The Wind River Cougars were hitting on all cylinders and at the same time threw a monkey wrench into the Rocky Mountain offensive machine Friday afternoon in Worland as the Cougars defeated the Grizzlies 79-54.
Wind River jumped on the Grizz early to lead 22-6 after the first quarter. Rocky hung tough in the second quarter, outscored by only three, 20-17, to trail 42-23 at halftime, but Wind River pulled away with a 23-15 advantage in the third to lead 65-38 after three. Rocky edged Wind River 16-14 in the fourth.
“They just wanted it a little more,” Rocky coach Michael Simmons said. “They shot it better than they did in the Shoshoni tournament and had more three-pointers and three-point attempts.
“They obviously had a better week of practice than we did and took it to us. We went away from stuff we’ve been working on. They kept the pressure on us continuously, which took us out of our sets. They were aggressive and up in our faces.”
Simmons said his still learning team must be ready to deal with defensive pressure in future games.
“It’s a credit to Wind River. They forced us to do different things offensively,” he said. “We need to get better at running our stuff under adverse conditions. It will come. It’s still early in the season. I’m confident we’ll get where we need to get. We need to create a better second five to practice against. With low numbers, practices aren’t as competitive.”
Simmons said Wind River’s full- and half-court man-to-man pressure took the Grizzlies out of their offense, which resulted in players trying to create offense on their own. The result was a season low six assists.
“As coaches we need to work on keeping our offenses working,” he said. “When you try to dribble out of it (man pressure), the offense becomes stagnant. The result is six assists.
“We did some good things, too. We got to the free-throw line (17 attempts) better than the last game.”
The Grizz also out-rebounded Wind River 27-26.
Tristan Jewell led the Grizzlies with 14 points and six rebounds, and Colby Davison added 13 points, Cole Simmons 11 points and Ethan Price 10. Simmons and Jonathan Allred grabbed five rebounds each.
The Grizzlies had 21 turnovers to Wind River’s 12. Wind River shot 52.5 percent from the field to Rocky’s 35.1 percent.
The Grizzlies are now preparing for the annual Big Horn Basin Classic tournament to be played in four locations: boys in Cody and Powell, girls in Thermopolis and Worland.
The Grizz will open play Thursday, Jan. 5, at 7 p.m. against the Class 3A Powell Panthers in Powell and will play either Greybull or Thermopolis in the following game with the winners to meet at 4:30 p.m. and the losers at 3 p.m. Friday, Jan. 6, in Powell.
“We’re looking forward to that game (Powell),” Simmons said. “I think we’ll match up well with them. It should be a good game. We’ll see how the break went for us. We’re excited for the opportunity.”
WIND RIVER (79)
D. Shoyo 6 0-0 16, J. Trumble 8 4-5 20, X. Oates 4 0-0 10, J. Guina 1 0-0 3, B. Hoopengarner 1 0-0 2, T. Tidzump 10 2-3 22, J. Trumble 2 1-2 5, Vogel 0 1-2 1. Totals 32 8-12 79.
ROCKY MTN. (54)
Ethan Price 4 1-2 10, Scott Banks 1 0-0 2, Cole Simmons 4 2-2 11, Tristan Jewell 5 4-4 14, Lathan May 0 0-0 0, Travis Simmons 0 0-0 0, Colby Davison 4 5-7 13, Jonathan Allred 2 0-2 4. Totals 20 12-17 54.
Wind River 22 20 23 14 – 79
Rocky Mtn. 6 17 15 16 – 54
Three-point field goals – Shoyo 4, Oates 2, Guina 1; Price 1, C. Simmons 1. Fouled out – Allred. Total fouls – Rocky 18, Wind River 17.
By David Peck