The Saratoga Sun -

Fighting to the final second

Encampment Tigers get to Championship round, lose by 3 point buzzer beater in overtime

 

Joshua Wood

During tipoff, Dalton Peterson, left, has his hands on the ball equally as much as Farson-Eden in a bit of foreshadowing for the game ahead.

A season that started with running clocks for the Encampment Tigers came to an end with an overtime buzzer beater shot on Saturday night in the Casper Events Center. The Tigers, who went through their regular season nearly undefeated, dispatched the Hanna, Elk Mountain and Medicine Bow (HEM) Miners on Thursday afternoon and the No. 1 East Upton Bobcats on Friday evening to face conference rivals the Farson-Eden Pronghorns in the Championship round.

Encampment vs. HEM

Encampment had already faced the Miners twice during the regular season and were victorious both times, with a score of 69-52 when they were hosted by HEM on Jan. 5 and a score of 74-41 when the Miners were hosted by Tiger Nation on Feb. 2.

When the two Carbon County School District No. 2 teams faced off in the events center on Friday, the game ended with a very similar score to their first two match-ups. While the Miners had a slow start, Encampment came out speeding as they scored 19 points in the first quarter and 18 points in the second quarter. HEM, while unable to overtake the Tigers, did just enough to prevent a running clock.

While the Miners appeared to be flustered and uncomfortable on the hardwood, Encampment seemed comfortable with the setting and surged ahead multiple times throughout the game. While HEM increased their scoring following the first quarter, it was not enough as the Tigers increased their scoring as well.

Playing against the Miners, Dalton Peterson and Kyler Miller led the scoring with 19 points and 18 points, respectively. Dayne Anderson followed with 16 points and Sean Stewart scored 7 against HEM. Stewart and Miller each had 6 rebounds while Peterson, Anderson and Schroeder had 5 rebounds.

With a final score of 77-48, Encampment secured their spot in the Championship semi-finals against Upton while the Miners headed into the Consolation rounds to play the Burlington Huskies.

Encampment vs. Upton

As the Tigers and the Bobcats entered the Natrona County High School gym, it was unclear who would come out on top. Encampment came to the game with two losses to Upton's one loss, both teams having a nearly perfect season as they fought through regionals to get to Casper. Once the game began, though, it became clear that the Bobcats were not prepared for the pressure the Tigers would place on them.

It was Upton who would start out with the lead, with Encampment trailing by only 3 points. Throughout the first half, the Tigers fought to get ahead of the Bobcats, finally doing so with a 3-point shot from Schroeder going into the half. When they came back, Encampment used the 3-pointer as a catalyst and continued to push ahead of the Bobcats, leading 45-33 halfway through the third quarter.

The fourth quarter was more of the same, with the Tigers extending their lead to nearly 20 points as Upton continued to fall behind. In the final three minutes of the game, Encampment lead 62-54 and score another 10 points while the Bobcats scored only 4 points.

Anderson and Schroeder both scored 22 points as they played against Upton with Schroeder for 3-of-4 for 3-pointers. Peterson followed with 14 points, Miller scored 8 points and Stewart scored 4 points against the Bobcats. Peterson also had 11 rebounds, followed by Stewart with 8 rebounds and Anderson with 5 rebounds.

As the game ended, Encampment was victorious with a score of 72-58 and headed into the Championship round against Farson-Eden.

Encampment vs.

Farson-Eden

The last time Encampment had made it to the Championship round was 11 years ago, when they had defeated the Southeast Cyclones when they were still 1A.

The Tigers walked onto the court at the Casper Events Center knowing full well who they were facing, as Farson-Eden had dealt them a loss during the regular season and had defeated them a week before during the 1A West Regional Tournament. Encampment was prepared to put up a fight for the Championship and Tiger Nation was prepared to cheer them on.

While a number of people from the Valley braved the winter roads to make it to Casper for the Championship round, there were some who were unable to do the same. Fortunately, they could cheer from home as Margaret Weber, owner of the Bear Trap Cafe and Bar, streamed the game. According to Weber, approximately 50 people came to watch the Tigers take on Farson-Eden and show their support.

The Pronghorns obtained an early lead against Encampment as they scored 14 points to the Tigers' 11 points in the first quarter. As the game continued, the Encampment and Farson-Eden would switch lead changes a total of five times and tie the score 12 times. Near the end of the third quarter, it looked as if the Tigers might finally get a foothold to push ahead of Farson-Eden as they shot a 3-pointer to tie the score at 41-41. Another 3-pointer, this one from the Pronghorns, put Farson-Eden in the lead going into the fourth quarter.

With only eight minutes left to determine who would win the Championship, Encampment continue bringing a fight to the hardwood in an attempt to get ahead of the Pronghorns. As the buzzer sounded, ending the regular game, the score was tied 48-48, sending the Tigers and Farson-Eden into overtime.

An additional four minutes added to the clock put Encampment going basket-for-basket with the Pronghorns and Peterson and Miller dangerously close to fouling out. With only seconds left, another tie threatened to push the game into double overtime. Following a timeout from Farson-Eden, who had possession of the ball, the Tigers attempted to do just that as a 3-point shot at the buzzer sailed through the air.

Silence covered the court as all eyes were on the ball. Almost simultaneously, the buzzer sounded and the red light of the backboard lit up as the ball sank into the basket, dealing Encampment their final loss of the year, 54-57.

For at least three of the Tigers, there was no time left as this was their final year playing for Encampment. They put everything on the court in an attempt to win the Championship and learned one of the hardest lessons; you can try your hardest and put everything you have into something and still lose.

Despite the loss, the Tigers will likely see the bulk of their team return to the hardwood next season and may get another chance to play in Casper.

 

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