Mar 4, 2012 - By Randy Tucker, Staff WriterNote: Due to a production error, page C-4 was inadvertently not included in Sunday's Ranger print edition. The Cougar's third place state finish was featured on that page, and the entire article is listed here.
CASPER -- It's been 37 years since the Wind River Cougars played in a state championship basketball game and, it will be at another year until they do again.
Lovell jumped all over Wind River in the second period Friday night at the Casper Events Center, building a huge lead to take a 79-52 win over the Cougars.
On Saturday, it took an extra four minutes for the Cougars to finally put Greybull away 68-65 in overtime in the Class 2-A third-place game.
Friday's battle with Lovell marked the second time the two teams faced each other this season. In the first outing Wind River's man-to-man defense dominated the Bulldogs, and Wind River cruised to a nine-point win. That didn't Friday in Casper.
The Cougars opened a brief 6-2 lead with free throws from Ryan Weliever and baskets by Tyson Lone Bear and Jesse Brown. Lovell wasn't impressed and rolled on the first of four devastating runs to take a 14-6 lead. The 12-0 burst came on the stellar inside play of Lovell's 6-6 guard Cody Savage.
Savage hit seven of eight from the floor on hook shots, reverse post moves and short jumpers. Dylan Hultgren hit a 3-pointer, and Colin May ran the floor for the Bulldogs from the point position.
A 15-1 Bulldog run opened the second period, with May hitting a pair of treys and Ryan Clark and Savage dominating the Cougars in the paint. Trailing 31-13 with 4:53 left in the half, the shell-shocked Cougars couldn't find an answer. Lovell led by a surprising 26 points at the half.
All that was missing in the third period was a moving orchestral score as the Cougars erupted for 28 points in the period and made it a game again.
Wind River rolled via the 3-ball through the third and early fourth quarters. Wagon hit four of his five treys in the run, with Brown and Lone Bear each adding another.
Lovell's boisterous crowd grew silent as the incredible loomed on the horizon. Wind River closed to 57-52 with 6:49 left in the game on a Lone Bear transition basket.But the Hollywood ending fell to the cutting-room floor two minutes later when Brown fouled out.
Without their point guard on the floor the Cougars were obliterated in the final four minutes of the game on a 22-0 run by the Bulldogs. For the third time in five years the Cougars played the third place game at Casper College after falling in the semifinals, and they've won all three.
Maybe the Cougars just weren't ready to end the season as Greybull rolled back on a 14-3 run in the final 4:08 of regulation to tie the game at 61.
Wind River led from the onset with great outside shooting in the opening minutes. Wagon and Lone Bear each hit a pair of treys as the long ball accounted for 12 of Wind River's 17 first-period points.
Greybull sophomore Kason Clutter hit back to back shots to open the second quarter, and Austin Frazier converted a pair of free throws to give the Buffs a brief 21-19 lead.
Brown tied the game again at 21 on a put back. Another flurry of treys gave the Cougars a 31-26 advantage at the half as Brown, Lone Bear and Wagon all hit from beyond the arc.
Wind River led by 11 at the end of the third and looked to be on cruise control into the final period when Greybull came roaring back. Follow shots by Neil Getzfreid and Hayden Goton, along with drives by Travis Sylvester and Frazier put the game back in reach.
A Frazier trey with 1:21 left closed the gap to 60-56. Clutter hit the first of two free throws but missed the second, snagged his own rebound, and tied the game at 61 on the ensuing shot.
Brown missed a 12 foot shot in the paint, and Sylvester narrowly missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer. The game went to overtime.
In the extra period Greybull's entire offensive effort came from the free-throw line, where the Buffs hit five of eight opportunities.
Wind River tied the game on a Brown drive with 1:02 remaining at 65, then took the lead for good on a pair of Wagon free throws. Ryan Weliever stole a Greybull outlet pass at halfcourt and was hammered to the floor. He hit one of two from the line on the ensuing shots and Greybull's final desperation heave was negated on a traveling call.
Wind River concludes the season with the second-best overall record in school history at 26-3 and graduates three seniors in Brown, Lone Bear and Joe Tidzump.
WIND RIVER 11 5 28 8 -- 52
LOVELL 17 25 15 22 -- 79
Wind River -- Ward Gordon 2 0-0 4, Ryan Weliever 1 4-8 6, Tyson Lone Bear 5 (1) 1-2 14, Roger Wagon 2 (5) 2-2 21, Jesse Brown 1 (1) 2-2 7. Totals 11 (7) 9-14 52
Lovell -- Colin May 4 (3) 5-9 22, Collin McArthur (1) 2-2 5, Steven Pickett 1 2-2 4, Hunter Hinckley 2-4 2, McKayan May 1 0-0 2, Brandon Wolvington 1 0-0 2, Morgan Baxendale 2 2-6 6, Dylan Hultgren 2 (2) 2-2 12, Ryan Clark 3 0-0 6, Cody Savage 7 4-6 18. Totals 21 (6) 19-31 79
WIND RIVER 16 15 20 10 7 -- 68
GREYBULL 15 11 9 21 4 -- 65
Wind River - Joe Tidzump 1 0-0 2, Joe Lupher 1-2 1, Tyson Lone Bear 6 (3) 1-2 22, Roger Wagon 3 (4) 3-5 21, Jesse Brown 7 (1) 0-0 17, Tyler Rupe 1-5 1. Totals 18 (8) 8-18 68
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