Slow middle periods sink South in loss to Green River

Jan. 7—CHEYENNE — Despite a late rally attempt, Cheyenne South came up short in its Friday night match up against Green River.

The Bison played well in the opening and closing frames, but suffered scoring droughts and defensive lapses in the middle frames to fall 62-48.

"I'm happy, but we never like to lose," South coach Brodie Epler said. "The reality is that we are getting so much closer, and we have some pieces."

South played well in the first quarter on offense. Led by Amaya Smith and Bailey Williams, the Bison put up 13 points to keep pace with Green River.

Where the Bison ran into trouble in the opening frame was on the defensive end, particularly on the offensive glass. They gave up multiple second- and third-chance opportunities to Green River, and struggled with boxing out.

But where their rebounding struggles hurt them, their overall defense helped tremendously. The Bison forced seven first-quarter turnovers, primarily due to their full-court pressure defense. The Bison challenged every inbound, and forced Green River into multiple bad passes and turnover violations.

"It was definitely our teamwork together (to create those turnovers)," Williams said. "It was not one person, it was all of us turning the ball over together."

Things slowed down on both ends of the court for South in the second quarter, primarily in the latter half of the frame. The teams kept pace with one another, with Green River holding a slim two-point lead around the halfway mark of the second quarter.

At that point, South went cold from the field. Over the final four and a half minutes of the first half, South was outscored 11-4 and went through about a three-minute stretch with just one point to its name.

Green River used this to build on its lead, and jumped out to a seven point lead. The Wolves carried a nine point lead into the break.

South's struggles continued into the second half. Through the first half of the third, the Bison were outscored 11-2 and missed on their first six opportunities from the field. Green River, meanwhile, came out firing and built up a 21-point lead with just over three minutes to go in the third.

That deficit woke the Bison up. Throughout the remainder of the third quarter, they started to click on offense once again, and managed to cut the lead to 13 heading into the final frame.

South used that momentum from the tail end of the third quarter to spark itself in the fourth. Around the midway point of the final frame, South managed to cut the lead to single digits for the first time in the half.

But the comeback fell short, as the offense again sputtered at the tail end of the of the fourth quarter, allowing Green River to continue to build its lead. In the end, the Wolves made the free throws they needed to and played keep away to seal the victory.

Smith and Williams led South in scoring. Williams, despite playing most of the half with four fouls, picked up 13 points on the day.

Smith put together a team-leading 24-point night and was quick to thank her team for her success.

"It was definitely my teammates encouraging me to shoot," Williams said. "In the offensive end, we were all working hard together.."

Despite falling to 1-7 on the season, Epler took a lot of positives out of this game. Mona Montgomery and Ebony Gunn were two players he was quick to point out. While their efforts may not show up on the box score, they came up with clutch rebounds, defensive play and effort that helped the Bison throughout the game.

South also showed a good amount of fight in the game. At any point during the second and third quarter when things began to go south, the Bison could have easily folded up and just rode out the rest of the game.

But they didn't, and played well for about a seven-minute stretch that helped cut into the Wolves lead. While the final result was not what the team was looking for overall, the sense of urgency the team showed was a major stepping stone that Epler needed to see.

"Overall, I was pleased (with our performance tonight)," Epler said. "I felt like this was closer to a complete game that we have had up until this point.

"In past games, we never had that sense of urgency, and the game (slips away)."


Green River...... 15 17 16 14—62

Cheyenne South....... 13 10 12 13—48

Cheyenne South: Montgomery 0, Brennan 7, Morales 0, Ward 0, Wedemeyer 0, Gunn 2, Smith 13, Williams 24, Vantassell 3, Garcia 0.

Green River: Strauss 15, Braden 13, Murray 1, Burgess 3, Stanton 11, Killpack 6, Vasco 0, Moffett 10, Demaret 2, Hernandez 0.

Matt Atencio covers Laramie County prep sports for WyoSports. He can be reached at Follow him on Twitter at @MattAtencio5.