Glenrock outpaces #5 Big Horn, sweeps tourney at Herder Classic

Mike Moore photos
Jaren Fritz puts up a shot between two defenders during a game against Thermopolis Dec. 8 during the Herder Classic at Glenrock High School. The Herders went 4-0 to sweep the tournament with wins over Greybull, Rocky Mountain, Thermopolis and Big Horn. 

Eddie Poe

The Glenrock Herders basketball team doesn’t have many secrets.
The moment the whistle is blown and the opening tip is thrown high into the air, you know what to expect. Athleticism. Crafty offensive play. A hardwood track meet. The purple push the envelope, and often in the process, exhaust their opponents.
At last weekend’s Herder Classic at Glenrock High School, the Herders put constant pressure on the opposition with every possession. They ended up claiming four wins - the final one a 47-41 win over fifth-ranked Big Horn - to cap off a clean start to the season.
“We all kind’ve had that in our sights - to go 4-0,” head coach Shawn Huxtable said. “We had some really good competition and battled through some adversity, but as a group we kept our composure and made the plays we needed to in order to come out with victories.
“It was a good start to the season for us.”
In their tournament opener on Friday, Glenrock faced a Greybull team that beat them twice in three meetings last season. Similar to last year’s season opener, the Herders’ lone victory against the Buffaloes, they jumped out fast and never looked back. They won in a rout, 63-43.
Tucker Bopp led all scorers with 15 points. Kale Kuhlman netted 13 points and Jaren Fritz added 11 in his first game as a member of the Herders since moving from Tongue River.
“It’s a new environment, a new vibe, but I’m really enjoying it,” Fritz said about his time in Glenrock thus far. “I’m having the time of my life this year.”
In Friday’s night cap, the Herders faced a tall order in the Rocky Mountain Grizzlies. The Grizzlies went 23-4 last season and finished third at the state tournament, but the noise didn’t bother Glenrock.
Kuhlman outplayed the Grizzlies in the paint and along with Bopp, finished with 12 points. Fritz and Payton Steinmetz added 11 and 10, respectively.
If Friday night’s win over Rocky Mountain served as Glenrock’s first true test of the season, Saturday was a harsh follow-up. In a back and forth defensive battle with Thermopolis, the Herders couldn’t find a way to put away the Hornets and held just a five-point lead to start the fourth quarter. In the end, Kuhlman and Bopp proved to be too much for Duder Harvey and the Hornets, holding on to win 46-42.
One moment in particular from the win stuck out to Huxtable.
“I think back to that game . . . we could’ve really used a timeout late in the game but didn’t have any and (they) had to learn on the court,” Huxtable recalled about his team. “You’re able to see their maturity and development in the way that they handled some tough situations.”
In the final game of the weekend, Glenrock faced fifth-ranked Big Horn. The Rams beat the Herders in two close games last season, including a 41-39 win, and like the Herders, returned a handful of seniors this season.
For Huxtable, the solution to beating the Rams was simple: Stick to the game plan.
“We know Big Horn is a good team and likes to get out and run and makes extremely good passes when they do,” he said. “We had to make sure we were containing them to just one shot and getting out into transition. When we’re able to get rebounds and get out, that’s when we’re at our best.”
Glenrock did just that and in the second half pulled away for a 47-41 win. Huxtable praised his team’s ability to dominate the defensive glass, something they struggled with against the Rams last season.
On the football field, the Herders like to ground and pound. On the court, you’ll find the same thing - but in basketball form.
“I remember the score of the game was really high at halftime,” Fritz recalled about facing Glenrock last season as a member of the Eagles. “I remember saying, ‘Wow I’m exhausted.’ They were really fast and moved the ball well in transition. It was a lot different than any other team we played.”
It’s not a secret, but it’s Glenrock’s most lethal weapon. And through the first week of play, four teams have already fallen victim.
The Herders return to the court Friday and Saturday at the Lusk Jamboree. They’ll face Sioux County, Nebraska, Cheyenne South JV and Thunder Basin JV. According to Huxtable, it’ll be another welcomed test for the Herders.
“Those will be good teams with good athletes on them,” he said. “And they’ll most likely have size that we’re not used to so it’ll be a good test for us.”


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