Mar 3, 2013 - By Randy Tucker, Sports WriterCASPERR00;-- It wasn't what the Wyoming Indian Chiefs wanted to see in Casper last weekend, but they did continue a tradition and bring home hardware from the state tournament.
The trophy didn't come from the title game this year, as Lusk upset the Chiefs 51-40 in opening round action. But Wyoming Indian came back to take a 59-48 win over Big Piney on Friday morning, then edged Burns Saturday at noon for the consolation trophy 48-44.
Saturday's game was played in the tight confines of Casper Kelly Walsh High School because Casper College won the Region IX junior college conference and hosted the conference tournament, preventing the use of Swede Erickson Gym for Saturday's final games.
The crowd was standing-room only, largely a partisan Wyoming Indian group.
The Chiefs blew out Burns a season ago behind 53 Bronc turnovers, but this year the Burns guards handled Wyoming Indian's pressure well, and the game came down to a battle in the paint between Broncs' senior Travis Romsa and Wyoming Indian senior Trevor Williamson.
Both players are physical presences in the low block at 6-5, and they battled throughout the game.
The Chiefs built a quick 10-2 lead 90 seconds into the game on 3-pointers from Joey Aragon and Alvin Spoonhunter and a pair of follow shots from Joseph Howell that prompted a quick Burns timeout.
The Broncs responded with a trey from Cole Bostron and free throws by Colby Ward and Cody Leader to close the gap to 10-9. A last-second shot by Taylor Kirkbride gave Burns a one-point lead after one.
A pair of ties and three lead changes highlighted the second period. The game was played at Wyoming Indian's pace, but Burns was able to stay in touch with good ball handling and open-court play by Kirkbride, Ward and Leader.
Chiefs led 25-24 at the break, regaining the lead on a Williamson follow shot with 19 seconds remaining in the half.
Two more ties and as many lead changes highlighted the third period. Tristan Gardner drained a 3-pointer and Aragon completed an entertaining inbounds play bouncing the ball off Bostron's back and snagging the rebound before twisting around to score over the stunned Bronc.
The final 3-pointer of Spoonhunter's high school career put the Chiefs ahead for good, but it was tense in the final minutes as Wyoming Indian uncharacteristically turned the ball over four times and missed a pair of free throws in the final two minutes of the game.
WIHS 59, Big Piney 48
It was one of those games common to the elimination round of tournament play. Wyoming Indian had blown out Big Piney twice during the regular season and the final meeting at noon in the consolation bracket of the state tournament wasn't what the Chiefs had looked for all season.
Big Piney had the motivation to play a close game or tally an upset with Wyoming Indian so the motivation was all in the Puncher's corner to open the game.
After a close first and second period the Chiefs managed to hold a 28-23 lead at the half in spite of playing less than the spirited style Wyoming Indian fans are accustomed to.
Big Piney put together a solid third period and led the Chiefs for the final three minutes of the quarter.
Big Piney's hope of an upset faded in the final minutes as the Chiefs came to life behind juniors Wilson and Clifford and Joseph Howell. Wyoming Indian's floor leader, Spoonhunter, was sidelined with foul trouble for most of the second half.
WYOMING INDIAN 15 13 9 22 - 59
BIG PINEY 12 11 15 10 - 48
Wyoming Indian - Tyler Penetac 2 1-1 5, Tristan Gardner 1 (1) 2-3 7, Joey Aragon 3 2-6 8, Wilson Clifford 4 (1) 4-6 15, Joseph Howell 4 3-6 11, Alvin Spoonhunter 2 0-0 4, Trevor Williamson 4 1-1 9. Totals 20 (2) 13-23 59
Big Piney - Michael Howard 2-2 2, J.D. Fear (1) 0-0 3, Jordan Sims 4 (1) 6-8 17, Jordan Banks 1 (1) 2-5 7, Alma Stoutenburg 4 0-2 8, Nolan Jones 3 5-5 11. Totals 12 (3) 15-22 48.
WYOMING INDIAN 10 15 14 9 - 48
BUIRNS 11 13 9 11 - 44
Wyoming Indian - Tristan Gardner (2) 0-0 6, Joey Aragon 1 (1) 2-4 7, Wilson Clifford 1 1-3 3, Joseph Howell 2 2-4 6, Alvin Spoonhunter (3) 0-0 9, Trevor Williamson 6 3-6 15. Totals 11 (6) 8-22 48.
Burns - Cody Leader 3 1-4 7, Colby Ward 2 (1) 3-8 10, Tyler Kirkbride 2 4-5 8, Mikky Heward 1-2 1, Austin Burket 1 0-0 2, Travis Romsa 4 5-8 13, Cole Bostron (1) 0-0 3. Totals 12 (2) 14-27 44.