The Saratoga Sun -

Cat-scratched Miners take Rams

HEM Miners lose to Saratoga Panthers and Encampment Tigers, take 30 point win over Dubois Rams


February 6, 2019

Mike Armstrong

Panther Justin Jeffs runs even with Miner Conor McGraw as he heads down the court in the game on Jan. 29.

By Mike Armstrong

The Hanna, Elk Mountain, Medicine Bow (HEM) boys basketball team had very similar experiences with three teams they have met before. They lost to the two Valley teams and resoundingly beat Dubois this past week.


When the Miners met the Saratoga boys basketball team on Dec. 18, the game went into overtime with the Panthers winning 71-62. It was an exciting competition and the game on Jan. 29 was no different. It also went into overtime before the Miners came up short, losing 83-77.

Head basketball coach Cliff Jones would like to have won, but was not unhappy with his team's efforts with the second meeting with the Panthers.

"I was pleased with the effort our team played with against Saratoga," Jones said. "I thought we were aggressive on the offensive end and did some good things defensively but we gave up too many second chance points."

Jones said the determination of the Miners against the Panthers was evident although his team went down in points several times.

"I thought we did a great job fighting back after getting down several times, as did Saratoga," Jones said. "It really was a back and forth game for the most part between two pretty evenly matched teams."

Jones gave praise to the opposing players.

"You have to give credit to the Saratoga kids for winning the game. They made their free throws down the stretch and ultimately that was the difference in the game," Jones said. "I told our guys after the game that they got beat by a very good team and that I was proud of them for not giving up and continuing to play with great effort."

The shot that sent the game into overtime could not have been more exciting.

There was six seconds left with the Miners down 3 points. They had possession and Saratoga immediately covered all the Miners except freshman Jase Smith who hit the 3 point shot with the clock running out.

"Jase Smith played really well and hit a big shot to send the game into overtime," Jones said. "That was a good moment."

Connor McGraw had 21 points and Devon Grosstick had 17 points as the leading scorers.

"We had four kids in double figures scoring and two kids with double doubles; Brendon Reeves and Shane McGraw," Jones said. "Basil Phillips played well defensively and he chipped in 8 points and 7 rebounds."

He said the team played shorthanded, missing two of their rotational players, but players like Smith did the job that was needed.

"Overall I was very pleased with how well we played for the most part," Jones said. "It was the type of game that will get us prepared for the regional tournament if we can build on it."


HEM boys basketball team faced Dubois for the second time in two weeks and the outcome was similar. The Miners won by a large margin on Friday 72-35. On Jan. 25 the Miners won 57-35.

Jones was pleased with how the team rebounded after the close game against Saratoga.

"We played well at times and really did what we needed to get the win," Jones said.

C. McGraw was the leading scorer at 20 points with 5 assists, Reeves scored 18 points and S. McGraw made 12 points with 14 rebounds.


The last meeting between Encampment and HEM was on Jan. 5. The Tigers beat the Miners 69-52. On Saturday the Tigers mauled the Miners 74-41.

"We simply got beat by a better team today," Jones said. "The Encampment kids play hard. They are aggressive, pretty disciplined, and very efficient in what they do. A team cannot afford to have an off shooting day against them."

Unhappily for HEM, the Miners did not have a strong shooting day and it cost them dearly.

"To be successful against Encampment you also have bring your best effort for four full quarters, and a pair of run fast and jump high shoes," Jones said. "Unfortunately for us we did not check off enough of those boxes to get the win." 

C. McGraw was the leading scorer with 14  points

"We did do some good things in short stretches," Jones said. "Just not enough to be successful."

Jones said playing teams like HEM has the past week gets them ready for the strong competition they will face going into the end of the season.

"We have to clean up a few things but if we play with the effort we did against Saratoga and Dubois, good things will happen moving forward," Jones said.

The next scheduled game is at 4:30 p.m. on Feb. 5 against Wheatland 10th grade at HEM.


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