Feb 24, 2013 - By Randy Tucker, Staff WriterThe story almost writes itself. In the continuing saga of one of Wyoming's greatest prep rivalries, the Lovell Bulldogs edged the Wyoming Indian Chiefs 56-50 Saturday night in Riverton for the Class 2-A West boys basketball title. The Chiefs survived a scare from Rocky Mountain in Friday's semifinals, edging the Grizzlies 69-66 in overtime.
Wyoming Indian advances to the state tournament with a Thursday game at Casper College against perennial state tournament opponent Lusk at 1:30 p.m. The Tigers were upset in the East regional by Moorcroft.
Saturday's matchup is a common one to Class 2-A fans of the western region. The Chiefs and Bulldogs have met more times in the championship than any other combination of schools in the region, and the games are usually are classic battles.
This year's version was exactly what the capacity crowd at Wolv-erine gym expected. The Bulldogs used their size and strength to take the ball inside, and the Chiefs used their team quickness and shooting ability to convert the game to a wide-open transition affair when they could.
Lovell took control of the game in the middle of the opening period, rolling on an 8-0 run to built a 12-3 lead. Tyler Penetac came off the bench and finally broke the drought at the free-throw line with 3:19 left in the period.
Joseph Howell hit a basket and followed with a high-low post move to Trevor Williamson, and the game closed to 14-8.
Williamson rolled his 6-5 frame out of the post with 18 seconds left in the first period and dropped in a 3-pointer from the top of the key that swirled around the rim, came to a halt, then fell through the net.
Alvin Spoonhunter tied the game for the first time at 14 on another trey to open the second period. The basket started a series of eight ties or lead changes that featured a 3-pointer from Wilson Clifford and a coast-to-coast drive by Shane Willow. The Chiefs built their largest lead of the game at 23-18 on a Spoonhunter layup with 3:51 remaining in the half.
Lovell is a talented, experienced team and rallied over the next three minutes on a 10-2 run of its own to take a 28-27 lead into the locker room. Dylan Hultgren hit a 3-pointer with 23 seconds remaining to regain the Bulldog lead.
An exciting third period featured eight ties or lead changes, but it was marred on an incident between Lovell's Kade Nichols and Wyoming Indian's Joey Aragon. As Aragon hounded Nichols the Lovell guard pushed him away with his off hand and Aragon was called for his fourth foul. Tempers flared, and Aragon was whistled for a technical foul and fouled out.
Nichols hit both free throws, and the Bulldogs executed to pick-and-roll plays from Austin Ellis to Cody Savage, leading to a 44-37 lead at the end of three.
Savage took control of the game in the final period, surprising the crowd with a 3-pointer but picking up most of his points as he had all game in the low block. He finished with 22 points to lead all scorers.
Wyoming Indian picked up the pace even more, but Lovell executed its ball control offense and hit only layups down the stretch. Clifford hit a final 3-pointer with 1:17 left to close the game to 56-50, but neither team scored from there.
WIHS 69, Rocky Mountain 66 (OT)
Friday night, the Chiefs relied on Williamson in the post as Rocky Mountain's defense strategy of limiting Wyoming Indian's perimeter shooting worked well.
Williamson finished the game with 24 points on 10 field goals, all taken from within three feet of basket. Many of Williamson's points came via offensive rebounding.
The Chiefs led for much of the game but couldn't shake the Grizzlies.
Bryce Ward hit four treys in the game, but none was bigger than the 23-footer he drained from the top of the key that glanced off the glass and tied the game with 2.9 seconds left in regulation.
The overtime featured team play against a single hot scorer. Ward scored all six of Rocky's overtime points on a 3-pointer and three of four shooting from the line.
Wyoming Indian used a balanced approach with Penetac, Wilson, Howell, Spoonhunter and Williamson all scoring in the final four minutes.
"It's good to win by 20 points, but games like this one are even better," Wyoming Indian head coach Craig Ferris said. "You learn about the heart of your kids."
WYOMING INDIAN 16 14 14 16 9 - 69
ROCKY MOUNTAIN 15 18 9 18 6 -- 66
Wyoming Indian - Shane Willow 1 (1) 0-0 5, Tyler Penetac 2 1-2 5, Wilson Clifford 3 1-5 7, Joseph Howell 3 7-15 13, Alvin Spoonhunter (3) 6-10 15, Trevor Williamson 10 4-5 24. Totals 19 (4) 19-37 69
Rocky Mountain -- Jewell 4 2-2 10, Wocicki 3 (1) 2-2 11, Despain 4 (1) 0-0 11, Kirby Winland 3 1-5 7, Simmons 1 12 3, Bryce Ward 4 (4) 4-6 24. Totals 19 (6) 10-17 66
WYOMING INDIAN 11 16 10 13 - 50
LOVELL 14 14 16 12 - 56
Wyoming Indian - Willow 1 0-0 2, Penetac 3-4 3, Aragon 2 0-0 4, Clifford 2 (2) 6-9 16, Howell 3 2-2 8, Spoonhunter 2 (1) 0-0 7, Williamson 3 (1) 1-2 10, Robert Aragon 0-2 0. Totals 13 (4) 12-19 50
Lovell - Chase Tippets, Brandon Wolvington 2-2 2, Dylan Hultgren 1 (1) 0-3 5, Kade Nichols 1 3-4 5, Austin Ellis 4 2-4 10, Ryan Clark 4 0-4 8, Cody Savage 8 (1) 3-4 22. Totals 20 (2) 10-21 56
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