YODER – The Southeast High School boys’ basketball team opened the season, splitting games against Wheatland and Saratoga as part of annual Burns Winter Classic.
On Friday, the Class 1A No. 3-ranked Cyclones edged the Class 3A No. 5-ranked Wheatland Bulldogs 45-42 in Yoder.
The first 11 minutes of the contest was back-and-forth before Wheatland strung together six straight points before halftime to take a 26-19 lead into the break.
The Cyclones scored the first four points of the third quarter to cut the deficit to three, but the offense went cold for the remainder of the quarter.
“It was back-and-forth. We had a little lull in the third quarter, and Hayden Anderson started going to the hole” coach Crockett Herring said. “We hit our spark and kept chipping away.”
Over the final six minutes of the third, Southeast went 2-for-4 at the free-throw line. Those proved to be the only other points the Cyclones got in the frame.
Meanwhile, the visiting Bulldogs managed to extend their lead to 32-25 heading to the final eight minutes of the game.
Southeast responded with an 8-2 run, sparked by a senior Sawyer Anderson 3-pointer just seconds into the fourth quarter.
“It was our first game, and it took us a while to find our legs,” Herring said. “We played a lot better. We started penetrating. Sawyer hit that big three to cut it to seven, and that’s when we went on our run.”
Four minutes later, senior Hayden Anderson went 4-for-4 at the charity stripe to tie the game at 38 with 3:32 remaining.
A minute later, Wheatland briefly regained the lead, but senior Harrison Hall bucket tied the game at 40. On the ensuing possession, Hayden Anderson converted on an old-fashioned 3-point play to give the Cyclones a 43-42 advantage.
It was the first lead for Southeast since early in the second quarter, and it proved to be the last lead change of the game.
Wheatland’s 3-pointer at the buzzer to force overtime hit nothing but air.
“I’m proud of our kids. A lot of attitude and effort. We had a great attitude, and they gave a great effort,” Herring said. “Anytime you beat a team that good, you should feel good about yourself. The thing is, we’ll probably play as good or better team tomorrow. We have a very tough schedule. We don’t have any lollipops, but that’s how we are going to get better.”
Hayden Anderson led Southeast with 13 points, while senior Bodie Herring added 11 points and 12 rebounds. Sawyer Anderson tossed in nine points.
The next day, the Cyclones traveled to Lingle to face the No. 1-ranked and defending Class 1A state champion Saratoga Panthers.
The Panthers pulled away in the fourth quarter for a 51-36 victory, handing Southeast its first loss of the season.
“They have basically the whole team back from last year,” Herring said. “(Teegan) Love is unguardable. They have (Noah) Rimmer in the paint.”
Herring knew his team would have to play well or there was a change they could be “embarrassed.”
Through the first three quarters, Southeast kept pace with Saratoga.
Heading to final quarter, the teams were tied at 32.
Over the final eight minutes, the Panthers outscored Southeast 19-4 to pull away for the win.
Sawyer Anderson, Hayden Anderson and junior Cord Herring had 10 points each for Southeast, while Herring also grabbed a team-high eight rebounds.
The Cyclones (1-1) will take part in the Dogger Classic on Friday. Southeast will host Kaycee at 11:30 a.m. and Encampment at 4 p.m. in Yoder.