Sundance Times - Continuing the Crook County News Since 1884

Bulldogs take second at State


March 12, 2020

The Sundance boys’ basketball team took their show on the road the past weekend as they made their way to Casper for the 2A state tournament. Going into the tournament as the #4 seed, the Bulldogs had confidence in their ability to take on all comers, including the #1 seed from the west, Rocky Mountain, whom they would face in their first game of the tournament. In their first appearance since 2012, the Sundance Bulldogs did not disappoint.

The first matchup of the tournament would prove to be the easiest for the Bulldogs. Jumping out to a 13-9 lead, Sundance kept their cool behind the scoring of Kye Taylor and Lane Gill, who led the team with 16 and 13 points respectively. While Rocky Mountain chipped away at Sundance’s lead throughout the second and third quarters head coach Nick Olson believes they executed their game plan perfectly.

“The key to the boys’ play is simple: play with no fear, don’t fear anybody on the court and we did just that on Thursday,” Olson says.

Coach Olson also would like to credit the amazing fan base as the sixth man on the floor. He sees their enthusiasm and cheers as another factor in their 57-46 victory.

A win on Thursday moved the Sundance Bulldogs into their first semi-final round since 2008. Going up against a familiar foe in the Southeast Cyclones, this game was the one to see.

The Bulldogs did not jump out to their familiar lead and gave the fans something to be nervous about as they were down 3-14 at the end of the first quarter.

“The boys played with tons of heart and fire,” Coach Olson says.

That heart and fire brought them back within two points, 24-26, as the buzzer rang to signal the end of the third quarter. The fourth quarter was all about the defense.

The Bulldogs continued to switch up their defensive attack in hopes of confusing the Southeast players. Their game plan worked. Sundance took a narrow 29-28 lead late in the fourth quarter only to have the Cyclones sneak back in it as the buzzer rang to signal the end of regulation and the score tied at 31 apiece.

The first overtime was full of excitement while Bulldogs and Cyclones traded basket for basket. At the end of four minutes, each team had scored nine more points and they were headed to a double overtime.

Going into the overtime quarters, Coach Olson had confidence that his guys wanted it more, they continued their defensive onslaught and the Bulldogs were able to sneak out of the semi-final game with a 46-44 double overtime victory and a chance to play on the big stage for a state championship.

After two intense games, the Bulldogs were back in action for the championship game on Saturday night against the defending state champions, Wyoming Indian Chiefs. It was a very physical game for the Bulldogs and they played their hearts out yet again.

Sundance started with the early lead; however, the Chiefs did not make it easy for the Bulldogs, staying close after eight minutes of play, with the score 12-10. The second quarter saw the lead change as the Chiefs took the narrow 20-18 lead into the half. The fans on both sides were on the edge of their seats as the second half of play began.

The Chiefs came out firing and were able to build a seven-point lead with the score 27-20. The Bulldogs quickly responded and the lead was never that large again.

Landon Martin scored all 12 points for the Bulldogs that quarter, knotting the score at 30 with eight minutes remaining. After a brief run by the Chiefs, the game resumed its back and forth nature with neither team taking more than a three-point lead throughout the fourth.

In what proved to be the highest scoring quarter of the game, fueled by free throws, the fourth quarter came down to the wire. Down by two, with 13.6 seconds remaining, Gunner McLaughlin calmly stepped to the line and sank two free throws for the Bulldogs to tie the game.

Each team had a chance in the final seconds of the game but neither were able to capitalize and the Bulldogs were headed to another overtime.

The overtime period proved to be just as intense as the rest of the game. As the minutes ticked away, it appeared as though Sundance might be headed into a second double overtime. Trailing by one point with 40 seconds remaining the Bulldogs was unable to capitalize.

An offensive foul ended their possession and they were forced to foul the Chiefs in order to regain possession of the ball. The Chiefs capitalized on free throws down the stretch to extend their lead and take the 54-49 victory and a repeat state championship.

Coach Olson is proud of his team’s performance in the state tournament: “It was a game everybody in the state wants to be in and the boys stepped up on the biggest stage in 2A basketball and competed with a very talented Wyoming Indian team. The boys represented their school and community at the highest level. The crowds again were awesome and the support from everybody back home helped a ton.”

The Bulldogs finished their season as the 2A state runner ups with a 22-6 record.

Stats from the games:

SHS vs. Rocky Mountain 57-46

Scoring: Taylor 16 (2/7 3 pt.), Gill 13 (2/3 FT, 1/4 3 pt.), McLaughlin 8 (6/11 FT), Martin 8 (4/6FT, 0/3 3 pt.), Kruger 6 (3/4 FT, 1/3 3 pt.), Gillespie 4 (2/2 FT), Chandler 2 (0/2 FT)

Stat Leaders:

Rebounds: Gillespie 7, McLaughlin 6, Chandler 5

Assists: Martin 4

Steals: Gill 2, Kruger 2

SHS vs. Southeast 46-44

Scoring: McLaughlin 18 (1/1 FT, 1/2 3 pt.), Gill 9 (7/12 FT, 0/2 3 pt.), Taylor 8 (2/3 FT, 2/5 3 pt.), Martin 6 (2/2 FT, 0/1 3 pt.), Kruger 3 (1/2 FT), Chandler 2 (0/2FT)

Stat leaders:

Rebounds: McLaughlin 10, Gill 7

Steals: Taylor 3

SHS vs. Wyoming Indian 49-54

Scoring: Martin 16 (2/3 FT, 2/4 3 pt.), Chandler 8, Gill 8 (4/6 FT), Kruger 6 (3/3 FT, 1/2 3 pt.), McLaughlin 6 (4/6 FT), Taylor 5 (0/2 FT, 1/9 3 pt.)

Stat leaders:

Rebounds: Chandler 9, Martin 6, Gill 6

Assists: Taylor 3

Steals: McLaughlin 2


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