News of Riverton, Lander and Fremont County, Wyoming, from the Ranger's award winning journalists.
State Champs! Wyoming Indian downs Lovell
Mar 4, 2012 - By Randy Tucker, Staff Writer
Note: Due to a production error, page C-4 was inadvertently not included in Sunday's Ranger print edition. The story about the Chief's state title jumped to that page, and the entire article is listed here.
CASPER -- The Wyoming Indian Chiefs are due their third fire truck ride in four years.
Wyoming Indian stunned the Lovell Bulldogs, a team that buried them twice in the regular season, to take their third Class 2-A boys state basketball championship in the last four years. The final score was 68-57
The Chiefs simply overpowered the Bulldogs in the second half with quickness, outstanding passing and unparalleled team play.
Huge second half
After trailing by six at the half, the Chiefs erupted for 45 second-half points and cruised past the Bulldogs for the title. The difference in the game came in the third period, when the Chiefs rolled on a 15-2 run.
Wyoming Indian's offense began to kick in like a Ford on a cold morning early in the second half. Alvin Spoonhunter hit a follow shot, and John Soundingsides nailed a short-range jumper off the glass and a 3-pointer moments later to close the gap to five with 4:12 left in the third. A Bulldog timeout did little to slow the momentum change, and the Chiefs continued to roll.
Soundingsides is a versatile player, and one panorama displayed his prowess. Soundingsides stole the ball from Lovell's Colin May, and as he rolled to the floor he called timeout to avoid a traveling call. The 30-second break set-up up fellow senior Ron Mitchell, who was hammered and hit a pair of free throws to cut the deficit to one.
Mitchell stole the ensuing inbounds pass and hit a layup with 3:12 remaining in the third, giving Wyoming Indian the lead for good.
A Wilson Clifford drive and an in-your-face 3-pointer by Soundingsides over Collin McArthur put Wyoming Indian up by four and the largely partisan Chiefs crowd erupted in boisterous applause.
The plays ended a 15-2 Wyoming Indian run, and the title was in hand.
Only May was able to score consistently through the final period for Lovell, as Wyoming Indian caught the larger Bulldogs flat-footed defensively again and again.
Lovell went to its strength in the opening period, taking the ball to the Chiefs in the paint behind 6-6 senior guard Cody Savage. Savage paced the Bulldogs with 11 first-period points and finished the half with 13.
Wyoming Indian battled from the outside or off dribble penetration. Joey Aragon hit a 3-pointer for the Chiefs' first points of the game and added a jump shot a minute later to lift the Chiefs to an early 5-4 advantage. Lovell came back on a follow shot by Savage and baskets from Ryan Clark and Dylan Hultgren.
The Chiefs stayed close on hard-earned jump shots from Soundingsides and Spoonhunter, but Savage paced the Bulldogs down the stretch, including one sequence where he shot and rebounded his own misses three times before finally scoring.
In the second quarter, Soundingsides hit his first trey to close the game to two. The Chiefs gained a big push from sophomore Tyler Penatac, who hit back-to-back shots to close to two with 55 seconds remaining in the half.
Lovell has a host of offensive weapons, and the Bulldogs picked up some breathing room on a shot off the glass by Hultgren and a Clark follow to take a 29-23 lead into the locker room.
With Lovell putting all its effort into stopping Soundingsides he quickly dished out an assist to Joseph Howell on a lob over the Lovell defense as the second half began.
Lovell dominated play in the paint in the opening half but went to the outside shot later, and their size advantage only worked on the offensive boards.
Wyoming Indian head coach Craig Ferris played his two big men, Howell and Trevor Williamson, in tandem for much of the final two periods, and their size negated the half-hearted attempts the Bulldogs did make to get the ball inside.
Soundingsides has played in eight semifinal and championship games on the floor of the Casper Events Center. But his record nearly came to an end Friday night in the hands of another senior, Greybull's Hayden Goton. Goton caught a full court pass with just six seconds left in the game and the nearest Wyoming Indian defender 30 feet away but the 6-4 senior hit the front of the rim on his two foot attempt and the Chiefs survived a late Greybull rally to advance to their fourth straight state-championship game. Wyoming Indian controlled the opening half from the initial play of the game, building a 7-0 lead on baskets by Joey Aragon and Alvin Spoonhunter before Goton hit a free throw with 2:29 left in the opening period.
Soundingsides hit a 3-pointer 29 seconds later and the Chiefs held a comfortable 14-6 lead after one.
In the second the Chiefs continued to pull away on a second Soundingsides trey and another from Wilson Clifford.
Greybull handled Wyoming Indian's pressure well but couldn't convert offensively in the opening half.
That quickly changed in the second half as the Buffs closed to six at the final break.
In the fourth quarter, Austin Frazier split the Wyoming Indian defense and hit a layup with 5:31 left in the game to knot the score at 39. Kason Clutter hit a 3-pointer 31 seconds later, and Greybull took its first lead of the game 42-41.
The lead changed or the score was tied 11 times in the final five minutes of the game. Goton hit a follow shot to lift the Buffs to 45-43 advantage, but Joseph Howell's putback quickly tied the game again. Six consecutive free throws split between Travis Sylvester and Frazier in the final two minutes kept the lead in Greybull's hands.
Soundingsides forced a two-point shot through three Greybull defenders and somehow managed to sink it to keep the Chiefs down by just a single possession.
Greybull's final lead came on Sylvester's two charity shots with 55 seconds left.
Trailing 51-49, Soundingsides took an entry pass with his back to the basket and a triple team of Goton, Sylvester and Frazer. The Wyoming Indian senior has hit more than 400 3-point baskets in his career but none was bigger than the leaping, pirouetting, two-handed shot he hit with 41 seconds left in the game.
In the final seconds Greybull had two possessions, ending in Goton's missed shot, and the Chiefs advanced to the finals.
Much to the chagrin of the rest of Class 2-A the Chiefs are extremely young. Mitchell and Soundingsides are the only graduating players.
WYOMING INDIAN 14 14 6 18 -- 52
GREYBULL 9 13 23 -- 51
Wyoming Indian -- Joey Aragon 4 0-1 8, Wilson Clifford 2 (1) -0 7, Joseph Howell 3 0-2 6, Ron Mitchell 1 2-2 4, Alvin Spoonhunter 4 3-4 11, John Soundingsides 3 (3) 0-1 15, Trevor Williamson 1-2 1. Totals 17 (4) 6-12 52
Greybull -- Payton Gonzalez 1 0-0 2, Austin Frazier 3 (1) 2-3 11, Edward DeCabooter 1 0-0 2, Wyatt Good (1) 1-4 4, Kason Clutter 2 (1) 0-0 7, Quinton Haley 1 0-2 2, Travis Sylvester 6-6 6, Paul Stewart 1-2 1, Neil Getzfreid 3 0-2 6, Hayden Goton 4 2-4 10. Totals 15 (3) 12-23 51
WYOMING INDIAN 13 10 24 21 -- 68
LOVELL 21 8 10 18 -- 57
Wyoming Indian -- Tyler Penatac 2 00 4, Joey Aragon 1 (1) 0-0 5, Wilson Clifford 5 2-3 12, Joseph Howell 2 1-4 5, Ron Mitchell 2 2-2 6, Alvin Spoonhunter 5 2-4 12, John Sounding Sides 4 (3) 3-4 20, Trevor Williamson 2 0-0 4. Totals 23 (4) 10-17 68
Lovell -- Colin May 2 (2) 3-4 13, McKayan May 3 0-1 6, Morgan Baxendale 1-2 1, Dylan Hultgren 3 0-0 6, Ryan Clark 7 0-0 14, Cody Savage 7 3-4 17. Totals 22 (2) 7-11 57