The Valley Buffalo Boys entered the 1A State BasketballTournament with an RPI #2 ranking among a field of 22 teams in Richfield last week.

The long weekend began on Wednesday versus the #15 Milford Tigers (7-15), whom they sported a plus 36 point differential accumulated during their two previous league outings. But, by the end of regulation, the game was tied 31-31.

Early in the first of three overtime stanzas, KSL broadcasters were proclaiming the stellar-played game an “Instant Classic!”  

In the first OT, each team scored seven, 38-38.  With seven seconds remaining in the second OT, with Milford ahead, 44-42, sharp-shooter point guard Conner Chamberlain, from an inbounds pass, crucially scampered the full length of the court for an under-the-bucket deuce, matching it once again as time expired! 

In the third four-minute extension, the Buffalos exploded, scoring 16 points to the Tiger’s eight, to win 60-52.

On Thursday, Valley flew through the #7 Piute Thunderbirds, whom they’d bested by a 10-point combined margin in their two seasonal contests, 44-17. 

Friday’s match with the #6 Panguitch Bobcats, with whom they’d split in two league games, resulted in a heart-breaking (yes, there are tears in basketball) last-second 34-33 loss, not helped by an errant free throw, following a halftime lead of 14-11. One single point!

Head coach Owen Hoyt would later disparage, though not without hope, “that’s the way the ball bounces.”

Thus, setting up a leap year day meeting with the initial #1-rated Manila Mustangs, also bearing one loss, in what many anticipated would be for the championship. The Buffs had won their Central Utah Preview by 13; this time by 15, in a decisive 44-29 victory.

Senior Ricky Bullock said, “Obviously, we could’ve won a State Championship. And I wish we would’ve gotten that far. I’m just glad we ended with a “W” and we did what we needed to do to win that game.”

During halftime of the title game, the team was acknowledged for their first place State All-Academic achievement from among the current 1A squads. 

The Buffalo fellas (21-5 overall, 13-1 in Region 20, nationally ranked 4262) rallied for the third place finish.

On the season: of the famed three-headed monster: Gavin Hoyt was high-point ace with 320 (19 three’s), narrowly out-pacing Conner Chamberlain’s 311 (48 treys) and Braden Heaton’s 288. Casey Reck follows with 152, Ricky Bullock with 108, accompanied by Jerry Gerrard’s 90, as well as McCoy Harris’s 64, including 14 treys.

Beloved coach-emeritus James (“Jimbo” to his boys) Hoyt said,  “We had a really great season this year.  We ended up a little bit shorter than we hoped for; but we had great bunch of kids, and it’s been awesome working with them this year.” 

After knocking off #1 Manila in the semifinals, 52-49, #5 seed Bryce Valley edged Panguitch, 36-34, to win the 1A state title.