Boys step up in the final weeks to fight for No. 2 seed

Phillip Harnden photo

Tucker Bopp takes the ball to the hoop for two of the 18 points he earned against Pine Bluffs Saturday.

By Phillip Harnden

The final push begins as the basketball season moves into its final weeks. The boys are sitting in the No. 3 spot but are looking to earn the No. 2 seed by regionals.
The boys’ season has been a roller coaster of wins and losses with only a few final scores being close. The Herd either wins big or loses big.
They beat Burns on the road by doubling their score 48-24. Later, they came home to have Pine Bluffs double the Herd’s score in a 94-41 loss.
The top scorer for both games was Tucker Bopp who dropped 25 points against Burns and 18 points against Pine Bluffs.
During an interview Monday, he shared some thoughts about the season.
“It started off not how we wanted,” he said. “But then we pushed harder during practice and picked it up to get where we want. It’s starting to click a bit now.”
Additionally, Bopp said the team’s communication is improving.
One thing the team has for them is their speed. They can move the ball up and down the court at an impressive pace, keeping opponents on their toes.
“We are one of the fastest 2A teams,” Bopp said, with confidence. “They can’t keep up with us up and down the court very well.”
As the season has progressed the boys have honed their skills.
“We’ve had more shooting drills during practice and our shots are coming along,” he added.
Bopp comes from a family of basketball players, he noted.
“My mom went to Casper College and played basketball there and has inspired me to keep playing since I was little,” Bopp said.
He went on to mention his competitive nature to outdo his older brother who played on the Herders a few years ago.
For now he is just concentrating on the final weeks of play before the post-season heats up.
He said the team is looking to “go into regionals in the second seed.”
But with only two conference games left, they will have to stay on their game and avoid injuries to make that No. 2 seed.
The Southeast Cyclones currently hold the No. 2 spot. Southeast beat the Herd in their last encounter 46-30.
The boys will get one more chance against Southeast on Feb. 17, the last game before regionals.
“We definitely have some revenge coming that way,” Bopp said about the upcoming rematch.

Coach’s Notes
“Last week, the Herder boys had a good week. We had a good week of practice and that continued into the games on Friday and Saturday,” coach Shawn Huxtable said Monday.
Friday night the boys traveled to Burns and took on the Broncs in their second round of play against conference opponents. The boys played good defense and forced an up-tempo game against the broncs and emerged with a 48-24 victory.
Saturday night they played the No. 2 Pine Bluffs Hornets and even though it was a loss, they played hard and never quit, Huxtable said.
“We maintained the pace of game we like to play,” he said. “But unfortunately came up on the losing side of the scoreboard. I am very proud of the effort the boys put forth against a team of their caliber. We had a great first quarter but struggled from the field the last three quarters.”
Bopp led the team in scoring both games this weekend (25 pts. vs. Burns, 18 pts. vs. Pine Bluffs) followed by Payton Steinmetz (11 pts. at Burns, 9 pts. vs. Pine Bluffs). Brock Jones led in rebounding at Burns with 10 and Kale Kuhlman led in rebounding vs. Pine Bluffs with 7.

What’s next
“Next Friday, we play Wheatland in Wheatland and that is always a tough place to play,” Huxtable said. “But I feel good about our chances if we continue to play as aggressively as we did this past weekend. On Saturday we play Lingle-Ft. Laramie at home in a conference game. It’s the first time we have played Lingle-Ft. Laramie since I have been here so it will be fun seeing a new opponent.”
The boys will tip off in Wheatland at 7 p.m. Friday.
Saturday they will play Lingle-Ft. Laramie at home at 5:30 p.m.


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