Last week, Encampment High School boys and girls basketball teams came off a tough post-homecoming week to sweep their rivals from North Park in Colorado, as well as Valley and conference rivals Saratoga.
With their winning streak, the Tigers proved that, for the week at least, they were toughest cats in the Valley, besting the North Park Wildcats and the Saratoga Panthers. Encampment even managed to deliver the wins despite the fact that the teams were stricken by a spate of illnesses, according to one coach.
"Our kids played hard and showed a lot of energy in both of the games last week," said Jake Johnston, coach of the Encampment High School boys' team. "We have been working on rebounding and I thought we did a much better job last week with this."
In Tuesday's match against North Park, the Encampment team traveled to the Centennial State beat the North Park Wildcats on their home turf by a score of 54-39. Encampment's Sean Stewart scored 21 points. Teammate Justin Bonner delivered 12 points to the board and Wyatt Cox hit six points, made 10 steals and had six assists.
Johnston's work last week on rebounding appears as though it may have paid dividends. In the game against North Park, Tigers Stewart and Cox collected plenty of rebounds. Stewart picked up 10 rebounds with Cox grabbing 16.
In Colorado, the Encampment girls took on the lady Cats and bested them by an impressive 19-point spread, adding the game to the teams' win record with a final score of 59-40.
Friday, Encampment hosted cross-Valley and conference rival Saratoga in Encampment, for a battle between the Tigers and Panthers to score much desired conference points.
The Encampment Boys grabbed the Panther by the tail and dragged them, against their will, to a 53-43 win for the Tigers. Standout performances by Stewart and Cox accounted for almost 55 percent of the teams' total points, with Stewart earning 19 points and Cox making 10. Coach Johnston's rebound game was on display again, with Cox getting 14 rebounds, and Stewart making 12.
Hosting Saratoga, the Encampment girls delivered another impressive win, achieving the W by a 16-point margin, with a final score of 48-32.
"I thought all of our kids played well," Johnston said. "Everyone hustled and did their jobs."
The Encampment boys ended the week with a record of 1-2 in their conference, and 9-5 overall. The Lady Tigers are looking at a 2-1 conference record and an 11-3 overall record. With the season roughly at the halfway point, Johnston said he was confident in the ability of the players to make it to post season play this year.
"As long as we keep playing our style of basketball and continue hustling, the rest of the season will take care of itself," Johnston said.
This week, though, the biggest thing will be getting all the players healthy, he said. With a quite a few of the student athletes sick during the week, Encampment fans should take some solace; if the Tigers can deliver wins like these while suffering illness, they ought to do pretty well against other rivals as their health improves.
Next on the agenda for the Tigers is to face off against conference rival Rattlers of Little Snake River at their home in Baggs Jan. 27. The Tigers will then have a week to prepare for their next game against Farson-Eden, another conference team, Feb. 3 at home in Encampment.