BIG HORN — The Big Horn High School boys basketball team received a reminder of the intensity required to beat a good opponent Saturday afternoon. Coming off a 58-52 victory at No. 2 Wright, the fourth-ranked Rams fell to Rocky Mountain 53-39 at home in a nonconference game. The loss snapped Big Horn’s eight-game winning streak and dropped the Rams to 11-3 overall.
Big Horn appeared sluggish to start the game, digging itself too deep a hole from which to recover. The players may have been fatigued after a tough contest the night before as well, coming up short on most of their outside shots.
Big Horn head coach Mike Daley said Saturday provided a humbling loss after a thrilling victory Friday night.
“Basketball is an interesting game,” Daley said. “It’s a game you’ve gotta keep turned on all the time …It’s a game that’ll humble you in a hurry if you’re not mentally prepared to play.”
Daley said Big Horn gave the Grizzlies confidence early on, and Rocky Mountain took control of the game after a subpar first quarter by the Rams. Big Horn trailed 13-4 after the first frame and didn’t score in the final four-and-a-half minutes.
The Rams didn’t play with their usual verve, which Daley said was partly his fault. The head coach opted to play mostly half-court defense to start the game instead of Big Horn’s usual 94-foot press.
Daley was trying to conserve the players’ energy, but the decision didn’t work as intended. With few fastbreak opportunities off of turnovers, the Rams’ offense stagnated at times in the half court. Throughout the contest, Big Horn couldn’t muster many easy buckets.
Rocky Mountain was also spurred by its 3-point shooting advantage. The Rams didn’t make any shots from behind the arc, while the Grizzlies hit five, including two back-breaking 3s late in the fourth quarter to stretch their lead to 14 points.
Big Horn closed the gap several times but couldn’t get the lead under five points for the vast majority of the second half.
The Rams’ press caused Rocky Mountain some trouble in the second half, but it wasn’t enough to make up for the lackadaisical performance in the opening two quarters.
Big Horn trailed 23-14 at halftime and came out with great energy in the third quarter, scoring six points in the first minute. After that, though, the Grizzlies went on a 10-2 run and never looked back.
On the positive side, Saturday’s game was a nonconference clash, so it doesn’t affect the Rams’ postseason seeding. With Friday’s victory, Big Horn is in the driver’s seat with a 3-0 record in the 2A Northeast quadrant.
The weekend also gave the team a sense of the level it needs to perform at to make a deep postseason run.
“We’re going to be able to have a good barometer of what’s happening on the other side of the state and we now know what we’ve gotta do to beat a pretty good basketball team,” Daley said.
The Rams host Tongue River Thursday at 8 p.m.
Rocky Mountain…13 10 11 19 — 53
Big Horn…….….…4 10 12 13 — 39
Rocky Mountain — Winland 20, Price 12, Simmons 12, Moss 2, Banks 2, Robinson 2, Horrocks 1
Big Horn — VanDyken 13, Eisele 12, Bradshaw 4, Bates 2, McCafferty 2, Parker 2, Pelissier 2, Johnson 2