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Chiefs roll to Class 2-A state championship
Mar 10, 2014 - By Randy Tucker, Staff Writer
CASPER -- It was more of a coronation than a championship for Wyoming Indian High School late Saturday night at the Casper Events Center. The Chief boys won the Class 2-A championship in convincing fashion over a scrappy Rocky Mountain squad, 69-53.
The win completed a dream season for the Chiefs, with just a single loss suffered at Big Piney back in January, a loss they avenged twice.
It's the ninth state title for the storied program.
The Chiefs rode to the championship via their familiar pressure defense and opportunistic offense.
"It was a totally different team from the first two nights," Wyoming Indian head coach Craig Ferris said.
Wyoming Indian is talented and deep. Rocky Mountain entered the game from the West regional with a fourth seed. An upset win over Big Horn in the opening round and a double-overtime classic over Pine Bluffs in the semifinals set the stage for a storybook ending but the Chiefs rewrote the last chapter.
Wyoming left no doubt from the opening tip building, a 10-2 lead. A trey by sophomore Noah Valdez with 4:07 left in the first led to a Rocky timeout, but it didn't slow the onslaught.
The Chiefs continued to roll, with Joseph Howell passing inside to Trevor Williamson, Buell Robinson draining a 3-pointer, and Robert Aragon scoring on a follow shot.
Rocky's junior post Kirby Winland was the only consistent offensive spark for the Grizzlies, but the Chiefs' balance was too much. Wilson Clifford ended the opening period with a blazing full-court drive that narrowly beat the buzzer and gave the Chiefs a decisive 21-8 lead.
Jared Mosqueda paced the Chiefs in the second quarter, with Aragon and Williamson scoring in the paint as well, but Rocky Mountain showed good poise and slowly chipped the lead bay to just 10. A Robinson trey with 5:34 to go doubled the score to 28-14.
Back-to-back treys by Robinson ended the half with Wyoming Indian up by 14 at 38-24.
The second half was a blizzard of white as the Chiefs in their home uniforms blazed up and down the floor.
Valdez hit from beyond the arc, Clifford scored in transition, and Williamson pounded away in the paint.
Rocky Mountain rallied to close to 49-37, but the Chiefs rolled on an 8-1 run to end the third.
Valdez and Mosqueda hit treys at 1:53 and :36 to build the lead at the final intermission of the season to 57-38.
Rocky outscored the Chiefs in the final period by just two points, but the damage was done.
The Casper Events Center is not an easy place to shoot from the perimeter, but the Chiefs hit 10 from beyond the arc with the freshman Robinson pouring in six.
Robinson tallied 20 points to lead the Chiefs, with Clifford pouring in a solid 13 and Mosqueda adding 11.
The Chiefs graduate Howell, Williamson, Gardner and Clifford, but have a tremendous amount of talent returning.
"It seems like every year we get a good group of seniors going out and a good group of freshmen coming in," Ferris said.
WIHS 58, Greybull 49
The old adage that semifinal games are always the best of a tournament came true in the early game Friday in Class 2-A between Wyoming Indian and Greybull at the Casper Events Center.
Wyoming Indian overcame an 11-point deficit in the final four minutes of the third and the first few moments of the fourth to hand the Buffs a 58-49 loss. But it was far from easy, and at times the Chiefs were their own worst enemy. Wyoming Indian committed 26 turnovers on the game, including six calls for stepping out of bounds with the ball.
But Chief senior Wilson Clifford played perhaps the best two periods of his career to lead the Wyoming Indian comeback. Clifford tallied 17 of his team-high 19 points in the second half, including 11 of 15 from the free throw line.
Greybull head coach Jim Prather's Buffs played stellar defense in the opening half and set the tone of the game decidedly in Greybull's favor.
While Wyoming Indian is more of a halfcourt defensive team this season versus the run-and-gun, full-court pressure teams the Chiefs have been known for. It was Greybull's patience and deliberation that held the day in the opening minutes.
The game was tied three times with as many lead changes in the opening seven minutes. Greybull built a little cushion as the first quarter came to an end on a full-court drive by guard Kason Clutter. Clutter scored in the paint a few seconds later and the Buffs led 12-6. Wyoming Indian freshman Buell Robinson hit a floater in the lane to end the period with the Chiefs trailing by four.
Greybull played Wyoming Indian to a five-point decision at Ethete six weeks ago, and this semifinal showed all the characteristics of another classic.
The margin remained four points until Jared Mosqueda scored on a quick drive to the basket with 4:49 left in the half. Greybull's 6-4 sophomore post Treston Tracy scored twice to return the gap to four.
Wyoming Indian head coach Craig Ferris set up 1-3-1 trap press, but Greybull attacked it via the angle pass for a pair of layups by Bryce Wright and Paul Stewart as Clutter split the trap and hit each one with a bounce pass.
A buzzer-beating layup by Trevor Williamson closed the gap to 26-20 at the half.
In the third, Greybull quickly built an 11-point advantage on shots by Tracy and Clutter and a driving layup from Ryan Sylvester.
The largely partisan Wyoming Indian crowd grew silent as the Buffs appeared to take control of the game.
Ferris called a timeout with 4:44 left in the third, and it settled the Chiefs substantially.
Wilson Clifford converted a pair of free throws, the first of 11 he eventually hit in the second half, then scored on an old-fashioned 3-point play, followed by a layup, and the lead was cut to 37-35 as the half drew to a close.
Greybull went scoreless for more than six minutes in the third and early fourth quarters as Wyoming Indian continued to roll. Williamson tied the game at 38, and Mosqueda knotted it again at 40 with 5:01 remaining.
Clutter hit a pull-up jumper with 3:38 left for the game's final tie at 42. Robert Aragon connected on a turnaround shot, and Clifford marched steadily to the line, missing just four of his 15 second-half attempts.
Clutter scored from the line for Greybull, but missed more than he made in the final moments. A 3-pointer by Payton Gonzalez with 41 seconds left made it interesting at 53-49, but the Chiefs scored the final five points of the game.
WYOMING INDIAN 21 17 19 12 -- 69
ROCKY MOUNTAIN 8 16 15 14 - 53
Wyoming Indian - Noah Valdez (3) 0-0 9, Jared Mosqueda 4 (1) 0-0 11, Wilson Clifford 4 5-9 13, Joseph Howell 1 0-0 2, Keegan Her Many Horses 1 0-0 2, Buell Robinson 1 (6) 0-0 20, Robert Aragon 2 0-0 4, Trevor Williamson 4 0-2 8. Totals 17 (10) 5-11 69
Rocky Mountain - Xavier Mangus 1 0-2 2, Joey Jewell 2 0-0 4, Bill Despain 3 7-9 13, Kirby Winland 4 1-4 9, Cole Wambeke 2-2 2, Cannon Simmons 5 5-5 15, Cole Simmons 2 2-3 6, Tanner Coleman 2-4 2. Totals 17 19-29 53
WYOMING INDIAN 8 12 15 23 - 58
GREYBULL 12 14 11 12 - 49
Wyoming Indian -- Noah Valdez 1 0-0 2, Jared Mosqueda 3 1-2 7, Wilson Clifford 4 11-15 19, Joseph Howell 1 0-3 2, Tristan Gardner 2-2 2, Buell Robinson 3 (1) 0-2 9, Robert Aragon 1 0-0 2, Trevor Williamson 3-7 15. Totals 19 (1) 17-31 58
Greybull - Payton Gonzalez 1 (1) 0-2 5, Kason Clutter 4 4-8 12, Ryan Sylvester (1) 0-0 3, Paul Stewart 4 0-0 8, Bryce Wright 2 0-0 4, Treston Tracy 7 3-4 17. Totals 18 (2) 7-14 49