Buffalo might be the defending titlist in the Wyoming State High School Class 3A Boys Championships, but that doesn't mean the Bison are necessarily the favorites to repeat.
"This is the most balanced [state] tournament I've ever seen," Buffalo coach Paul Prosinski said. "It's really going to come down to whichever team is playing the best this weekend is going to win it."
And while the Bison might not be the odds-on favorite, they are definitely on the short list.
Buffalo (18-6 overall) captured the East Regional last weekend and enters on a seven-game winning streak. Prior to that, however, the Bison had dropped three of five.
"We made some lineup changes early in the year before we got comfortable," Prosinski said. "But I think we've developed some team chemistry since then and our young kids have really stepped up."
The youngsters have helped, but it's returning junior starters Kasey Esponda and Aaron Tyser and senior Ryan Graham who have done most of the heavy lifting for the Bison.
The 6-foot-2 Esponda leads the team in scoring (16.5 points per game) and steals (2.7 spg), while the 6-4 Tyser leads in rebounding (7.3 rpg) and is second in scoring (14.3 ppg).
"Obviously having players with experience of what it takes to win [at state] helps," Prosinski said. "But we really came together as a team when Aaron dislocated his shoulder against Douglas.
"We had to play two games without him and our young guys rose up and helped us win both of 'em."
Playing without Tyser the Bison still managed to beat Worland and Wheatland -- two state tournament teams -- as Esponda scored 48 points and junior Cameron Ostrom led the team in rebounding both games.
Now, with Tyser back to full strength, Buffalo is ready to defend its title. Prosinski knows it won't be easy, however.
"At state, it always comes down to how well a team shoots," he said. "That's true for every team, but especially for us. And we're not the biggest team, but we've got some athletic kids that are going to have to rebound."
They'll get their first test today against Cody, the No. 4 team out of the West. It will be a rematch of a game on Dec. 5 when the Broncs beat the Bison 42-37.
"Whichever team wins [state] is going to need some luck," Prosinski said. "There aren't going to be any upsets because anybody can win this."
First, though, that team will have to take it away from Buffalo.
Contact sports reporter Jack Nowlin at (307) 266-0528 or email@example.com.