The hands in his face didn’t bother Graedyn Buell. He pulled up anyway. Just a freshman playing in his second varsity game, Buell and his Rock Springs teammates nearly shot the lights out of the infant Natrona County gym.
Laramie’s furious second half brought the Plainsmen to within three points in the fourth quarter but Rock Springs pulled away to seal a 89-79 victory on Friday afternoon.
Buell and the Tigers took an immediate 34-14 lead over Laramie to end the first quarter and extended the lead to as much as 29 points in the second quarter.
“Passing the ball, moving the ball, everyone trusting each other, knock down shots,” Buell said of the hot start. “When we knock down shots we’re hard to guard. Move the ball, make the extra pass and make us hard to guard.”
Laramie closed the gap by finishing the first half strong. The Plainsmen ended the second quarter on a 8-0 run to trim the lead to 18.
Asa Williams scored 18 and Nathan Burman had 16 to lead Laramie back in the second half. A relentless full-court press forced Rock Springs into mistakes that the Plainsmen capitalized on.
But when Rock Springs needed something to cool the growing momentum, Buell pulled up from four feet behind the arc and drained shots. He finished with a game-high 32, 15 of which came in the first quarter.
“It feels like you’re just shooting at the ocean,” Buell said. “It’s amazing. But I couldn’t do it without my teammates. Jesus (Beltran) gets me open shots, Brady (Arnoldi) gets me open shots, they all get me open shots and without them I wouldn’t be able to make those shots.”
Derek Lionberger added 17 while Noah Spence scored 14 for the Tigers.
Riverton, a day off a sluggish outing against Kelly Walsh, ran past Jackson with a convincing 69-40 win at Kelly Walsh High School Friday morning.
With a new lineup, the Wolverines were able to put it all together and rout the same Broncs that had just defeated Kelly Walsh with a late buzzer beater the night before.
Friday night’s late games were not completed by press deadlines. For more information on Star Valley vs. Kelly Walsh, Sheridan vs. Evanston or Laramie vs. Natrona County, check Trib.com or see Sunday’s Star-Tribune.
Thursday’s late games involved that dramatic victory for Jackson over Kelly Walsh. Matt Ellingson led the Broncs with 21 points and a late 3 with 4 seconds remaining lifted the streaky team to a 63-62 win.
Laramie also scored its first win of the season with a late victory over Evanston on Thursday. The Plainsmen were able to overcome Evanston’s defensive pressure and come away with a 62-54 victory.
Natrona County won its first game in its brand new gym with a convincing 74-49 stomp of Star Valley.
It started out tight as the Braves outrebounded the Mustangs in the opening quarter to only find themselves down by three. Natrona County, however, only built on that lead by creating turnovers and converting on open jumpers.