East struggles from outside, falls to Star Valley in quarterfinals

Robert Munoz, Wyoming Tribune-Eagle, Cheyenne
·4 min read

Mar. 13—CASPER — Cheyenne East struggled to find the bottom of the net Friday afternoon.

The fourth-seeded Thunderbirds shot 1-of-26 from behind the 3-point line during the opening round of the Wyoming Class 4A boys state tournament in a 66-45 loss to top-seeded Star Valley.

"You got to hand it to Star Valley, they outplayed us in every phase of the game," East coach Rusty Horsley said. "They shot it well, and we didn't, and basketball's that type of game."

East (16-5) averages 67.2 points per game, and Star Valley's top-ranked scoring defense holds teams to 45 points per outing. The Braves' defense did what it usually does.

Despite the poor shooting, East hung around with the Braves for a majority of the contest.

Graedyn Buell gave the T-Birds an early 6-3 advantage with a pull-up jumper midway through the opening frame. The Braves responded and closed out the quarter on a 11-2 run, and Brant Nelson got a shot to fall at the buzzer to give Star Valley the 14-8 advantage following the first period.

"We had some good looks early, and we missed," Horsley said. "We had some good looks from 3, especially, and if we're making them, we're in good shape."

After an early bucket in the second quarter from Star Valley, East answered with an eight-point run. Six of those points came from Buell, who scored 15 in the second quarter. The senior tied it 16-16 with 2 minutes, 16 seconds left in the half. East eventually held a 23-19 advantage before the Braves closed the gap and tied the game 25-25 going into the break.

Star Valley (16-6) opened the second half with two consecutive steals and had some momentum. Buell managed to stop a six-point run from the Braves with 5:38 to play in the quarter.

"They just hustled around and out-toughed us," East sophomore Garet Schlabs said. "They were getting on the floor, diving for loose balls, and that was a big difference in the game."

After trailing 40-29, Schlabs got an offensive rebound and put it back up for the score. The basket started a six-point run for the T-Birds as they closed out the third frame by scoring six points in less than 20 seconds to put themselves behind 40-35 and give themselves some momentum going into the fourth period.

The Braves took control early in the final frame, jumping out to a quick 48-36 lead. East was never able to recover, as the drought from the 3-point line continued to hinder them.

Buell finished with a game-high 25 points and pulled down 10 rebounds. He was the only player for East to score in double-figures. Tristen Kleeman finished with 20 points for the Braves.

"We've struggled shooting all year, but we've been able to pull some things off," Horsley said. "But when you shoot it that bad, it's hard to overcome. I was proud of the kids though. They never quit."

STAR VALLEY 66, EAST 45

Cheyenne East............................ 8 17 10 10 — 45

Star Valley.................................. 14 11 15 26 — 66

Cheyenne East: Bohlmann 0-3 0-0 0, G. Schlabs 1-3 0-1 2, Rayl 1-9 0-0 2, Bush 1-5 0-0 3, G. Buell 10-24 5-8 25, Goff 0-1 0-0 0, McAnelly 1-3 1-4 3, Jackson 2-7 2-2 6, Codner 1-5 0-0 2, Bishop 0-1 0-0 0, Jolley 1-1 0-0 2, Heckman 0-2 0-0 0. Totals: 18-64 8-15 45.

Star Valley: Hodges 0-0 0-0 0, Merritt 3-3 3-5 10, Hilton 2-4 0-0 4, Bagley 1-2 2-4 4, Nelson 3-11 5-10 11, Frome 0-0 0-0 0, Kleeman 7-13 3-5 20, Z. Johnson 4-10 3-3 13, D. Johnson 0-0 0-0 0, Jenkins 0-0 0-0 0, Nield 0-0 2-2 2, McClure 0-0 2-2 2. Totals: 20-43 20-31 66.

3-pointers: CE 1-26 (Bohlmann 0-1, Rayl 0-6, Bush 1-5, G. Buell 0-8, Goff 0-1, Jackson 0-2, Codner 0-2, Heckman 0-1); SV 6-17 (Merritt 1-1, Bagley 0-1, Nelson 0-3, Kleeman 3-7, Z. Johnson 2-5). Rebounds: CE 38 (G. Buell 10); SV 40 (Belson 10). Assists: CE 4 (Rayl 2); SV 9 (Merritt 3, Nelson 3). Turnovers: CE 16 (G. Buell 5); SV 21 (Merritt 7). Steals: CE 11 (G. Buell 4); SV 10 (Nelson 4). Blocked shots: CE 1 (Bush); SV 4 (Four with 1). Team fouls: CE 28, SV 17. Fouled out: CE 2 (G. Buell, Jackson); SV 1 (Hilton).

Robert Munoz is a writer for

WyoSports. He can be reached at rmunoz@wyosports.net. Follow him on Twitter @rmunoz307.