Wednesday, February 2, 2005

Buhl holds off WR boys 62-56

Hailey closes gap with 3-balls

Express Staff Writer

Buhl Tribe players had history and rebounding on their side Saturday during a non-conference boys' basketball battle against the Wood River Wolverines at Buhl Middle School gym.

It's no wonder that Buhl, with its 33-23 rebounding edge and dominance on the offensive glass, pulled away in the second half and held off a determined Wood River comeback for a 62-56 non-conference win.

Wood River was fortunate to be where it was, considering the long odds last weekend. "Buhl had to play its best game to beat us," said Wolverine coach Fred Trenkle.

First of all, history was hanging from the rafters during pre-game ceremonies honoring the 1975 and 1979 Buhl state championship teams. They trotted out Tribe legends like Smutny, Hamilton, Juker and Rienstra to mid court.

The current Buhl varsity team, young and talented, greeted them.

There was a sense of finality in the air. It was probably the final time that Wood River will visit the ancient middle school gym for a ball game, since Buhl is completing a new high school with its brand-new gym.

Lingering underneath everything was a sense that maybe it's Buhl's year. That's saying something for a Tribe program that was 2-20 three years ago.

It's been 26 years since Buhl last made it to the state boys' basketball tournament, back in 1979, but the Tribe has a fighting chance this year with a very, very young team built around 6-2 sophomore prodigy Will Chivers. They make mistakes, but they're good.

Chivers was unstoppable on the boards against Wood River, helped by officiating that appeared to favor Buhl. The Tribe took 25 free throws, compared to just 6 for Hailey.

Trenkle said, "Chivers is a real solid player and has gotten better as the season has gone on."

Chivers pulled down a game-high 13 rebounds, many on the offensive boards. He didn't shoot as well, chiefly due to tough defense played by shorter senior defenders Reno Christino and Craig Werley.

But Buhl, which got 28 points from Chivers in Friday's 69-53 home league win over Kimberly, didn't need Chivers as much because senior Perry Hamilton and junior Judd Spencer (12 boards) tallied 18 points apiece for the winners.

Spencer, who had 20 in Buhl's 58-47 win at Hailey Dec. 14, simply couldn't miss. He scored 12 in the first half alone Saturday night. And Hamilton killed Wood River late with quick transition baskets.

Give credit to Trenkle's Wolverines. They never quit for 32 tough minutes and made Buhl play their game.

Trenkle said, "We're playing about as hard as we can—just not as smart as we can. We've been out-manned every game we've played from start to finish, but we've come a million miles. And offensively we're feeling more comfortable."

Trailing 27-21 at half-time and 53-43 midway through the fourth, Wood River got back into the game via the 3-pointer. The Wolverines made a season-high eight 3-pointers—three by Brady Femling, and two apiece by Morgan Uhrig and Werley.

Werley, a 6-0 senior making his first start, had his best game of the year. Trenkle said, "Craig started the season as 10th man. Now he's fifth or sixth. I thought he did a nice job. He's kind of physical. He brings energy and mixes it up."

Not only did Werley (2.1 ppg) score a season-high 10 points with 4 rebounds, he sparked the Hailey squad with some fearless plays and a shoving match with Chivers after a tough rebound underneath.

Taking a cue, Hailey rallied.

Uhrig (12 points, 2 assists) drove the baseline for a bucket. Uhrig (7.0 ppg) followed with a 3-pointer and Femling drilled his own 3-ball. With two minutes left, Reno Christino (6 points, 6.9 ppg, 6 boards) put back a 3-point missed shot trimming Buhl's lead to 55-51.

A Christino steal and pass to Werley on the fast break ended up with Werley hitting the brick wall on a hard Chivers foul. Werley calmly sank both free throws for a 57-53 game. That's as close as Wood River got, though, as Buhl (15-for-25 from the line) made its free throws down the homestretch.

The 56 points represented a season-best for Wood River (40.8 ppg). And it was only the third time all season that the Wolverines put three players in double figures.

Femling (11.2 ppg) finished with 15 points and 4 assists. Corbin Miniard added 6 points and 2 boards, Casey Lane 4 points and 4 rebounds, Dylan Fullmer 3 points and 3 assists.

Trenkle used all 11 of his players, and all of them played hard. He started Werley instead of ballhandler Uhrig, trying to give his primary guards Femling and Uhrig more of a breather in tough games.

"Morgan and Brady had been getting so tired that they'd start making mental mistakes at the end of the games. I decided to start one and rest the other," said Trenkle.

The outcome gave Buhl a 6-point and 11-point season sweep of the Wolverines in 2005 after the Tribe suffered through a 10-point and 28-point sweep at Hailey's hands in 2004.

Buhl (7-7, 5-1 Sawtooth Central Idaho Conference) has beaten Kimberly and Filer twice this season, and will be looking for a deadlock atop the SCIC race when Declo (8-7, 5-1) visits Buhl Feb. 10. Defending SCIC king Declo nipped Buhl 64-58 Jan. 22.

The Tribe hasn't won a district championship since beating Trenkle's Wolverines 43-36 back in 1980—Trenkle's final season during his first stint at Wood River. But South Fremont kept defending champion Buhl away from state that year with a 55-54 playoff win.

Wood River (0-9 away from home) finishes up on the road in Idaho Falls against Skyline tonight, Wednesday.

"Skyline might be the quickest team we've played. But we're controlling the ball well enough to have a shot," said Trenkle. The Grizzlies beat Wood River 56-43 back on Dec. 16 on the Hailey floor.

Then the Wolverines (2-14, 0-5 league) have their final three regular-season games at the Hailey gym.

Wood River entertains league foe Burley Friday, Feb. 4, then Hillcrest visits Feb. 9 and Blackfoot arrives in Hailey for "Senior Night," on Thursday, Feb. 10. The league tournament opens Tuesday, Feb. 15.

Burley (8-7, 2-2 league) will come to Hailey Friday on a two-game losing streak, having dropped close games to Minico and American Falls. Host Burley beat Hailey 46-35 Jan. 13.

The other two league teams, Jerome (10-7, 4-0 league) and Minico (7-9, 3-2) will play a big game Friday, Feb. 4. Minico is looking for homecourt advantage in the first round of the Great Basin Conference West tournament. And Jerome has won five of its last six games, including Saturday's 60-55 overtime victory at Declo.

Jerome and Wood River are likely to face off in the first round of the tournament, Jerome hosting.

OT for Hailey JV

Wood River JV coach John Radford said his squad has improved by leaps and bounds this season, and the improvement was on center stage during Saturday's thrilling overtime game on the Buhl Indian floor.

Trailing 34-29 at the end of three quarters, Wood River rallied to tie the game 47-47 after regulation time—6-4 freshman Eric Jacobson scoring 8 of his 14 points in the fourth quarter. But Buhl prevailed 52-51 with a last-second free throw at the end of OT.

Cory Rutkowski, a 6-1 sophomore, tallied 11 of his 14 points in the second half for Wood River. Danny Sibrian added 6 points, Sigi Parades 5, Micah Floyd 5, David Pinkard 4, Josh Van Dyke 2 and Travis Beckman 1.

Wood River (3-13) has beaten Filer twice and Buhl once, Parades leading the team in scoring in the three wins. But, in the last 11 games, the Wolverine JV has frequently gone down to the wire. They are 2-9 and have lost six of those games by a total of 22 points.

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