BURNS - The Wheatland High School boys basketball team overcame some early deficits and battled through fatigue to pick up a pair of wins on their first weekend of competition.
The Bulldogs (2-1) started their run at the Burns Classic with a loss to defending 2A state champions Pine Bluffs High School, but bounced back the next day to score a come-from-behind win over Wyoming Indian High School 65-38 and outlasted Southeast High School 50-47.
Wheatland showed a lot of heart in its wins, coach Mick Cochran said, but there is some room for improvement early in the season.
“Our effort was really good,” he said. “We played hard all three games and I think we really got that maximum effort. There are some fundamental things we can get better at.”
In the Bulldogs’ first game against Pine Bluffs (4-0) on Friday, Cochran said his team had some difficulty finding a rhythm against a solid Hornets squad.
“They were pretty good,” he said. “It was their third game and our first, so we were a little out of sync. It took us awhile to get going.”
Wheatland found its stride on Saturday against Wyoming Indian (2-2). Wyoming Indian jumped out a slim lead early in the proceedings, but the Bulldogs rallied to overcome the deficit and came out on top.
“We jumped on the pretty early,” Cochran said. “We had some really good possessions on each side of the ball. They got ahead of us pretty quick, but I think we outscored them 33-7 after that.”
The closest game of the weekend was the win over Southeast. Cochran said his team was down a bench player and after already playing Wyoming Indian earlier that day, the Bulldogs had to dig deep to edge the Cyclones.
“We actually trailed quite a bit,” he said. “It was a tough day for our guys. We were only rotating six guys because the seventh guy was out at a funeral. Having played Wyoming Indian just four hours before that, we were up and down the floor quite a bit.
“We were a little tired. We kind of got off to a slow start, and we got down a little bit. We were ahead at halftime by a few points I think. We really struggled shooting the ball. We didn’t have any legs and we were just missing everything short.”
The Bulldogs will travel to Lander on Dec. 14-15 to take on Lander High School, Big Piney High School and Lovell School in their last games before the Christmas break. Before it takes the floor again, Cochran said, the team will be working on its free throw shooting to eliminate points left on the floor.
“We really have to work on our free throw shooting,” he said. “That is one of the areas that we will focus on. Fundamentally, we have to screen better and set our guys up from screens better.”