Feb 13, 2012 - By Bruce Tippets Sports EditorThe scoring tandem of Tanner Simpson and Lucas Watkins propelled Lander Valley High School to Class 3-A West boys basketball victories over Jackson on Saturday and Star Valley on Saturday. Both games were at Bob Carey Memorial Fieldhouse.
Simpson scored the final six points for the top-ranked Class 3-A Tigers to complete a come from behind 43-39 victory vs. Jackson. Simpson had four free throws in the final minute.
Jackson's biggest lead of the game was eight points in the third quarter.
"I just tried to focus on my free throws like I do in practice," said Simpson, who finished with 20 points. "There is always pressure, but I just step up like I do in practice and I think that I'm going to make them every time."
The two wins on the weekend pushed LVHS to first in the Class 3-A West conference league at 10-1.
Watkins collected a missed Simpson 3-pointer and put it back in at the buzzer to stun Star Valley 46-44 to begin the weekend homestand.
Simpson had scored the previous four points for LVHS, but the Braves deadlocked the score at 44-44 on a layup with 13.2 seconds left.
The Tigers took a timeout to set up the final trip down the floor.
"I saw Tanner pulling up," Watkins said. "I just turned and got ready to rebound. I knew there would be a little time left. A lot of times there is confusion, and the defense doesn't get set up to rebound."
Watkins finished the contest with 16 points, and Simpson had 15.
The Braves beat LVHS last month in Afton
"It shouldn't come down to the wire like that," Watkins said. "We were excited, but we were relieved. We didn't play great at the end. We made a lot of mistakes. We were able to pull through."
LVHS 43, Jackson 39
Jackson slowed down the tempo in the first half and had a 12-10 lead in the first quarter. In the second quarter, Jackson put in seven points and LVHS managed only five.
"Jackson worked its offense really well in the first half," Simpson said.
LVHS focused going inside in the third quarter, and Watkins had six points. The Tigers took their first lead of the game at the end of the period after Zach Sanders hit a field goal at 28-27.
In the final period, Simpson had eight points and Watkins five.
"It was a rough start for us, but we pulled together at the end," Simpson said.
Watkins was hit with foul trouble in the fourth period. He was called for his fourth foul with three minutes left in regulation and fouled out of the game with 47 seconds left. Watkins scored 11 points in the win.
"We worked really hard in the second half on defense," LVHS coach Terry Hopkin said. "We corrected some things inside after the first half. Our bench helped us out, and I think that Jackson got a little tired at the end."
Lander 46, Star Valley 44
Watkins fired up the big crowd on a 3-pointer at the end of the first quarter for a 12-7 lead.
The Braves tied the score at 20-20, but Sanders hit one a free throw to make it a 21-20 game at the break.
The pace slowed down in the third quarter as Simpson helped with a late field goal in the period to put LVHS up 27-24.
In the start of the fourth, Austin Roberts gave LVHS a five-point lead with seven minutes left in regulation at 29-24.
Sanders scored four straight points to keep the Tigers ahead 35-29. Simpson and Watkins traded off field goals for a nine-point 40-31 advantage. Star Valley rallied with eight consecutive points to make things interesting at 40-39.
Simpson knocked in two points on a field goal and two more on a pair of free throws with 35 seconds left in the game to set up the last few seconds.
Ridge Hillyard led Star Valley with 19 points. Star Valley didn't shoot a free throw in the league loss. LVHS was 12-17 from the line. .
"Star Valley is a great defensive team," Hopkin said. "You want to get out and run, but when Star Valley is giving you one shot and they are in your face when you are shooting the basketball, it's going to be low scoring."
Lander 46, Star Valley 44
LVHS 12 9 6 19 -- 46
SVHS 7 13 4 20 -- 44
Lander -- Zach Sanders 2 1-3 5, Austin Roberts 2 0-0 4, Derek Peil 1 0-0 2, Tanner Simpson 3 (1) 6-6 15, Zac Osborne 2 0-0 4, Casey Winger 0 0-1 0, Lucas Watkins 4 (1) 5-7 16. Totals 28 (6) 12-17 46.
Star Valley -- Tyler Ealey 1 0-0 2, DJ Sims (1) 0-0 3, Pahl Schwab 3 0-0 6, Ridge Hillyard 8 (1) 0-0 19, Wyatt Shinaver 2 (1) 0-0 7. Totals 16 (4) 0-0 44.
Lander 43, Jackson 39
LVHS 10 5 13 15 -- 43
JHS R00;R00;R00;R00;12 7 8 12 -- 39
Lander -- Zach Sanders 1 0-0 2, Austin Roberts 1 0-0 2, Derek Peil 1 0-0 2, Tanner Simpson 7 6-9 20, Zac Osborne 1 0-0 2, Casey Winger 0 0-2 0, Lucas Watkins 5 1-4 11. Totals 18 7-15 15 43.
Jackson -- Tristan Shockley (1) 0-0 3, Jeremy Shockley (1) 2-2 5, Tanner Bent 1 2-2 4, Joe Caesar 8 5-8 21, Matthew Tomlinson 1 0-0 2. Totals 11 (2) 11-14 39.
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