After a near upset by Wheatland Friday night at Buffalo High School, the No. 1 ranked Bison basketball team turned around and crushed Burns Saturday afternoon at home to up their record to 7-2 overall as they head into a pair of tough matchups this weekend and begin conference play.
Buffalo edged Wheatland 48-46 Friday before taking down Burns 71-39.
After the Bison took a 30-25 lead into halftime Friday night, the Bulldogs rode their hot shooting from the outside to take a 36-34 lead near the end of the third. If not for a last-second make from just inside the half-court line from junior Joe Musselman, Buffalo would have found itself trailing heading into the final frame.
That bucket put the Bison up 39-37, but Wheatland took advantage of some cold outside shooting from Buffalo in the fourth to take a slim lead with time running out.
Bison guard Luke Glassock found himself on the wrong end of foul calls early, and forced the home team to rely on the bench for much of the first half and most of the second half in his absence.
“Losing Luke for so much of the game with fouls really hurt,” coach John Hepp said. “Wheatland packed in the paint on defense and made us shoot from the outside, and we’re not shooting well this year.”
With just under three minutes remaining, however, the Bison managed to get into the lane and finish just enough shots to regain the lead and hold off the Bulldogs in a nail biter.
Dawson Hatch took up as much slack as he could with the absence of Glassock. Hatch finished with 12 points and six rebounds. Aaron Thiele came alive in the waning moments and figured out the Wheatland defense in the nick of time. Thiele finished with 11 points and four steals.
With the Bison struggling, the Bulldogs took full advantage. Wheatland forced Buffalo into 17 turnovers and just 2 of 15 from beyond the arc, plus made big buckets when they needed them.
“Wheatland has the capability to play well,” Hepp said. “Our region is going to be really tough to get out of this year.”
Tyce Dahlberg managed to find some room around the rim for the Bison. The senior finished with nine points and seven boards. Hunter Peterson protected the ball well at guard and shot well at the line. Peterson finished with eight points, three assists and two boards. The guard also finished with no turnovers on the night.
Musselman added two steals to go along his three points. Glassock finished with three points and Nathan Swanston, two.
The Bison had little trouble with Burns the following day. Buffalo went on an 18-2 run to start the festivities and went on to take a 41-14 lead into the break.
Thiele had 22 points and four assists. Glassock put up 18 points and five rebounds. Dawson Hatch finished with 14 points, five rebounds and four assists.
“That was a little better team ball,” Hepp said. “They tried to get up and run with us and that’s good.”
That team ball was emphasized in the fourth with a long alley-oop from Thiele to Dahlberg for a bucket to put the Bison up 66-35 and add to the rout.
Dahlberg added six points in the win. Mason Moon added five; Hyrum Hatch, two; Peterson, two and Swanston, two.
Musselman finished with a steal and a rebound. Rowan Ruby added a rebound.
While the easy win against Burns may have been nice, this weekend’s games could end up looking more like the Bulldogs game than the Burns game.
Douglas comes to town Friday night with a impressive resume. The Bearcats are 8-2 and are coming off a win against Torrington.
Saturday the Bison head to Newcastle where teams normally don’t find much rhythm if their shots aren’t falling.
“We’re not deep, but I see the younger kids getting better,” Hepp said. “We were lucky to get away with the win against Wheatland. We ended up playing about three minutes of basketball and that’s about what we needed at the end.”