CASPER – The Southeast High School boys’ basketball team finished the season with a third place run at the Wyoming 1A State Basketball Championships last week in Casper.
The Cyclones finished the season with a 2-1 state tournament record and 15-9 season record.
In the opening round, Southeast defeated defending state-runner up Farson-Eden 47-34.
It was close throughout, but the Cyclones pulled away in the second half for the 13-point win.
“It was a very physical, defensive game,” coach Crockett Herring said.
Southeast trailed 18-16 at halftime but outscored the Pronghorns 31-16 over the final 16 minutes to advance to the semifinal round.
“We were 1-of-11 in the first half from 3,” Herring said. “But in the fourth quarter, we were 3-of-3.”
Senior Hayden Anderson led the Cyclones with 16 points, while senior Sawyer Anderson added 11 points. Both Andersons also grabbed six rebounds apiece.
Later that evening, Southeast faced off against the defending state champion Saratoga Panthers at 9 p.m.
Ultimately, the Cyclones struggled from the start in the 44-33 loss.
“We didn’t shoot very well,” Herring said. “That’s been our MO. When we shoot well, we are pretty good, but when we don’t we’re just average.”
Senior Bodie Herring’s 3-pointer with 5:14 left in first quarter gave Southeast an early 3-2 lead.
It proved to be the only lead of the game for Southeast.
Saratoga answered with a triple of their own, and with 3:30 left in the opening quarter, senior Harrison Hall tied the game at five apiece.
That was as close as Southeast came to seeing the lead for the remainder of the game.
“We put a lot of energy into the first game against Farson,” Herring said. “We had to, to get the win.”
The lack of energy in the semifinal round showed as Southeast was 3-of-15 from 3-point range against Saratoga.
The Panthers held a 23-19 lead by halftime, pushing it to 32-25 at the end of the third quarter.
With 5:32 left in the game, Herring’s bucket closed the Southeast deficit to 34-31, but Saratoga held the Cyclones to only two points for the remainder of the contest.
Herring led the team with 14 points, while Hayden Anderson and senior Durward Randall added seven apiece.
The loss dropped the Cyclones to Thursday afternoon third-place game against the Dubois Rams.
Herring knew they would have to come and play well if they wanted to get the win.
“Dubois is a pretty good basketball team. Their big kid is good, and they have a couple guards. They play hard. If we don’t come out ready to play and make a few shots, we’ll have the same result as (Wednesday night).”
After a slow start, Southeast battled back to end the season with a 61-55 victory.
The Cyclones trailed the entire first quarter, but with 5:45 left in the second, Sawyer Anderson tied the game at 20 apiece. Less than two minutes later, Sawyer gave Southeast its first lead of the day at 22-20 off a steal and layup.
By halftime, Southeast clung to a 26-25 lead, but Dubois regained the lead early in the third quarter; 35-30 with 5:21 remaining in the third.
Coming out of a timeout, Dubois never scored again for the remainder of the quarter. Southeast scored the next 13 points to take a 43-35 lead into the final eight minutes of the season.
“They were tired. We were too. I told the kids, it comes from here,” Herring said pointing at his heart. “This game sucks. We got beat last year, and we showed as much effort as we did last year, but we were a year older. We were able to get over some mental mistakes.”
The Cyclone lead reached as many as 12 following Randall’s 3-for-4 trip to the free throw line, including a pair for a technical foul on the Dubois bench with 1:50 to go in the game.
Over the final moments of the game, Dubois trimmed the deficit to six as Southeast failed to score in the final 1:17 of the game.
Hayden Anderson led the Cyclones with 18 points, while Sawyer Anderson added 14. Junior Cord Herring had 13 points.
“Sawyer made his bunnies. He had those inside shots, and in the last couple games, he’s rebounded well. His brother Hayden tried too hard in the first half in his last game. Harrison Hall played a hell of a game, defensively. He might not be in the stat book, but he held (Max Claar) in check when he was in the game.”
The win marked the final game for six Southeast seniors.
“I’m proud of all the seniors,” Herring said. ““Next year, we’ll have some sophomores who got in late in the game. They’ve come a long way in the JVs, and they are going to have to step up. If coach (Craig) Leithead does his job, we’ll be okay,” Herring said laughing. “We’ll have a change to get back to state and scare someone.”
Southeast finished the season with a 15-9 record.
“We played a tough schedule. Of our nine losses, four of them came to teams playing (in the state championship game) and Bridgeport is going to state in Nebraska,” Herring said. “There are very few teams that can say they ended the season with a win, so a third-place trophy is better than nothing.”