WHEATLAND – The Wheatland High School Bulldogs have played Cheyenne South twice in one week. Once in an away game two weeks ago and then last Saturday at home.
In Cheyenne, the Bulldogs lost the game by 10 and Cheyenne South, coming in with thoughts of just an easy game, were in for a rude awakening.
The Bulldogs came out with intentional, disciplined passing that caused South to begin to overplay into the passing lanes as they grew tired of being on the wrong side of the slow tempo. As they committed to looking for steals and overplaying, the Bulldogs capitalized and found the weakside seams and pounded the ball inside with sophomore center, Jacob Hyche.
More often than not, the Bison were scrambling to get back, jumped on everything the Bulldogs tried to put up and ended up sending the Bulldogs to the free throw line 32 times for the game.
With a very regimented offense and controlling the tempo, the Bulldogs also added a tenacious defense in the front court, and South could not hit a shot as they tried to rush to get back into the game. Wheatland ran up a 12-0 lead and didn’t allow a point into the books from the Cheyenne side until 27 seconds left in the first quarter when they finally hit two free throws. The quarter score was 14-2 and they had the Bisons on the ropes, but they were down and not out.
Although the Bulldogs still had a commanding 30-13 at the end of the second quarter, the third quarter would spell disaster for the Bulldogs.
The second half saw the Bison recover in a desperation to close the gap and then took their first lead of the game early in the fourth quarter. Although Wheatland made it a dog fight all the way to the wire, they walked away losing a one-possession game, 48-45.
The Bulldogs only turned the ball over seven times to the bigger 4A school but could not convert badly needed free throws. The leading scorer for the Bulldogs was JP Anderson with 17, followed by eight for Hyche, who scored those all in the first quarter before succumbing to foul trouble and eventually fouling out early in the game. Bryce Stenson had eight points, Lee Raser and Aric Suko each had four points and Colton Halverson and Nolan Hofrock each had two points apiece.
The Dogs shot 41% from the field but missed 16 free throws.
Earlier in the week, the Gering Bulldogs came to town and prevailed by a score of 51-39. In that game, Anderson was leading scorer with nine points, all which were gathered at the free-throw line. Suko also had nine points, Hyche had eight points, Hofrock and Stenson each had six points, Raser had two and Halverson had one. In this game, the Bulldogs missed 17 free throws.
The Bulldogs will play their first conference game Friday night when Torrington comes to town for a 7 p.m. game.