Grizz start conference play with a sweep

After forging a 9-4 record and reaching fifth place in the Class 2A rankings, the Rocky Mountain Grizzlies turned their attention to conference play over the weekend as they stopped Riverside and Greybull to start 2-0 in the 2A Northwest.

Playing at home Friday night, the Grizz clobbered Riverside 57-25 as nine players contributed to the point total. Rocky dominated the game from the start, rolling to a 17-2 lead after the first quarter led by Taylor Winland with 8 points and Jess Wambeke with 5.

“The game was a good opportunity to practice our full-court pressure,” coach Pat Winland said. “Taylor was able to get some good looks, and turnovers gave us extra possessions.”

Nathan Oster photo
Rocky sophomore Tyler Banks fires up a shot during the Grizzlies’ 67-50 win over the Greybull Buffs Saturday in Greybull as a Greybull defender blocks the shot.

The Grizz made only one basket in the second quarter, a bucket by Wambeke, but they made eight of nine free throws en route to a 27-9 halftime lead.

“It was one of those games where, for the kids, it wasn’t fun to play in and for me, it wasn’t fun to coach,” Winland said. “You almost try too hard to make things happen.”

The Grizzlies dominated the third quarter 17-8 to lead 44-17 after three, and Winland emptied his bench in the fourth quarter as Rocky went on to win 57-25.

“Conference win number one,” Winland noted.

Taylor Winland led the team with 13 points and 9 rebounds.

“He’s starting to move a lot better offensively and defensively,” Coach Winland said.

Zane Horrocks added 12 points, 10 in the fourth quarter, and Wambeke finished with 11 points on five-of-seven shooting from the field, adding four steals and three assists.

Ethan Price contributed 7 points, four rebounds and three steals, and Zach Simmons had 5 points, four steals and four assists.

The Grizz shot well within the arc (52 percent), but hit just two of 16 three-point attempts on a cold shooting night.

RIVERSIDE (25)

Ryan Miller 1 0-0 2, Haden Duncan 2 1-4 6, Ryan Vigil 0 0-0 0, Matthew Gesch 3 3-3 9, Garret Ellis-Rudd 1 0-2 2, Cash Duncan 1 0-0 2, Jordan Mautz 0 2-4 2, Tyler Turner 1 0-0 2. Totals 9 6-13 25.

ROCKY MTN. (57)

Ethan Price 2 2-2 7, Talon Grant 0 1-2 1, Dominic Estes 1 0-0 2, Trevor Jewell 0 0-0 0, Jess Wambeke 5 1-2 11, Dawson May 0 0-1 0, Taylor Winland 5 3-3 13, Tyler Banks 1 1-1 3, Trace Moss 1 0-0 3, Zach Simmons 0 5-7 5, Zane Horrocks 3 6-12 12, Brandon Robison 0 0-0 0. Totals 18 19-28 57.

Riverside   2      7      8      8 – 25

Rocky Mt. 17    10    17    13 – 57

Three-point field goals – H. Duncan 1; Price 1, Moss 1. Fouled out – Mautz. Total fouls – Riverside 21, Rocky Mtn. 14.

Road win

Like the night before, the Grizzlies came out strong in Greybull and built an 18-8 lead by the end of the first quarter. Ethan Price cashed a pair of three-pointers on his way to 8 points, and Taylor Winland added 6. Wambeke drained a trey, then went down hard on a defensive play and didn’t score again with an elbow injury, though he did dish off four assists.

Both teams scored 14 points in the second quarter as Rocky led 32-22 at halftime. The Grizzlies could have extended their lead had they not missed nine free throws in the quarter, Winland noted.

“They came out and played us with their 2-3 zone, which we expected,” Winland said. “We installed a new zone offense over the last couple of weeks that provides more movement overall, especially in the post, and also gets Ethan on the move so he’s not as easy to guard on the perimeter, which frees everybody else.

“I felt before the game we really needed to get out in front of them and maintain separation through the whole game. The closest they got in the second quarter was 24-16, and then we led 30-16 and 32-22 at halftime. Not making our free throws hurt us.”

The Grizzlies maintained an eight- to 10-point lead for most of the third quarter, Winland said, until a late Greybull push chopped the lead to six at the quarter break, 45-39. Greybull pulled to within four points, 45-41, early in the fourth quarter, but Zach Simmons nailed a three-pointer, and the Grizz went on to outscore Greybull 22-11 in the fourth quarter to win 67-50.

“Any time they got within striking distance Zach would hit a three,” Winland said. “The kids were looking for Taylor inside, and he made a lot of passes to Zach and Tyler on back-door cuts after they went man-to-man.”

Taylor Winland had a double double with 19 points and 10 rebounds, hitting eight of 12 shots from the field. He also had four assists.

Simmons had a bounce-back game with 17 points on five-of-eight shooting, and Price added 14 points, Banks 8 points, four rebounds and three assists. The Grizzlies shot much better Saturday, shooting 53 percent from the field overall, including a strong 47 percent (7-15) from beyond the arc.

Winland also noted positive minutes off the bench from Trace Moss, Bronson Robison and Zane Horrocks, noting that they are “starting to solidify their roles and do what’s asked of them.”

ROCKY MTN. (67)

Ethan Price 5 1-1 14, Jess Wambeke 1 0-0 3, Taylor Winland 8 3-5 19, Tyler Banks 2 4-6 8, Trace Moss 0 1-2 1, Zach Simmons 5 4-5 17, Zane Horrocks 1 1-4 3, Branson Robison 1 0-4 2. Totals 23 14-27 67.

GREYBULL (50)

B. Clark 1 0-2 2, Z. Keisel 1 1-2 3, I. Thuesen 2 2-2 6, Brock Hill 7 2-2 16, B. Kraft 1 4-6 7, B. Tracy 6 0-0 14, G. Hunt 1 0-0 2. Totals 19 9-14 50.

Rocky Mt. 18    14    13    22 – 67

Greybull   8    14    17    11 – 50

Three-point field goals – Price 3, Simmons 3, Wambeke 1; Tracy 2, Kraft 1. Fouled out – Clark. Total fouls – Rocky 11, Greybull 18.

On the road

The Grizz will travel to Sheridan County this weekend to meet the Tongue River Eagles in a conference game Friday at 7 p.m. and Big Horn Saturday at 3 p.m.

Winland said the Grizz must secure the conference win first, then turn their attention to the fourth-ranked Rams, who are currently 10-2.

“It’s another opportunity to play a ranked team,” he noted, adding that the Rams are “big and solid – and experienced.”

By David Peck

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