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Valley High Buffalos rise high and play hard at State

The Buffalo Boys assault on the 1A State Championship commenced on Thursday, February 28, with an RPI #10-ranking versus the #7 Wayne Badgers at 5:30 p.m. on the main Sevier Valley Center gymnasium. Scoring a dismal two points in the first frame compared to the Badgers 14 with the onset of the 31-13 halftime proved insurmountable even in the face of a third-stanza Valley advantage of 21-15, coupled with their 19-18 edge in the fourth along Wayne’s way to its 64-53 win.

Left to right, photos by Jerry Melrose:

  • Ivan Spencer, shooting for first of two free-throws in the waning moments of Valley’s 72-53 victory versus the Tintic Miners with Boede Cox looking on. Of his four attempts on the day, he made two.

  • Johnny Cox, six-foot three-inch senior center, rising to the occasion versus the Green River Pirates while launching toward his 59-point four-game contribution in the State Tournament. The Buffalos finished sixth among the 1A’s 22-team Championship competition. 

  • Preston Franklin gets his shot away while leaping alongside his Tintic Miners counterpart’s efforts at entangling his fingers to distract his aim.

Jace Cox paced the Buffs with 17, based on seven doubles, one triple and of its sole free-throw attempt scoring zero, as written [7-1-1-0]. Johnny Cox tallied 13 [1-3-2-2], Warren Spencer 11 [4- 1-0-0], Holden Harris five [1-0-4-3] along with Boede Cox’s four [2-0-0-0].

Designated thereafter to the Consolation Rounds, on February 29, they leapt into the Richfield High School gym at 7 p.m., tangling with the #15-ranked Bryce Valley Mustangs, whom they strung along throughout: 17-3 in the first, 26-14 midway, and 34- 24 in the third toward their eventual 47-35 wake-up call victory.

Once again, Jace was the high-man with 20 [5-2-6-4], joined by Johnny’s 13 [3-1-4-4], Boede’s six [0-2-0-0], Warren’s four [0-0- 10-4] and Ivan Spencer’s deuce [1-0-2-0], coupled with Holden’s [1-0-0-0].

On March 1 at 2:30 p.m., they met the #11 Tintic Miners, dramatically disposing of them in similar fashion: 17-10, 30-21, 43-32 and ultimately, 72-53. This time a near-perfect textbook 22-point [3-4-4-4] performance from three point specialist Boede Cox sledge-hammered the Buffs along with Johnny’s 19 [7-0-6-5], Jace’s 13 [6-0-2-1], Ivan’s four [1-0-4-2], Warren’s four more [2-0-2-0] and Holden’s foremost [2-0-0-0], in addition to Payson Harris’s pair [1-0-0-0].

Following that decisive conquest, on driver Kelly Lamb’s two-and-a-half-hour school bus ride home, a palpable atmosphere of excitement was felt in the midst of the team accompanying the prospect of increasing their fortunes from their original #10 RPI-ranking into the possibility of pillaging into the tournament’s overall sixth place from the #8 Green River Pirates!

Starting out of the gate at 11:30 with a 9-3 first-frame lead into a 15-14 half, the Valley brain trust of brother coaches Owen and Nick Hoyt, along with Jake Millard, challenged, advised and energetically cajoled their attentively enwrapped squad into a motivational spirit of calm determination. Whatever the source, they weren’t buffaloed, but rather brought a blistering second-half rain of 35-18 scores, highlighted by three of Boede’s treys and five of Johnny’s deuces homing into their 50-32 captivating kidnap of the rudderless Pirates.

On the day, Johnny coaxed-in 14 [6-0-2-2], as Boede bombed-in 12 [0-4-2-0]. Jace placed eight [2-1-2-1], Warren warrened-down seven [3-0-2-1], Preston pressed-in six [2-0-2- 2], as Holden holed-up three [0-1-0-0].

“You know, this group is an incredible group; and I really, really enjoy coaching them,” began Coach Owen Hoyt’s pensive reflections. “It’s because I like them so much. I like all the teams I coach, but this one in particular. They’re competitive; they work hard. They like each other; they’re cohesive. Great, great group of young men!” Continuing with observations on the season, he concluded, “That’s why I like sports so much, [they] teach us to overcome challenges. This group did a great job!”

Out-going senior, Preston Franklin, noted, “It was a good game: the last game of the year. It definitely feels good to take the win! We played better on defense; it showed tonight. Everyone had good energy.“

Johnny Cox, laughingly added, “It really was a fun year! [We] couldn’t quite win the State Tournament; we ended up sixth overall. I was hoping for a dunk, but couldn’t quite get it.”

Ivan Spencer shared his thoughts the team’s future going forward, “Well, I feel like definitely I could have had a lot more potential if I would have played the first three years, and I really would’ve excelled this year. I feel like it was, honestly, good for me as a senior to come in and do this, ‘cause it gave me more chances to hang-out with the boys I’ve been growing-up with my whole life. I feel like it’s been kind of a learning curve for myself learning what I could do. I’m just trying to expand myself as a person overall.

“I think that these guys can continue it next year since four of the starters are going to be returning. Holden’s coming up; he’s gotta’ be better and stronger next year. They’re losing Johnny and Preston, but I think they’ve got plenty of good players to fill those spots.”

Boede Cox spoke up, looking ahead, also, “My last game shoulda’ done better: missed a buncha’ shots, but we’ll have that. [We] had a good game the night before and scored 22 points. I can’t wait for next season! We just need to toughen our boys up and get them strong, ‘cause they are all weak,” he knowingly hinted within easy earshot of the chuckling underclassmen surrounding him as he assessed. “They’re gonna’ be solid.”

Warren Spencer summarized his game, saying, “Well, I knew it was the game of the season, regardless of the outcome, so I decided I’d give it all I got and do as much as I could for the team.” Then, turning his attention to the ‘24-’25 campaign, he gauged, “With Jace, me, Boede, Holden and Hogan - we [have] a lot of kids that are gonna’ step-up. I’m real excited about next year!”




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