Feb 28, 2012 - By Randy Tucker, Staff WriterWhen Wyoming Indian and Wind River take the floor Thursday at Casper College against Burns and Big Horn in the Class 2-A state boys basketball tournament, the eastern teams may be in for some big surprises.
Not surprisingly, with more 300 miles of Wyoming real estate separating the two teams, there are just a couple of common opponent for the Chiefs and Broncs.
Burns beat the Shoshoni Wranglers at home early in the season, 57-38, while the Chiefs beat the Wranglers 80-62 on the road and walloped them 116-42 at Ethete. The Wright Panthers are another common foe, with Burns edging Wright 49-40 and the Chiefs blowing them out 86-45 early in the season.
Burns is a strong team, resembling a group of tight ends playing basketball, but they like to run the floor. They have balanced size with starters ranging from 6-1 to 6-3.
Junior Colton Wright is a top player and a three-year starter. Wright does it all for the Broncs as a rebounder, scorer and passer. He is considered their best defender and may be forced to defend Wyoming Indian's John Soundingsides if the Chiefs can shoot the Broncs out of their typical zone defense.
Travis Romsa is a 6-3 sophomore who plays the low block and should be an interesting matchup with Wyoming Indian posts Trevor Williamson and Joseph Howell.
Brodie Ecklund, a 6-1 senior, plays the perimeter but is the best jumper on the team. Ecklund kept the Broncs' state tournament berth alive with four straight defensive plays in the loser out game last Saturday in Torrington.
Burns coach Shawn Patterson plays nine to 10 players every game and may need to if the Chiefs can get them in a running game.
The Chiefs face the Broncs at 7:30 p.m. at Casper College.
Wind River opponent
Wind River and Big Horn are much more familiar opponents. The Cougars had no trouble with the Rams back in December at Pavillion, taking an easy 80-57 win. Common opponents abound with Lovell, Riverside, Wright, Greybull and Riverside all losing to Wind River but all beating Big Horn. Wyoming Indian beat the Rams as well and split four games with the Cougars so far.
Quick shooting and offensive rebounding sums up the Big Horn offense. The Rams usually shoot within eight seconds. Many of their points come on follow shots, as all five players crash the boards.
Matt Wigglesworth plays the point and has developed into one of the best passers in the east this season. Connor McCafferty, a 6-2 sophomore has come on as well through the season.
The Rams will have their hands full with Wind River's outside shooting by junior Roger Wagon and senior Tyson Lone Bear. Add the quickest first step in Class 2-A in Jesse Brown, the post play of Ryan Weliever, and the defensive role playing skills of Ward Gordon, Tyler Rupe and Joe Tidzump, and the Cougars may be too much or the Rams in their noon opener at Casper College.
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