Northern Wyoming Daily News - Serving the Big Horn Basin for over 100 years

By Alex Kuhn
Sports Editor 

No. 3 Warriors cap off undefeated conference record with 44-34 win over Buffalo


February 17, 2017


Warrior Clay Bullard dishes the ball out to the perimeter after attacking the interior of the Rawlins defense during a game vs. Rawlins on Feb. 10.

BUFFALO - Heading into Thursday night's game vs. Buffalo the Worland Warriors had already clinched the 3A East: West conference and a No. 1-seed at the 3A East regional tournament.

So a loss would not have mattered but for the Warriors it was an opportunity to win the conference in convincing fashion as well as log a third-straight season with an undefeated conference record.

Worland (13-5 overall, 6-0 3A East: West conference) took care of business, defeating Buffalo (10-8 overall, 3-3 3A East: West conference) 44-34 in a defensive scrappy victory.

"It was definitely a defensive grind (Thursday). (Buffalo) did a good job of packing in the paint and taking away Cody (Baumstarck). We had to get offense from other places with ball reversals to loosen up their defense," said WHS boys basketball coach Aaron Abel.

Much of the game was a tight contest as both teams were able to answer any run by the other. The Bison made it tough on Warrior big man Cody Baumstarck sending physical double teams his way all night long.

"When you play Buffalo you know you're going to play a physical game. It certain wasn't pretty but we were able to get the job done," said Abel. "They were (defensively) pinching Cody and daring our other players to shoot. They were committing two guys to taking away the paint and they did a very nice job. They had a very good defensive game plan and something we hadn't seen before. Any time you see something new it's always good challenge for you."

Heading into the fourth quarter the Warriors held a one-point lead in a game that felt like an intense tug-of-war. Any sized run in this tight of a game could seal the deal for either team. Fortunately for the Warriors senior Clay Bullard provided that run by scoring the quarter's first six points. From that point on the Warriors did not look back.

"He got a couple of deflections and run out that got him easy layups. He also had a nice back cut to the rim," said Abel of Bullard's play in the fourth.

Bullard led all scorers with 17 points.

What impressed Abel the most about his team's play was their commitment on the defensive end.

"We fought through and were able to get stops when we needed them. Our shot blocking on the interior was a big thing," said Abel. "We did a better job on their other scorers. Last time Luke Glassock came off the bench and scored 19. This time we limited all their other options outside of (Hayden) Peterson. Defensively, we're still right where we need to be and that was the best part about our win. We didn't let our frustrations on the offensive end affect us on defensive end. I was really proud of the kids for that."

Speaking about the achievement of going three straight seasons without a conference loss, coach Abel credited his seniors but also does not want this to be the season's defining moment.

"It has been a testament to the players. The last year three years, since they've come up with the quadrant system, we have gotten better and better as January and February have worn on. I'm pretty proud of them and they should be proud of their careers so far. At the same time we try not to look backwards on stuff too much until the end of the season. So we'll continue to push forward and continue to prepare for regionals," said Abel.

Today the Warriors take on the No. 2 Douglas Bearcats (13-3, 4-1 3A East: East conference) at 7 p.m.; Worland's last outing vs. Douglas was a 77-35 loss. For Abel and his team this is a game they have marked on their calendars since that Dec. 9 loss.

"It's been so long since we've played them. We're going to play them straight up and see how much we've improved. We have a defensive identity, we're in shape now and have roles that are well defined. None of that was the case for us in December," said Abel. "We have to take care of the ball better than we have been. (Thursday) we had some miscues and lots of turnovers so we need to fix that against Douglas."


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