Southeast boys fall to Burns, Saratoga

LARAMIE – The Southeast High School boys’ basketball team suffered losses to Burns and Saratoga over the weekend, dropping the Cyclones to 11-5 on the season.

On Thursday, the Cyclones fell to the Burns Broncs 57-53.

Southeast led the entire first half minus the opening minute of the game. Burns scored first, but the Cyclones countered with an 11-2 run.

It was a Cyclone lead which reached 18-8 late in the opening quarter.

However, Burns scored the final two points of the first quarter, it was the start of a 9-2 run, cutting the Southeast lead to four at 24-20 with two minutes left before halftime.

Cyclone sophomore Kannon Tippetts scored his only points of the game, slowing the Burns run.

By halftime, Southeast clung to a 28-26 lead.

The Cyclones held on to the lead until the 5:45 mark in the third when Burns took a 31-30 lead.

It was the first of four lead changes over the remainder of the third quarter.

The final lead change came with a Burns 3-pointer with :30 left in the quarter.

The Broncs lead reached 47-42 in the early moments of the fourth quarter, but Southeast charged back to tie the game at 47 with a senior Kyler Clark’s triple. However, on the ensuing possession Burns broke the tie.

The game was tied on one more occasion, but Burns started to slowly pull away. The Bronc lead reached the largest of the game at 57-50 with under a minute to play as the visitors held on for the four-point victory.

Senior Austin Short led the Cyclones with 17 points, while senior Cooper Larkin added 16 points and pulled down a team-high nine rebounds.

The next day, Southeast met Saratoga at Arena-Auditorium in Laramie to become the first high school teams to grace the University of Wyoming basketball court in nearly 20 years.

“This was huge,” coach Craig Leithead said. “These kids will realize it later on in life, but this is a once in a lifetime deal for many of these kids. For the University of Wyoming to open their house up to us is pretty cool. It’s much appreciated. It’s pretty chilling.”

The end result was a 60-35 loss in the battle of the Coaches and Media No. 1 and No. 3 ranked teams.

“Those two games – that’s not us. I don’t know what that was,” Leithead said. “I’m not a blame guy but having three actual practices in two weeks is pretty tough to keep a team jelled together and playing like we were going into this blizzard nonsense.”

Southeast spotted Saratoga a 6-0 lead before Larkin got the Cyclones on the scoreboard midway through the first quarter.

By the end of the first quarter, the Panthers’ lead was 15-4.

It was a lead which continued to grow throughout the remainder of the game.

“We are out of shape,” Leithead said. “That’s a big part of who we are. We don’t have a real deep bench, so we have to be better conditioned than the team we are playing. We haven’t been the last two games.”

Saratoga led 31-14 at half, and the third quarter started much like how the game started – with the Panthers scoring the first five points, pushing the lead to 22 at 36-14.

By the end of the quarter, Southeast cut the Saratoga lead to 18 at 47-29, but over the course of the final eight minutes, the Panthers outscored the Cyclones 13-6 to pull away for the 25-point victory.

Larkin led the Cyclones with a double-double. He tallied 12 points and 11 rebounds.

“The last two his rebounding has improved. He’s really getting after it the last two games,” Leithead said. “He’s really stepped up, and we’ve asked that of him. It’s something we needed from him.”

Short added nine points and five rebounds. Sophomore Ayden Desmond had six points.

Southeast returns to SEWAC play this weekend when they host Pine Bluffs on Friday at 7 p.m. and travel to Lusk to face Niobrara County at 4 p.m. on Saturday.

“Our motto is the next game is the important game. We’ll let this hurt for a little bit and move on and get ready for Pine,” Leithead said. “We’ll try to play our game instead of letting the other team dictate what they are going to do.”