Buffs held down in losses to Burlington, Wind River

By: 
Nathan Oster

The Greybull Buffs were unable to get on track in their first two games of the new year, as they continued to be plagued by a sputtering offense in a 65-43 loss in Burlington Thursday night and a 68-44 setback in their home opener against Wind River Saturday afternoon.

Greybull took a 1-5 record into its game Tuesday night in Thermopolis, and with the start of Class 2A Northwest Conference play on the horizon, time is starting to run out in the search for answers to what ails the Buffs.

In both games last week, the Buffs played inspired ball early despite the absence of one of their top scorers and rebounders in Jesus Hernandez, who was out sick. Irving Castro, another regular, played in Burlington but missed the Wind River game.

The Buffs were within two at the first-quarter break in Burlington and trailed just 32-26 at the half before the Huskies asserted themselves in the second half en route to the 22-point win. And the Wind River game followed a similar script. After one, Greybull led 13-8.  But it was all Wind River after that, as the Cougars outscored the Buffs 21-4 in the second quarter, 22-15 in the third and 17-13 in the fourth.

Coach Logan Burningham wasn’t in the mood for making excuses on Monday. Even without Hernandez and Castro on the floor, “We had everything we needed” to win the games, he said, pointing to stretches where his team played good ball.

In Burlington, the Buffs hit a rough pate late in the second quarter and it extended into the third, resulting in a 10-point swing. “We faced some adversity and seemed to shut down,” he said. “We can’t do that.  Basketball is a game of runs and we have to recognize that there are times our opponent is going to go on a six- or eight-point run — and that we can go on a six- or eight-point run of our own. We can’t drop our heads.”

With the offense sputtering, Burningham tried to light a fire under his team over the holiday break, encouraging them to play a more up-tempo style and switching to more of a man-to-man defensive approach.  While it showed some promise, turnovers were an issue — the Buffs committed 26 against Burlington, 37 against Wind River.

Burningham said that’ll be an emphasis in practice this week, along with more shooting drills.  The Buffs struggled in both games, shooting 31 percent from the field against Burlington and 32 percent against Wind River. A big part of the offense last year, the 3-ball has deserted them thus far; Greybull was 3-of-14 from deep against Burlington, just 1-of-18 from long-range against Wind River.

“We can’t seem to hit a 3 to save our lives,” he said.

Gaven McColloch led the Buffs in scoring both games, pumping in 16 against Burlington and 11 against Wind River.  He was one of the week’s standouts, according to Burningham, crediting him for his willingness to work on his game and do what is asked of him. 

Senior Noah Zeller “gave us some good minutes, too,” he said.  “I like how hard he plays, how he rebounds, and his defense is really good. We know he can continue to develop and be a player who can really help us.”

And freshman Carlos Rodriguez provided a lift off the bench, with the coach saluting his “activeness on the offensive and defensive ends of the floor.  Carlos has a lot of upside.”

Burningham acknowledges that the 1-5 record “looks bad right now,” but said, “We still feel like we have a lot of potential, if we can get everything worked out.  I believe we will.”

The Buffs played in Thermopolis Tuesday and are scheduled to host Lovell on Saturday at Buff Gym. The varsity game starts at 3 p.m.  Conference play begins the following week, with a game against Riverside.

Burningham believes if McColloch continues his strong play, seniors Isaac Thueson and Hernandez “hit their stride” and the other players continue to step up, the Buffs can and will be a factor down the stretch. Along the way, he’ll continue to tweak the lineup, looking for combinations that work.

 

Burlington    15 17 14 19 — 65

Greybull       13 13   7 10 — 43

GREYBULL — Gaven McColloch 6-18 2-3 16, Brandt Miller 1-3 0-0 2, Isaac Thueson 4-12 1-2 9, Noah Zeller 1-5 1-2 3, Camryn Chapman 2-5 0-2 4, Irving Castro 1-1 1-2 3, Cale Wright 0-0 2-4 2, Aiden Reece 0-1 0-0 0, Carlos Rodriguez 1-5, 2-3 4, Avery Swiftney 0-2 0-0 0.  Totals 16-51 9-18 43.

3-POINT GOALS — McColloch 2, Chapman.  REBOUNDS — Greybull 46 (McColloch 10).  STEALS — Greybull 8 (McColloch, Zeller 2).  ASSISTS — Greybull 9 (McColloch, Chapman 3).  TURNOVERS — 26.

 

Wind River   8 21 22 17 — 68

Greybull       13 4 15 13 — 45

GREYBULL — McColloch 5-7, 1-3 11, Miller 1-6 1-2 3, Thueson 5-15 0-3 10, Zeller 0-2 8-12 8, Coby Henderson 0-2 0-0 0, Chapman 3-7 1-2 7, Wright 1-4 0-0 3, Reece 0-1 0-0 0, Rodriguez 0-5 1-2 1, Beto Diaz-Rios 1-1 0-0 2.  Totals 16-50 12-24 45.

3-POINT GOALS — Wright.  REBOUNDS — Greybull 38 (Thueson 7).  STEALS — Greybull 10 (McColloch 4).  ASSISTS — Greybull 11 (McColloch 6).  TURNOVERS — Greybull 37.