlay 1 0-0 2. Totals 19 9-15 57.
Lovell 18 6 13 22 – 59
Jackson 18 17 6 16 – 57
Three-point field goals – Green 2, Newman 1, Davis 1; Geraci 4, Elzemeyer 3, Dice 1, Peterson 1. Fouled out – none. Total fouls – Lovell 16, Jackson 14.
Win in Afton
The Bulldogs came out strong and dominated the fourth-ranked Star Valley Braves Saturday afternoon in Afton – at least for a while.
Lovell shut out the home team 16-0 in the first quarter and made it 18-0 before the Braves scored, Lundberg said.
“They had a couple of decent looks and couldn’t convert, but we were able to turn them over several times, which was awesome,” the coach said. “Our help side defense was excellent. They would penetrate, but we were able to get a lot of hands on passes. We played man-to-man almost the entire time. We played zone on maybe two possessions.
“On offense we tried to use our size to our advantage. Their biggest guy is 6-1. The guys would penetrate and hit the bigs. The guards were doing a good job getting into the paint where they need to be.”
Five players scored for the Bulldogs in the first quarter led by Haskell with 6 points. Davis and Green each hit a trey during the quarter, as well. The shots didn’t fall as easily for the Bulldogs in the second quarter, but they kept playing hard and led Star Valley 24-9 at halftime.
Lovell led by 16 to 18 points during the third quarter, Lundberg said, but Star Valley top scorer Jake Pierson hit two three-pointers and the Braves cut the deficit to 11 points at the quarter break, 42-31. Chase Erickson also led the comeback for Star Valley with 9 points in the quarter.
“Our kids were pressing a little too much on defense, but to their credit they knocked down the shots,” Lundberg said.
Star Valley scratched back to within one point in the fourth quarter, Lundberg said, but the Bulldogs took a breath, relaxed and took care of the basketball down the stretch. Haskell and Murphey worked inside, and Star Valley took some quick shots, the coach said, noting that Lovell also hit four of five shots at the free throw line in the quarter, pulling away to win by seven, 52-45.
Haskell finished with 20 points (on seven-of-nine shooting), eight rebounds and four blocked shots, Murphey 11 points and Green 10 points eight boards and five assists.
Riley Abraham 0 0-0 0, Dillon Schneider 0 0-0 0, Jacob Newman 1 2-2 4, Konner Davis 1 0-0 3, Brandon Teter 1 2-2 4, Beau Green 4 0-2 10, Nic Haskell 7 6-7 20, Trace Murphey 5 1-2 11. Totals 19 11-15 52.
STAR VALLEY (45)
Jake Pierson 5 1-2 14, Reese Hiibel 2 1-1 5, Darren Allred 3 0-0 7, Chase Erickson 4 3-9 11, Kyler Battleson 0 0-0 0, Mason Erickson 2 0-0 4, Chase Critchfield 2 0-0 4. Totals 18 5-12 45.
Lovell 16 8 18 10 – 52
Star Valley 0 9 22 14 – 45
Three-point field goals – Green 2, Davis 1; Pierson 3, Allred 1. Fouled out – none. Total fouls – Lovell 10, Star Valley 16.
The Bulldogs have only one game this weekend, but it’s a big one as Lovell travels to Lander to meet the conference leading Lander Valley Tigers. Lander is only 5-10 overall but is 2-0 in the 3A Northwest including a 61-54 win at Cody on Jan. 22.
“This is a big one for us,” Lundberg said. “Lander is 2-0 in the Northwest and we are 1-1. It’s important for us to come out and give it our best effort. It’s the only game this week and Lander is the only team on our mind.”
Lander loves to shoot from long range, Lundberg said, noting, “They love to shoot the three ball. They live and sometimes die by it. Trey Massey is an excellent shooter, and the Simpson twins play extremely hard. Dylan Puroll will hit shots. They want to get the ball up the floor and run you out of the gym.
“Jayson Simpson makes them go. You want to limit him; that’s our focus. He distributes the ball and gets to the rim himself. He’s a fantastic basketball player. His brother (Kacey) is also someone to be aware of.”
The Bulldogs can’t get caught up in the frenetic Lander game, Lundberg said.
“They shoot the ball really well in their own gym,” he said. “We must stay the course, keep our composure, play our own game and not get caught up in what they want to do.”
There will be six games in Lander Saturday. At 3 p.m. the freshman boys and junior varsity girls games will be played, followed at 4:30 p.m. by the freshman girls and JV boys games. The varsity girls game will tip off at 6 p.m., followed by the varsity boys at 7:30.
By David Peck