Feb 26, 2012 - By Randy Tucker Staff WriterTyson Lone Bear put the exclamation point on Wind River's Class 2-A West regional championship with a breakaway slam dunk in the final seconds of the game that brought the house down.
The Cougars survived a furious Wyoming Indian comeback to take the entertaining contest 65-57.
Wind River opens state tournament play on Thursday at noon against the loser of the Burns/Big Horn game. Wyoming Indian plays at 7:30 p.m. against the winner of that same game at Casper College.
"I'm just happy for the kids," Wind River Head Coach Tony Selph said.
2-2 on the season
For those scoring at home... round four goes to Wind River. The win evens the series between the two fierce county rivals this season. Both won by more than 20 points in earlier meetings, but the Chiefs took a close win a week ago at Pavillion. The Cougars returned the favor Saturday.
There are many ways to win a championship but the most reliable method is to play solid defense for 32 minutes. Wind River didn't quite get the full 32 minutes in the book but the Cougars played defense at key junctures throughout the game.
Senior Jesse Brown tallied only one point in the title game. but his defense of potent scoring phenom John Soundingsides was stellar. After scoring 23 and 33 points in his first two tournament games, "Johnny Sides" was held to 15 on Saturday.
Offensively, the Cougars picked up 58 of their 65 points in just two players. Tyson Lone Bear scored in every conceivable way in leading all scorers with 31 points. Roger Wagon trailed narrowly behind with 27, including five 3-pointers.
The game opened with Lone Bear hitting two free throws before the clock even started after Wyoming Indian players were given a technical foul for dunking during warmups.
Lone Bear hit a long 2-point shot seconds later. and the Cougars were up by four immediately. Wyoming Indian answered in very familiar fashion, with Soundingsides hitting a 3-pointer. Wyoming Indian sophomore Joseph Howell hit a traditional 3-point play to tie the game 6-6, and the Chiefs were off on an early run.
Wyoming Indian led 15-10 on a pair of Joey Aragon layups and another Soundingsides trey. Soundingsides was fouled by Brown as the buzzer sounded and awarded three free throws but missed all three standing alone at the line in front of the 3,000 fans in attendance.
Wagon heats up
Firing away from the perimeter, Wagon missed his first six shots but was undeterred. He finally nailed one with 6:39 left in the second, and added two more before the halftime buzzer sounded. In between, Aragon and Trevor Williamson scored inside, and the Chiefs led by as many as eight before the Cougars rallied on a late run to end the half.
Ryan Weliever hit a follow shot, and Wagon stole the ball and passed it to Lone Bear for a quick score. He stole it again and scored himself. The flurry gave the Cougars the lead at 33-28 on a 6-0 run in less than 11 seconds.
The third period continued the onslaught, as the Cougars opened the first 90 seconds of play on a 10-0 run. Wagon and Lone Bear each hit a trey and added a layup in the spurt.
A pair of Ward Gordon jumpers, three layups from Lone Bear, and a coast-to-coast Wagon steal and layup gave the Cougars an impressive 53-32 leads with 2:26 remaining in the third.
The period ended with Wind River on top 55-39.
Soundingsides warmed up in the fourth, shaking free for back-to-back treys, the second so deep that he fell into the bleachers after letting it fly.
A long scoop shot from Lone Bear gave the Cougars a 15-point lead with 6:07 left in the game, but Howell, Soundingsides and Wilson Clifford all tallied shots to close the gap to six with under two minutes in the game.
Wind River went to the delay. The Chiefs had only four team fouls and had to waste precious time in getting the Cougars to the line. Wagon drove in for a layup when Wyoming Indian defenders overplayed a pass, and the Cougars led by eight with 53 seconds left.
Alvin Spoonhunter hit a follow shot and the Chiefs crashed the boards on the next possession which left Lone Bear wide open on an early release. He dribbled four times and pounded the ball through the hoop on the dunk, and the Cougars were regional champions for the second time since the inauguration of the current regional concept.
The 2012 Class 2-A West regional turned out to be one of the most-balanced in the history of the
tournament on the boys side of the bracket.
Wind River and Wyoming Indian advanced to the championship game, but it wasn't an easy road for either team.
The Chiefs survived a challenge from Greybull in opening-round action, then overcame a 10 point deficit in the opening minutes of the game to take top-ranked Lovell 72-64.
Wind River had an almost identical path, with a battle against Riverside in the opening round before holding off a strong inside game from Kemmerer in a 60-48 semifinal win.
Earlier this season the Cougars edged Kemmerer in Lincoln County by two points and had an easier time at home, but the Rangers were ready Friday night and focused on working the ball inside with their decided height advantage.
Wind River couldn't shake Kemmerer in the opening half, and a battle developed between 6-5 Cruz Martinez for the Rangers and Wind River's 6-2 Ryan Weliever. Weliever gave up about 60 pounds to Martinez in the post as well.
With the two centers pounding away in the paint, the game switched to outside shooting and quick drives by Kemmerer's AJ Nishi ,along with the familiar play of Jesse Brown, Tyson Lone Bear and Roger Wagon for the Cougars.
The long ball was the difference in the game, with the Cougars hitting seven from beyond the arc, paced by three from Wagon, two by Lone Bear and a single 3-pointer each by Weliever and Brown.
Wind River led the entire opening half but Nishi hit a trey with 2:17 left in the half to tie the game at 27, Brown answered 20 seconds later and the Cougars put on a brief flurry to lead by four at the half.
The Cougars maintained a seven to 10 point lead through the third but the battle in the paint intensified. Martinez lifted Weliever out of the way on a couple of possession with one arm to gain possession, while Weliever tipped, challenged or altered nearly every shot by Cruz, the Kemmerer big man.
With the game in hand and a 10-point lead the Cougars dazzled the largely partisan crowd with a bullet from Lone Bear to Brown and a behind-the-back to a wide-open Ward Gordon for the final points of the game.
Lovell dominated Wyoming Indian during the regular season with a pair of 30-plus point wins but tournament play is a different animal. The Bulldogs looked to repeat the previous two blowouts in the opening period with a furious 10-run in the first 2:22 of the game.
Cody Savage scored on a step-through move ,with Ryan Clark adding a pair of baskets, Dylan Hultgren tallying one more, and point guard Colin May outrunning the Chiefs for an uncontested layup.
The final shot brought a time out from Wyoming Indian head coach Craig Ferris, and the strategy session paid quick dividends.
The John Soundingsides show began in earnest.
Soundingsides hit a layup then was fouled on a 3-point attempt and hit all three charities. He added a fadeaway jumper, and the Chiefs were back in it 10-7. Joseph Howell scored, and Alvin Spoonhunter gave the Chiefs their first lead at 13-12 on a jumper. Seconds later Spoonhunter drained a 3-pointer, and the Chiefs finished a blistering 16-2 run for a four-point lead.
Treys from Ron Mitchell, Sounding Sides and Spoonhunter negated Lovell's size advantage defensively but the Bulldogs went hard to the post and the contrasting styles ended the first period tied at 25.
Eight ties or lead changes delighted the capacity crowd in the third period. The half ended with Soundingsides completing a dashing, dribble-drive, fadeaway 3-pointer from 25 feet out as the buzzer sounded.
The lead didn't hold long in the second half. Lovell tied the game at 44 on a Colin May drive.
Ferris experimented in the third with a pair of posts in the game. Trevor Williamson has improved throughout the season and the 6-5 Chief played well with 6-4 Howell in tandem. Both return next season.
With the young posts holding their own in the paint and Soundingsides blazing away from the perimeter, the Chiefs built a 13-point lead by the end of the third.
Lovell roared back on a 7-0 run to open the final period behind the play of May and Savage.
With a narrow four-point lead Soundingsides found Joey Aragon on a fast-break layup, followed by a crucial charge taken by Wilson Clifford from Morgan Baxendale with 3:23 remaining.
The final seconds came down to free throw shooting and Soundingsides came through hitting four in a row to send the Chiefs to the title game.
WIND RIVER 15 20 15 10 -- 60
KEMMERER 12 19 11 6 -- 48
Wind River -- Ward Gordon 1 1-3 3, Joe Tidzump 0-2 0, Ryan Weliever 4 (1) 1-6 12, Tyson Lone Bear 5 (2) 4-6 20, Roger Wagon 2 (3) 0-0 13, Jesse Brown 3 (1) 1-2 10, Tyler Rupe 1 0-0 2. Totals 16 (7) 7-19 60
Kemmerer -- Stephen Fagnant 1 3-6 5, Brady Magee 1 0-0 2, A.J. Nishi 3 (2) 5-6 17, Trever Simpson 1 0-0 2, Tre Deeter 1 2-3 4, Brock Annala 5 0-0 10, Cruz Martinez 4 0-0 8. Totals 16 (2) 10-15 48
WYOMING INDIAN 25 15 24 8 -- 72
LOVELL 25 12 14 13 -- 64
Wyoming Indian -- Joey Aragon 2 (1) 0-2 7, Wilson Clifford 3 0-0 6, Joseph Howell 1 3-7 5, Ron Mitchell (1) 0-0 3, Alvin Spoonhunter 2 (3) 0-12 13, John Soundingsides 5 (5) 8-11 33, Trevor Williamson 1 3-4 5. Totals 14 (10) 14-26 72
Lovell -- Colin May 6 (2) 2-2 20, Collin McArthur 1 0-0 2, McKayan May (1) 0-2 3, Morgan Baxendale 3 3-3 9, Dylan Hultgren 3 0-0 6, Ryan Clark 4 1-1 9, Cody Savage 6 3-4 15. Totals 23 (3) 9-12 64 88
WIND RIVER 12 21 22 10 -- 65
WYOMING INDIAN 15 13 11 18 -- 57
Wind River -- Ward Gordon 2 0-0 4, Ryan Weliever 1 0-0 2, Tyson Lone Bear 11 (2) 3-5 31, Roger Wagon 5 (5) 2-2 27, Jesse Brown 1-2 1. Totals 19 (7) 6-10 65
Wyoming Indian -- Joey Aragon 6 0-0 12, Wilson Clifford 2 3-6 7, Joseph Howell 6 2-4 14, Ron Mitchell 1 0-0 2, Alvin Spoonhunter 1 0-0 2, John Soundingsides 1 (4) 1-5 15, Trevor Williamson 2 1-2 5. Totals 19 (4) 7-17 57
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