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March 7, 2013     Lovell Chronicle
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March 7, 2013 I The Lovell Chronicle I 9 DAVID PECK Senior center Cody Savage powers for a basket against the Lusk Tigers in Saturday night's championship at the Casper Events Center as Travis Smith (4) and Derick VandeBossche attempt to defend. KARLA POMEROY The Lovell Bulldogs leap and hug for joy at the final horn after defeating the Lusk Tigers 46-35 in Saturday night's 2A championship game. Pictured are (l-r) Dylan Hultgren, Kade Nicholls, Ryan Clark, Jacob Adey and Seth Kite. BY DAVID PECK One of the chief axioms in sports is that defense wins championships, and that was certainly the case with the Lovell Bulldogs Saturday as they shut down the Lusl Tigers 46-35 to win the state basketball champi- onship at the Casper Events Center. It was Lovell's ninth boys basketball title and the first since 2003. Lusk came into the title game on a roll. The Tigers (23-4) dispatched defend- ing champion and second- ranked Wyoming Indian in the first round Thursday, 51-40, and overpowered East Regional champion and third-ranked Big Horn 70-58 in Friday night's semifinal. But defense won the day for Lovell. Lusk had scored 70 points the night before against Big Horn. The Tigers scored 35 Sat- urday. They had four play- ers in double figures against Big Horn, one against the Bulldogs. Some fans and members of the media lamented the lack of a Lovell-Wyoming In- dian finale, but Lovell coach Brian May said the Tigers were legit. "When Lusk goes down and beats Wyoming Indi- an and then beats Big Horn you feel Lusk is the team you want to play," May said. "They beat quality oppo- nents and were deserving of being in the championship game." May said the Bulldogs knew going into the game that the Tigers were quick and had excellent shooters. But May and fellow coach- es RJ May and Craig Lund- berg also knew that the Ti- gers hadn't seen a defensive team the likes of Lovell. "We felt Lusk hadn't seen the type of defense we were capable of playing, and we knew we would make it difficult for them to score," May said. Early in the game it was Lovell's inside power ver- sus Lusk's jump shooting. A Cody Savage bucket was answered by a jumper off a screen by Lusk guard Hunt- er Dockery, and after Aus- tin Ellis scored on a reverse layup, Dockery drained a three-pointer to give the Ti- gers a 5-4 lead. Using a tough man-to- man defense, the Bulldogs only allowed one basket and three points the rest of the quarter while scoring 8 on a Ryan Clark jump shot, a transition bank shot by Dylan Hultgren, two free throws by Hultgren and a corner jumper by Hultgren. Lovell led 12-8 after one. 'Tv'e felt that a man would be our best defense if we would communicate on screens to allow us to get through them," May said. "We also wanted to antici: pate the screens coming so when the offensive player would be there to catch (the ball) we would be there to contest the shot. "Lusk runs a flex and likes that down screen. The hold it and get a quick curl off the screen for a jump shot, or they catch and pen- etrate. The thing I liked was that we were squaring up on the offensive player and not allowing easy penetration to the basket." Another huge key, May said, was rebounding. On most possessions the Tigers got only one shot and then the Bulldogs were hurrying to the other end. Lusk tied the score at 12 and 14 in the second quar- ter, but the Bulldogs fin- ished the first half with a 9-2 run led by Ellis, who crashed the offensive boards for follow shots. "They were playing a sagging 1-3-1," May said. "They wanted us to shoot more from the perimeter than use our size advantage. I thought in the first quarter we were settling too much for the outside shot. You have to penetrate and kick and look for the high post. The high post has to make good decisions, "There's a weakness in the 1-3-1 that we did a good job working on, and that's giving up offensive re- bounds. It's kind of hard to box out in something like that." Lusk hung tough in the third quarter, outscoring Lovell 11-9 despite 4 points each by Savage and Hult- gren. Lovell still led by five points at the quarter break, 32-27. The Bulldogs were nev- er really threatened in the fourth quarter. The five se- niors made sure of it. Sav- age started the quarter with buckets on a drive and a spin move, and after Lusk free throws Ellis scored on a fast break for a 38-29 Lovell lead. An 8-2 run later in the quarter that includ- ed a Clark jumper, a Savage bank shot, a Hultgren bas- ket inside and free throws by Kade Nicholls put the Bulldogs up 46-33 under a minute to play before a late Lusk basket made the final score 46-35. Savage fmished with 17 points and 10 rebounds, Hultgren 12 points and five assists and Ellis 10 points and 14 rebounds. Clark add- ed 4 points, Nicholls 3. The Bulldogs shot 53 percent from two-point range but were 0-7 from behind the three-point line. The win put the finish- ing touches on a 25-1 sea- son for the Bulldogs that included three wins over Wyoming Indian and four wins over Class 3A oppo- nents. May said it all boiled down to teamwork and un- selfish play. "One of the biggest things was the team unity and the accepting of roles," he said. "The kids who don't get recognition are the kids in practice battling your se- nior group. The kids off the bench don't get enough rec- ognition for the things they do in practice to help us prepare for the game. "We had not only our 12 varsity kids but four of five others stay for the ex- tra practices just to help us prepare (for tourna- ments). Those are the types of things they just don't get enough credit for." The win was the final game for seniors Savage, Clark, Ellis Hulgren and Nicholls. "We had extremely pos- itive, quality leadership from our seniors," May said. "All of them were coach- able, hard-working, goal- oriented kids." The box score: LOVELL (46) Chase Tippetts 0 0-0 0, Brandon Wolvington 0 0-0 0, Dylan Hultgren 4 4-4 12, Kade Nicholls 0 3-4 3, Seth Kite 0 0-0 0, Austin Ellis 4 2-3 10, Ryan Clark 2 0-2 4, Cody Sav- age8 1-2 17. Totals 18 10-15 46. LUSK (35) Matthew VandeBossche 0 0-0 0, Travis Smith 3 3-6 9, Denton Shaw 0 0-0 0, Hunter Dockery 6 0-0 13, Craig Christianson 0 1-2 1, Jordan Jackson 0 0-0 0, Kevin Christianson 3 0-0 6, Colter Larson 0 0-0 0, De- rick VandeBossche 3 0-0 6. Totals 15 4-8 35. Lovell 12 11 9 14-46 Lusk 8 8 11 8- 35 Three-point field goals -- Dockery 1. Fouled out - none. Total fouls - Lovel112, Lusk 13. im BY DAVID PECK The typical check list for a first-round game en route to a state championship typ- ically doesn't include: "Sit leading scorer for 22 minutes due to foul trouble." But a successful check list might include: "Have se- nior point guard step up big time." Both scenarios played out at Casper College Thurs- day night as the Lovell Bull- dogs powered past the Burns Broncs 68-40 in the first round of the Class 2A state tournament. Burns had some size in beefy Travis Romsa and Cole Bostron, and they had out- side shooting in senior Colby Ward. But the Bulldogs had far too much experience and depth for the Broncs to han- die, even though center and top-scorer Cody Savage had to sit with foul trouble for much of the game. "I guess it was just the DAVID PECK Senior power forward Ryan Clark slashes to the basket against the Lusk Tigers during Saturday night's championship game. way the game was called," Coach Brian May said of Savage's foul trouble. "Some- times there's not a lot you can do about it except contin- ue to play and hope the other kids will pick up the slack. "A couple of the fouls in my opinion weren't legit, and a couple were on Cody. Romsa is a big frame kid and uses his body well. When we went to the zone in the sec- ond half and trapped out of that we slowed him down. He couldn't catch it where he wanted it in spots and when he did catch it we had a cou- ple of guys around him." Dylan Hultgren took charge for the Bulldogs. The senior started the game with a three-pointer from the corner off the opening tap and added a rare four-point play - trey plus free throw - a minute or so later to put Lovell up 9-2. Burns tried to hang in, pretty much match- ing the Bulldogs basket for basket the rest of the quar- ter, but a trey by Kade Nich- olls and another by Hultgren SEE 'BURNS WIN' page 12 Big rule insid as Bulldog top Thermop BY DAVID PECK It was an all-west semi- final at the Casper Events Center late Friday night as the Lovell Bulldogs matched up with the Thermopolis Bobcats, and much like the regional tournament semifi- nal a week earlier, the bat- tling Bobcats gave the Bull- dogs a run before Lovell prevailed 58-44. Lovell came out strong and quickly took a 10-2 lead on two free throws by Cody Savage, an assist from Sav- age to Austin Ellis for two, an in-bounds play to Savage, a Savage hook shot and a jumper by Ryan Clark. Ther- mop fought back, however, and outscored the Bulldogs 6-2 over the last four min- utes to trail by only four, 12- 8, after one. "We knew Thermopolis is a team that has kept im- proving throughout the sea- son," Coach Brian May said. 'Tfe knew they play hard for 32 minutes and that we would have to do the same. We allowed them to hit too many threes. Their kids had better shooting than the pre- vious games, which allowed them to stay in the game." Lovell had six turnovers in the first quarter and five more in the second against Thermop's pressure, but the Bulldogs continued to score inside when they had the chance as Ellis scored two buckets in the paint, Savage and Clark one each. Lovell led 23-18 at halftime. "One of the frustrating things was they had never full-court pressed us," May said. "We had seen a press a lot before and were able to handle it, but their press frustrated us and we turned the ball over too much. We didn't have people rotate the way they should have and running the press-breaker the way we are capable of doing." SEE 'THERMOP WIN' page 12