After crushing Lovell 68-23 Friday, the Buffalo High School Bison basketball team ran into their first road block in a long time on Saturday, as Lander took down the Bison 65-61 at the East/West Classic at BHS.
Buffalo would regroup, however, and take down Powell 63-53 to finish the Classic 2-1.
“We’re still trying to figure out our rotation and lineups,” coach John Hepp said. “We still have a lot of things we need to work on.”
Lovell hung with the Bison early in the first quarter, but an Aaron Thiele 3-pointer put Buffalo ahead 15-8 and they built on the lead from there.
Luke Glassock found room down the lane for a drive and finish to put the Bison up seven, then a quick layup, steal and 3-pointer from Thiele forced a Bulldogs timeout as Buffalo built a 28-13 lead over a team that just made the transition from 2A to 3A this year.
“Lovell is probably going to struggle a little bit early as they learn to adjust to the speed and size of some of the 3A schools,” Hepp said. “But they have some nice players and play hard.”
A steal and lay in by Joe Musselman ended a big Bison run heading into the break with Buffalo up 44-19 and in control.
Glassock led the way for Buffalo with 21 points. Thiele added 15 and Rowen Ruby 10 in the win.
Ruby and Tyce Dahlberg led Buffalo in a big third quarter as the Bison defense held the Bulldogs to two points. Buffalo would go on another 12-2 run in the fourth.
Dahlberg and Dawson Hatch finished with seven points apiece. Mason Moon chipped in four points; Musselman, two; Hyrum Hatch, one and Nathan Swanston, one.
Allesandro Sottini finished with five rebounds in limited time with an ankle injury. Jacob Corden added a rebound as well.
On Saturday against Lander, Dahlberg drove baseline and converted on a 3-point play to start things out, and it looked like the Bison were going to take control early against the Tigers. But some sloppy play combined with a few questionable calls by the refs saw the visitors take control and go up 12-8 in the first. The Tigers also got hot from the floor while everything that usually drops in for the Bison seemed to rim out.
“Going full speed to the basket, you just can’t simulate that in practice,” Hepp said. “We missed some easy shots right at the rim which we usually just don’t do.”
The Tigers hit three straight from deep to end the first half and take a 10-point lead into the break.
In the third the lid remained on for the Bison while the Tigers continued to drain shots from deep. Dawson Hatch knocked down a couple of 3-pointers to try and keep pace with Lander, but the Tigers kept rolling.
Some odd calls and fouls for both teams slowed the momentum for the Bison every time it looked like they might make a run. The pace certainly didn’t seem to the Bison’s advantage.
“Lander was just on fire from three. They didn’t miss,” Hepp said. “When they were open they hit them. Most didn’t even touch the rim.”
Thiele turned it on late in the fourth. The versatile senior hit a 3 to get the Bison within single digits. Ruby added a drive and finish and found Thiele for a layup to make it 60-55 Lander with 1:27 remaining.
The Tigers would hold onto the lead, however, and hand the Bison their first loss of the season.
“Lander is a team that is going to be around at the end of the season,” Hepp said. “They are a good team, have length and good shooters. They are going to be tough to beat.”
The Bison defense was back to form against Powell Saturday night. A Thiele 3-pointer and a Dahlberg block set the tone early. After a Hatch 3 and Moon layup, however, the Bison and the Panthers were tied at 11 at the end of the first. Buffalo was still on the bad end of a few calls as they were tagged with six fouls in the first six minutes.
Ruby would go down hard before halftime as well and leave the game with an injured ankle. He is expected to recover and will return as soon as possible.
Both teams posted solid third quarters. But with the Bison up by five in the fourth, the Panthers fell apart as Thiele and Glassock took over offensively.
Buffalo eventually emerged with the 10-point win over the visitors.
Thiele finished with 20 points and eight rebounds. Glassock added 20 and seven boards. Dahlberg finished with 10; Hatch, six; Hunter Peterson, three; Moon, two and Ruby was 2 for 2 at the line.
“That was one thing this weekend: We missed a lot of free throws. We never miss that many free throws,” Hepp said. “We missed 11 free throws against Lander and lost by four.”
Hyrum Hatch was one of many on the second unit who had a good weekend. He added a rebound, assist and steal in the win.
The Bison will host Worland this weekend at BHS. Tip off is scheduled for 4:30 p.m.