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

By Alex Kuhn
Sports Editor 

Warriors fall to No. 2 Bison 54-42

 

February 16, 2018

DAILY NEWS/ Alex Kuhn

Warrior Jadon Swalstad looks for an open teammate during Worland's 54-42 loss Thursday night at Worland High School.

Warriors fall to No. 2 Bison 54-42

By ALEX KUHN

Sports Editor

WORLAND - Thursday night ended in a loss for the Worland Warriors basketball team, falling to No. 2 Buffalo 54-42 at Worland High School. The loss may look like just another loss but considering the last time these two teams met when it was a 31-point victory for the Bison on Jan. 26, Worland has shown things are looking up

With a new starting lineup, the Warriors played one of the better games of the season against the Bison, one of 3A's heavy state title favorites. Worland forced Buffalo to pull back their chaos-causing press and play a slower tempo than they normally like.

"I'm happy with the way kids played, we're putting together 32 minutes, finally, and I think they're peaking at the right time. We did a good job of making them pull their press off in the first half, by scoring on them, we didn't do that in our first meeting against them. They went in a 1-2-2 half-court press, and we weren't ready for that, I should have used a timeout sooner. We weren't moving the ball fast enough, we were holding on to the ball and that was a lot of our turnovers," said WHS boys basketball coach Aaron Abel.

The third quarter for Worland caused the most damage to their chances of winning Thursday night. The Bison's half-court defensive trap prevented them from getting into a rhythm offensively. The Warriors did not have their first basket of the second half until Luke Mortimer knocked down a 3-pointer with 1:02 remaining in the third.

Still, Worland kept working as they started the fourth quarter with a 47-28 deficit. The Warriors were able to trim the lead but could not quite punch through before time expired.

The Warriors top scorers on the night were senior Jadon Swalstad with 14 points and junior Andrew Edholm with eight.

The keys to taking down Buffalo for Worland were taking care of the ball and keeping Buffalo off the offensive glass. They were able to attain one goal holding the Bison to six offensive rebounds but the other slipped away from them.

"We had to take care of two things if we were going to pull out the win, we had to take care of the ball, our goal was fewer than 15 turnovers, and we had to rebound the ball, and set the goal at fewer than eight offensive rebounds given up. All week long in practice we took care of the ball and cleaned up the defensive glass. We said if it was our half-court defense that loses us this game that was going to be on me not on the players.

"We did half of that really well, we only gave up six offensive rebounds and really battled under the rim. A lot of guys were great under there, Luke Mortimer was physical beyond his age down there and that was fun to see. The turnovers came in a couple of flurries, one in the first and the other in second half. That's why we were on the losing end tonight [Thursday]. Our goal was 15 but we had 24 turnovers," said Abel.

Part of Thursday night's improved play was, sacrifice. Players like Swalstad and fellow senior McCoy Molzahn, accepting reduced roles to allow for the team to have a better shot at winning. Swalstad started the game on the bench while sophomore guard Wyatt Wyman got his first start.

"Guys tonight [Thursday] decided that they were going to make sacrifices for the good of the squad. We moved Jadon, a senior and who started for us all last season, to the bench just because we wanted to take a look at a different lineup against a high-pressure team. We wanted to have another ball handler in there and started Wyatt, a sophomore, over Jadon," said Abel. "I'm proud of the way Jadon handled himself and when he got his opportunity he made the most of it. He was a huge boost for us off the bench with his defense and hitting some key 3-pointers. I'm really proud of Jadon for the way he handled his role for this game."

Added Abel, "Then McCoy, same thing, he started but his shot wasn't falling and Jadon was playing well, so we went with the guy that was playing well. And McCoy, in turn, handled himself very well, the sacrifices the guys are starting to make is making a huge difference for us."

The Warriors also continued their aggressive offensive play, making 18 trips to the free-throw line. It's an encouraging sign for the team as the postseason quickly approaches.

"Buffalo is a zone team and we put in a few zone sets for them but we didn't run them that often. In the first half, we just made sure we had a triangle versus their press and that's what we liked about the first half. In the second we ran a four out and one in and wanted cutters to move.

"Offensively, it was really about us moving the ball with a pass. We mentioned the ball has to have some energy to it and every time we dribble it we're taking energy out. When we let the ball move on a string and dribbled with a purpose, I thought our guys were really good tonight," said Abel.

DOUGLAS TODAY

The Warriors hit the road today to match up with the Douglas Bearcats at 7 p.m.

The Bearcats have been gaining steam over the last few weeks but the greater challenge for the Warriors will be consistency in the second leg of back-to-backs.

"The key thing is can we sustain in a back-to-back situation? We haven't always played well on the second leg of a back-to-back, Wheatland comes to mind. Can our guys play with that kind of energy and intensity on the second night? That's what wins teams tournaments and gets teams to Casper. We're playing a team that we'll probably have to beat if we want to go to Casper, can the kids respond after they played well but couldn't quite pull it out, and bounce back and go on a long three-and-a-half hour bus ride and do it over again," said Abel.

 
 

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