(Pavillion, WY) – It was a game of huge momentum swings between Wyoming Indian and Wind River at Pavillion Saturday afternoon. The Cougars opened with a run and closed with one, coming from behind in the final period after a 14-0 Chiefs surge in the third period.
Wind River took the contest 73-63 to hand Wyoming Indian their first loss in Class 2-A Southwest conference play. The Chiefs are now 3-1 in league play with a sweep of St. Stephen’s and a win over Big Piney.
Wind River is 4-0 after beating Big Piney twice in just three days, and taking St. Stephen’s and Wyoming Indian at home.
The Cougars have the inside track, but the conference remains a two-team race. On Tuesday the two teams square off again, this time at Ethete. Wyoming Indian still has a game against Big Piney and the Cougars have to travel to St. Stephen’s for their final conference game next weekend.
The game opened with Wind River taking a 20-10, but Wyoming Indian’s Allen Redman hit a towering 35 foot shoot to the end the first period with the Chiefs down just seven points.
The Cougars relied on the play of a pair of guards in senior Chaumbrey Romero and junior Jaycee Herbert.
Romero hit a pair of 3-pointers on the night, and one in the opening period. His biggest weapon was the step through off a speed dribble. He hit four layups on this move, and was fouled six more times on the same big step motion to the basket, hitting 10 of 13 free throws.
Herbert at just 5-8, did his work inside against the much taller Chiefs. Blessed with a tremendous vertical leap, Herbert played much taller than his height might indicate.
A signature play came late in the game with just 2:35 left to play when the Chiefs defense collapsed on Romero. Romero tossed a lob at rim level that Herbert caught at the apex of his leap before shooting a soft jumper off the glass.
Wyoming Indian was caught off guard early, but that doesn’t last with a Craig Ferris team.
The Chiefs trailed 38-31 at the half, but roared back to the lead on a 14-0 run fueled by a pair of 3-point shots from Hunter Lone Dog, and another by Brandon Coffee.
The momentum change wasn’t just offensive. Wyoming Indian forces six turnovers in seven Wind River possessions during the third period, including four in a row where the Cougars never took a shot.
A coast to coast drive by Tuff C’Bearing knotted the game at 45, but the Chiefs continued to roll with Coffee’s second trey, and a steal and driving layup by Terrell Tillman.
A wild exchange, resembling lunchtime pickup basketball had Tillman hitting another layup, and Lone Dog connecting on a buzzer beating jumper for a 54-47 Wyoming Indian lead entering the final period.
As they say, fate is a fickle fellow, and momentum gradually slid to the home standing Cougars.
Jaden Miller hit a 3-point shot, and Trey Mulholland scored on a left-handed baby hook, followed by a free throw to tie the game at 59.
A technical foul on JayQuin Jones had the Cougars convert three of four free throws on the ensuing charity shots. Wind River rolled on a 12-0 run after the tie at 59.
Wylie Shearer hit a trey, Herbert scored four more shots from close range as Wind River stretched the lead to 69-63.
Wind River scored the final four points of the game for the 10-point win.
Romero paced the Cougars with 24 and Herbert tallied 23.
Wyoming Indian was more balanced with Tillman scoring a dozen, C’Bearing 15, and Lone Dog 14.
Officials tried to take control early in the contest calling 18 fouls in the first five minutes, but these two fast paced teams like to get after each other.
Wind River finished 17 of 25 from the free throw line, and the Chiefs were 12 of 22.
Wind River 20 18 9 26 – 73
Wyoming Indian 13 18 23 9 – 63
Wind River – Brayden Leonhardt 2-2 2, Hunter Walker 1 0-0 2, Chaumbrey Romero 4 (2) 10-13 24, Jaycee Herbert 9 (1) 2-6 23, Trey Mulholland 2 1-2 5, Jaden Miller 1 (1) 2-2 7, Wylie Shearer 1 (2) 0-0 8. Totals 18 (6) 17-25 73
Wyoming Indian – Terrell Tillman 4 (1) 1-2 12, Isaiah Burnett 4-4 4, Vidale C’Bearing 6 3-6 15, Brandon Coffee (2) 2-3 6, Hunter Lone Dog 3 (2) 0-2 14, JayQuin Jones 1-2 1, Tyson Sounding Sides (1) 2-2 5, Tyson Sounding Sides (1) 2-2 5, Allen Redman 2 0-0 4. Totals 15 (7) 12-22 63
Wyoming Indian’s 2nd ranked Lady Chiefs knocked off Wind River 62-30 prior to this contest.