Finishing their regular 1A Region 20 season with a three-game winning streak beginning on February 5, with Milford, the Buffalo Boys’ fortunes extended through two more home victories versus the Water Canyon Wildcats, 67-46, on the 9, and, avenging a 60-58 double-OT loss against the Wayne Badgers, 43-36, on the 11.
The Cats match was never in doubt; however, with the Badgers ahead 6-2 after the first-quarter, a ‘bad’ outcome seemed ominously possible. But behind a Buffalos, 16-9, bounce-back in the second to lead 18-15 at the half, and a resurgent 17-8 spread in the third, Valley cruised to the substitute-sparked fourth-frame win.
In the combined games, MaCoy Harris paced all double-digit scorers with 41; Tait Bettridge, under the boards, shot for 19; Layton Spencer had 18, in addition to Bret Heaton’s 11. The JV likewise prevailed in both, against the Wildcats, 47-38, and the Badgers, an impressive, 53-22. In those duels, high-point men were Bret Heaton (18), Johnny Cox and Warren Spencer (17 each), with Cooper Chamberlain and Boede Cox (15 each).
“You know, we’re focused on playing better defense,” Head Coach Owen Hoyt strategizes, “and we’re starting to see that materialize. You know, offense can be fickle, up and down: sometimes shots go in and sometimes they don’t. The defense should always be there for you, and this team’s learning how to play defense. I think we’re playing our best defense right now going into the tournaments. And that’s what we wanted - guys who know their roles, understand and play good defense.
“Our big guys down low are not fouling as much underneath, which keeps them in the ballgame. So, defense has become kind of our staple. And, hopefully, we can rely on it as we go into the tournament.”
Following his final homecoming game, 6’5” center Tait Bettridge welled-up with a bit of heartfelt nostalgia. “It kinda hit me. I had to go sit down on the bench for one last time. ‘Cause, like, there’s a chance that I’ll never sit on that bench ever again. So, after the game ended, I walked over and sat down just to have one last sit on those chairs. But, the team will always have a special place in my heart. I’ve been with the boys,” he thoughtfully hesitates, “I mean, we’ve been together for 10-plus years playing basketball with each other. And it means a lot.”
On Thursday the 17th, the fifth-seeded (six win/five loss, in League standings) Buffalos travel to Tropic for a meet with the fourth-seeded (4-3) Bryce Valley Mustangs. From there, it’s on to the weekend’s Region Tournament in Panguitch.