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December 24, 2008 3:34 am

Buffalo slips past Panthers

Written by Tribune Staff

Bison register 50-39 victory

A 20-13 run in the third period opened up a close game and helped No. 3 Buffalo High School get past Powell last Friday night at BHS.

The Panthers (2-4 overall, 0-2 West Conference) trailed by five points at the end of the first and second periods, but the Bison opened up a 12-point advantage by the start of the final quarter of play in the Class 3A matchup.

“They got ahead by 17 early in the third period after hitting back-to-back 3-point shots,” said PHS head coach Troy Hildebrand. “We had some trouble taking care of the ball during that stretch, and they were able to convert at the other end. About midway through the third, we were able to put together a run of our own, and it continued into the fourth. But we just couldn't get the baskets we needed down the stretch.”

During that comeback effort, PHS's Jordan Brown and Dallas Robirds each hit key 3-pointers. Robirds' trey came at the end of the third period and left the Panthers facing a 41-29 deficit. PHS cut Buffalo's lead to six points during the fourth stanza, but that's as close as they could get down the stretch during its upset bid.

“Buffalo has a good, solid team,” Hildebrand said. “We had some missed shots that hurt us, but we still battled back and gave ourselves a chance late in the game. That's a good sign of the leadership we have on this team.”

Hildebrand also noted that turnovers hampered PHS's effort. Prior to last Friday's loss, the Panthers committed just seven turnovers during a 44-41, overtime loss to Jackson less than a week earlier. Against the Bison, who compete in the East Conference, the Panthers committed 18 turnovers while Buffalo suffered only 12.

“We didn't do as well when it came to taking care of the ball,” Hildebrand said. “But we did come away with some positive points that we can build on during the Christmas break and before we start the final two-thirds of our season.”

Among the bright spots last Friday was the the Panthers' rebounding effort. PHS outrebounded the Bison by a 36-31 margin. But whereas Buffalo lost the battle of the boards, it came out on top when it came to shots from 3-point range. The Bison finished the contest with an eight-of-18 clip behind the arc. Five of those 3-pointers came in the third period. Powell, on the flip side, connected on just two of 13 shots from 3-point land.

PHS's leading scorer was Ryan Brandt, who finished with 13 points. He was followed by Jordan Brown (7 points), Galen Mills (6), Matt McArthur (5), Dallas Robirds (3), Brandon Sullivan (2), Matt Kifer (2) and Gavin Mills (1).

Galen Mills paced the Panthers' rebounding effort with a season-high 11 boards. Brandt added 10 rebounds, and Brown contributed with six. Brown also recorded a team-leading six assists.

PHS was scheduled to face Thermopolis Saturday at home, but that contest was canceled due to extreme cold temperatures and the threat of dangerous road conditions.

• Up next: The Panthers will enjoy a lengthy break from action, thanks to the holiday season. PHS's next game will be Friday, Jan. 9, at home against Kemmerer. The following day, the Panthers are slated to host Lyman.

Kemmerer, during the final WyoPreps.com Coaches and Media Poll before the Christmas break, held the No. 1 spot. Both games are Class 3A, West Conference matchups.