Mar 1, 2012 - Randy Tucker, Staff WriterUPDATE 9:20 p.m.
Note: Wind River will play Lovell in the state semi-final game Friday.
Other first round scores:
Lovell 66, Sundance 35
Wyoming Indian 75, Burns 53
CASPER -- It wasn't the best shooting performance of the season for Wind River, but there is an old adage in state tournament play: "survive and advance."
That's what the Cougar boys did in an ugly 61-49 opening-round win over Big Horn Thursday afternoon. The win sends the Cougars to the semifinals against either Lovell or Sundance at 7:30 p.m. Friday at the Casper Events Center.
A pair of quick bursts highlighted the Cougar effort in the opening half. Wind River trailed 5-4 before Roger Wagon hit a 3-pointer with 5:05 left in the first. The Cougars missed their first six attempts from beyond the arc prior to that shot but warmed up briefly.
A cold spell ensued for more than three minutes, with neither team scoring. The ice broke for the Cougars on a Jesse Brown trey with 1:40 remaining in the first quarter, followed by a Tyson Lone Bear layup and another shot by Brown separated by just four seconds.
Wind River led 14-7 after one period.
The Cougars threatened to blow open the game early in the second when Ward Gordon hit a layup and Joe Tidzump stole the ensuing inbound pass for another basket in just two seconds. The flurry gave the Cougars a 21-7 lead that prompted a Big Horn timeout.
Big Horn's Deven Ibach beat the buzzer on a coast-to-coast drive capped by a finger roll to end the half with Wind River leading 26-18.
Wind River struggled in the third, missing shot after shot and letting the Rams back into the contest. Big Horn closed to 26-22 on baskets from Matthew Wigglesworth as the Cougars continued to struggle both inside and out offensively.
On the game the normally hot shooting Cougars hit only 20 percent from beyond the arc and hit just 3 of 13 free throw attempts.
The only bright spot offensively for Wind River through most of the third period was junior guard Ward Gordon. Gordon beat his man on the baseline three times for layups, keeping the Cougars ahead by four for most of the quarter.
Wind River head coach Tony Selph decided to give his starters a bit of rest in the final two minutes of the third with Brodie Miller, Tyler Rupe and Joe Lupher all giving the Cougars quality minutes off the bench.
Just as Big Horn thought it had a chance, the Cougars finally scored in a big way on a three-quarter court shot by Brown that hit nothing but net as the third-quarter buzzer sounded.
Leading by 10 entering the final period, the Cougars erupted on a 9-2 run to take control of the game.
Lone Bear, Wagon and Brown all hit off dribble penetration ,with Brown adding a 3-pointer with 4:03 left as the Cougars took control 53-36.
Three stolen inbound passes and another pair of layups put the game away for Wind River.
WIND RIVER 14 12 18 17 -- 61
BIG HORN 7 11 16 15 - 49
Wind River -- Ward Gordon 4 0-0 8, Joe Tidzump 1 0-0 2, Clayton Reinick 0-1 0, Ryan Weliever 1 0-0 2, Drew Antone 2 0-0 4, Tyson Lone Bear 6 2-3 14, Roger Wagon 5 (1) 0-12 13, Jesse Brown 4 (3) 1-5 18. Totals 23 (4) 3-13 61
Big Horn -- Bryce Williams 2 0-0 4, Colter Carzoli (1) 0-0 3, Matthew Wigglesworth 4 4-9 12, Branden Krosschel 1-1 1, Connor McCafferty 2-4 2, Ben Chapman 2 0-0 4, Tony Mort 5 2-2 12, Deven Ibach 4 0-1 8, Kaul Eisele (1) 0-0 3. Totals 17 (2) 9-17 49
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