DAYTON — A little over a month ago, the Tongue River boys basketball team lost to Greybull in a nonconference matchup by 30. Friday night at Tongue River High School, the Eagles were mere inches from forcing overtime with the Buffs in the two teams’ conference opener.
Greybull hung on for a 57-55 victory, which dropped Tongue River to 2-10 on the season, but the rally is what Tongue River head coach Tyler Hanson is focused on.
“I felt like, the way the guys fought, and the way that they played — they play really hard— and they put us in a position to have a chance,” Hanson said. “It just didn’t work out for us, and that’s all part of competing. You win some you lose some.”
The Eagles trailed 47-34 midway through the third quarter when two things worked in their favor — one that Tongue River created and another that Greybull created. The Eagles implemented a full-court press with some of its players that it uses sparingly and that flustered the Buffs. Greybull’s Elian Davila lost his composure shortly after the press was put on and shoved a Tongue River player to the floor and was issued a technical foul and ejected from the game.
The Eagles used all of this momentum and swiftly made it a 49-46 game with 7:21 left.
“You could just tell they were flustered,” Hanson said. “We had all the momentum in the world, and I think that fueled us to make that comeback.”
Greybull stretched its lead out to as many as six at 56-50 with just over two minutes to play, but five quick points from Tongue River’s Eli Cummins brought the Eagles to within one with 1:26 to play. The Buffs proceeded to make just one of their next six free-throw attempts leaving the door ajar for the Eagles to potentially tie or take the lead.
James Richards had the best look to even it up with under five seconds to play, but his layup just rimmed out.
Daie’n Bear Don’t Walk paced Tongue River with 11 points, while Cummins and Cade Reish chipped in 10 points apiece.
Hanson, while disappointed in the final outcome, walked away pleased with his team’s fight, effort and execution, all things that the Eagles can build on moving forward.
“That’s the hardest we’ve played all year,” Hanson said. “That’s the best effort we’ve had. … I think for sure it’s something we can build on. Our guys should see that, ‘Hey that team beat us by 30, and now we lost to them by two.’ So obviously that’s improvement. We are getting better.”
The Eagles — who have lost five in a row — travel to Riverside Saturday.
Greybull………..19 16 12
Tongue River….16 14 12
Greybull — Tracey 17; Kraft 16; Hill 7; Davila 5; Clark 5; McBride 4; Hunt 1
Tongue River — Bear Don’t Walk 11; Reish 10; Cummins 10; Summers 6; Rees 6; Clair 5; McMeans 3; Richards 2; McCafferty 2