Eagles soaring at right time of season

Mar 1, 2017 By Randy Tucker, Staff Writer

High school basketball is all about peaking at the right time.

St. Stephen's head coach Ricky Blackburn's Eagles had a breakthrough at Meeteetse in the final game of the regular season and used that momentum to go 2-1 in the Class 1-A West regional last weekend.

The Eagles didn't play in the third-place game, because tournament rules state that two teams who have faced each other already in the tournament will automatically be seeded third and fourth based on opening-round results.

Farson-Eden edged St. Stephen's by five in the opening round and earned the third seed as a result.

The fourth-place seed puts the Eagles in a challenging opening- round contest in the 1:30 p.m. game at the Casper Events Center on Thursday against top-seeded Kaycee out of the Northeast.

Kaycee enters the tournament on a 14-game win streak and boasts the best record in Class 1-A at 21-3.

The Buckaroos played their closest game of the season, aside from Wyoming Indian, against unbeaten Class 2-A power Pine Bluffs and their only loss in 1-A came at Burlington in a thrilling 51-50 decision to the Huskies.

St. Stephen's, at 65 points per game, is the highest-scoring average in the tournament, with Kaycee second by just less than a point. Kaycee boasts the largest average margin of victory in the tournament.

Kaycee is led in scoring by 6-foot-1 senior Reed Stafford (13.5 points per game), 6-foot-1 junior Mark Largent (11.2), 5-foot-9 senior Nathan Troll (10.6) and 6-foot-1 senior Ethan Garnhart (9.8).

The Buckaroos have no head-toppers, but have balanced size in their top seven with Troll the only player under 6 feet.

St. Stephen's is led in scoring by the familiar quartet of Vincent Brown (16.5 points), Xavier Hubbard (15.3), Antonio Divers (11.5) and Nano Spoonhunter (10.7).

The return of Three Stars Friday after an early season knee injury has lifted the Eagles in the last weeks of the season. As he strengthens, so does St. Stephen's.