Jan 27, 2013 - By Randy Tucker, Sports WriterETHETE -- One thing basketball fans can take away from Saturday's rematch between the Lovell Bulldogs and the homes standing Wyoming Indian Chiefs is that both are without compare in all of Class 2-A. In a battle of No. 1 verses No. 2 in the rankings, the Bulldogs lived up to their top billing with an entertaining 68-61 win.
The win leaves the Bulldogs unbeaten against 2-A competition and ends a 16-game win streak by the Chiefs dating back to their season opener in November against the same Lovell team.
In another streak-ending contest, the Lovell junior varsity edged the Wyoming Indian JV by four points ending a 43-game winning streak at home by the younger Chiefs.
Saturday's game came down to a team effort by the Chiefs against an outstanding individual game from Lovell's 6-7 forward, Cody Savage.
At times the Chiefs were able to stop Savage in the low block, but most of Lovell's possessions had the ball in his hands inside the paint.
Wyoming Indian took an early lead on the quickness of junior Wilson Clifford and the outside shooting of senior Alvin Spoonhunter.
The duo built a 7-4 lead, only to see it fade away with short jump shots from Dylan Hultgren and Savage's play inside.
Wyoming Indian's own low-post tandem of Joseph Howell and Trevor Williamson kept the Bulldogs honest, forcing them to take outside shots when they were able to deny the ball to Savage, and the score remained close throughout the opening half.
Spoonhunter hit a second 3-pointer with 2:32 left in the first, but Lovell held a one-point advantage until Clifford blazed in on a drive to give the Chiefs a 16-15 lead after one.
Savage, Hultgren and Ryan Clark tallied all of Lovell's second-period points, but Howell had an answer in the post with back-to-back power moves to the basket. Spoonhunter hit back-to-back 3-pointers with 40 and 11 seconds left in the half to give the Chiefs a 31-27 advantage at intermission.
Joey Aragon hit a floater for Wyoming Indian ,and Clifford glided in on a stellar step-through move to keep the Chiefs ahead in the early going but Clark hit a layup with 4:41 left in the third and the Bulldogs regained the lead at 36-35.
The Chiefs never regained the lead, and Lovell built a seven-point cushion on shots by Clark and Savage as the third drew to a close.
Trailing by seven to open the final period, the Chiefs went to their bench. Tristan Gardner responded with a trey to close the game to 48-44. Williamson hit a follow shot, and the partisan Wyoming Indian crowd roared to life.
Just as the Chiefs looked on the verge of taking over the game, the Bulldogs went back to Savage. He hit a spinning, step-through, fade way move as Howell and Williamson blanketed him and somehow found nothing but net in a dazzling display of low-post prowess.
Hultgren hit a follow shot, and the Bulldogs held to a tenuous six-point advantage.
Howell hit two straight in the low block to close the game to 54-50, but Savage came back for the Bulldogs with two more baskets.
Clifford and Williamson hit short shots, but each time Lovell went to Savage, and the four-point advantage held through much of the final minutes of play.
The Chiefs closed to a single basket twice in the final three minutes, with Howell hitting a follow shot that closed the game to 58-56, and Spoonhunter dazzled the crowd with an acrobatic, twisting drive with 1:05 left in the game that closed the game to 63-61.
Savage scored three points in the final minute, and a last-second layup by Clark narrowly beat the buzzer for the 68-61 final score.
Wyoming Indian hosts Riverside on Friday, then travels to Greybull on Saturday in non-conference action.
WYOMING INDIAN 16 15 10 20 -- 61
LOVELL 15 12 21 20 - 68
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