Mountain View hoops teams fall to Lander

Mountain View junior Bailey Henstra blocks a shot by Evanston’s Zocia Nowakowski during a game earlier this season. The Lady Buffalos faced off against Lander last Saturday, losing 61-51. (HERALD PHOTO/Don Cogger)

The Mountain View High School basketball teams have been on a roll of late, with the Buffalos and Lady Buffalos currently ranked No. 4 in the state in Class 3A.

Those rankings were put to the test last Saturday on the road, as the teams traveled to Lander to take on the Tigers and Lady Tigers, both of whom are also ranked in the Top 5. The defending state 3A champion Tigers were able to hold off a gutsy Mountain View squad 65-60 in double overtime, while the Lady Tigers got the best of the Lady Buffs 61-51.

The loss didn’t affect the Buffalos’ ranking, which held steady at No. 4. The Lady Buffs dropped a spot from No. 3 to No.4 heading into this weekend.

The MVHS teams host Lyman Friday night for Bridger Valley bragging rights, then travel to Manila, Utah Saturday for a pair of non-conference contests.

Lander 61, Lady Buffs 51

“I felt like we got to Lander Saturday, and didn’t quite get off the bus,” said MVHS head coach Jessica Moretti of her team’s performance. “We struggled that first quarter — we only shot 18 percent from the field — so it was a rough start for us.”

Against the No. 3 Lady Tigers last Saturday, Mountain View got off to a slow start, spotting Lander a 11-4 lead at the end of the first quarter. The Lady Tigers pushed that lead to 11 by the break, holding a 28-17 halftime lead. Bailey Henstra had the hot hand for the Lady Buffs in the first half, netting seven points. Kailee Dellinger and Haily Stephens finished the first half with four points apiece.

“We had a good talk in the locker room, and the girls came out and shot 46 percent for both quarters,” Moretti said. “We won the second half. We had opportunities in that first half to shoot, we just weren’t finishing at the basket. I think a little more focus going into the second half helped us a lot.”

The Lady Buffs came alive to start the second half, with Stephens scoring Mountain View’s first five points of the third quarter. Behind a more aggressive style of play, MVHS was able to cut the lead to eight late in the third, but a Lander 3-pointer at the buzzer put the lead back at 11. The score was 46-35 heading into the final frame.

The fourth quarter was much of the same, though the Lady Buffs outscored Lander 16-15. With the Lady Tigers matching shot for shot, MVHS was only able to cut the lead by a point, losing 61-51.

“It’s hard to win a game when you only play half of it,” Moretti said. “Lander had a cushion early into that second quarter, and we weren’t able to break that back down. They [Lander] hit the ground running, and we waited until the second half, apparently...Lander had the upper hand, and that’s a team you don’t want to get into that situation with.”

Stephens led the charge for Mountain View, finishing with 16 points; she also led the team in assists with eight and rebounds with six.

“Haily Stephens stepped up and showed great leadership that second half,” Moretti said. “She scored 12 of her 16 points in the second half. She did a great job.

Emalee Bugas netted nine points to go along with a pair of steals, while Katie Giorgis added eight points. Henstra finished with seven points, followed by Sadie Mitchell with six.

“Emalee was our second-leading scorer and was just consistent,” Moretti said. “She’s always just level-headed, and that’s one thing I like about her. She’s consistent for us every game.”

Mountain View will host conference rival Lyman today (Friday), and with both teams currently ranked in the Top 5 in 3A, it should be a fight to the finish.

Lander 65,

Buffalos 60 2OT

The matchup between the No. 2 and No. 4 teams in 3A more than lived up to its billing, with the defending 3A state champion Tigers holding on in a wild one against the Buffalos 65-60 in double overtime.

The game was back and forth from the start, with the score knotted at 14-14 at the end of the first quarter. Mountain View went on to a 6-0 run to start the second quarter to take a 20-14 lead, with all six points attributed to Luke Branson, making his presence felt off the bench.

Lander called a timeout to regroup, and it seemed to work — the Tigers went on an 8-1 run to re-take the lead 22-21.

With four seconds left in the half, Mountain View’s Briggin Bluemel scored on a putback from a missed layup and was fouled — the 3-point play gave the Buffalos a 24-22 lead at the break. Branson finished the half with 10 points, followed by seven from Bluemel.

The Tigers finally gained an advantage in the second overtime with an 8-3 run, holding on for the 65-60 win.

The Buffalos finished with four players scoring in double digits, led by Branson with 14 points. Hunter Meeks and Ashton Schofield netted 11 points apiece, while Bluemel rounded out the double-digit scorers with 10.

“Overall, we are confident moving forward after the double overtime loss to Lander,” said MVHS head coach Dustin Rees. “We feel like we could really make a run. All our focus is now on Lyman.”

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