After taking care of Rawlins Saturday night 58-49, the Buffalo High School Bison basketball team (3-0, 15-2) remains undefeated against every 3A team in the the district and the region.
While that scenario sounds like a dream, there is still plenty of work to do to lock up a No. 1 seed at regionals.
A road win against the Outlaws was a step in the right direction.
The Bison looked strong from the outset as they poured it on the Outlaws early, but an 11-4 lead at the end of first could have been a lot bigger with just a couple of more breaks.
“We came out ready to go and attacked them and got the score to 11-2 with a couple of minutes left in the first quarter,” coach John Hepp said. “But we missed some shots and backed off a little. It seems like we got up by 10 and then kind of laid back.”
Two early fouls on Tyce Dahlberg and an injury that sidelined Aaron Thiele in the first frame didn’t help any. Both players would return and post solid games, but their absences helped the Outlaws stay closer than the Bison would have liked.
Thiele was back in the second quarter, and after Nate Swanston came off the bench and nailed a 3, Thiele followed with a deep shot of his own to put the Bison up 19-11.
Swanston and Dahlberg finished the second quarter with two more from distance, but the Bison led just 27-18 at the half and neither team seemed able to put together a significant run.
A half-court shot by Rawlins to end the second quarter helped keep the Outlaws in the game.
“They tried to press us a little and it was effective because we weren’t being as aggressive as we usually are,” Hepp said. “But we didn’t end up pressing as heavy and just kind of stayed under control and got the win.”
When the Bison did press, it was effective. The Outlaws were called for a 10 second violation early in the third quarter with Buffalo up 11. From there it was Hunter Peterson answering a Rawlins 3 and a steal and bucket by Luke Glassock to keep the Outlaws down by nine heading into the fourth.
With the Bison up six with five minutes to go, Thiele and Dahlberg sparked a 9-2 run as the time ticked down.
A drive and finish for a three-point play by Glassock put the Bison up 54-40 and sealed the win.
Glassock led the way for Buffalo with 15 points and five assists. Thiele and Dahlberg finished with 12 points each. Hunter Peterson added seven.
“We were mixing a lot of kids in there,” Hepp said. “Hunter Stone came in as a sophomore and finished up the game and gave us some good minutes. We’ve got a different kid stepping up every week which is nice.”
The more minutes the underclassmen can get the better as tournament time is just around the corner. This weekend will be big for the Bison. Buffalo needs a win against either Douglas on Friday or Newcastle on Saturday to more or less lock up a No. 1 seed at regionals, barring a big upset by Thermopolis next week at BHS.
Both the Bearcats and Dogies are playing some of their best basketball of the season.
“We’ve got some kids that are going to have to step up who are having to learn without getting the minutes on the second team they have gotten in the past,” Hepp said. “This is just what we have to do right now, but so far we are doing pretty well.”