Herders capture key win over Wind River; shift focus to Lusk, Pine Bluffs

Eddie Poe photo
Jaren Fritz drives through the Wind River defense for a score during Glenrock’s 62-52 win over the Cougars last Saturday at Glenrock Junior/Senior High School. The Herders have won six of their last seven games as they head down the final stretch of the regular season. 

By Eddie Poe eddie@glenrockind.com

The Glenrock Herders will happily admit it – they’re enjoying themselves on the basketball court this season. The countless hours of time and commitment put in at practices and games over the past three seasons are, at last, paying dividends.
“It’s been a blast,” head coach Shawn Huxtable said. “This group is a bunch of great kids that have been working their tails off for three years to have the success that they’re having this year. They’re a group that comes together every day and works hard. We have fun together when we do our team activities. It’s been a really fun year.”
It’s been a tale of three quarters for Huxtable and company this season. The opening quarter of the season saw the Herders win their first eight games, including important wins over Rocky Mountain and Big Horn. Glenrock’s 8-0 start was its best since the 2014-2015 season when it finished second at the state tournament.
Those eight wins were then followed up by three straight losses, each on the road. At the time, the Herders admittedly took a step back. They fell back to earth but in the process, took a close look at themselves and re-evaluated who they were and where they wanted to be.
Since then, the Herders have won six of their last seven games and are gaining momentum as they head toward the final quarter of the season.
“I think if we would’ve looked at our record to this point early on, we would’ve said we’re really happy with that,” senior Jaren Fritz said. “Along the way we’ve had some losses that we figured we could’ve won. We’ve been really good this season but the losses have definitely taught us some things and it’ll help us win more games down the road.”
As Fritz stated, those losses have in fact helped the Herders. An example of that came last weekend during the East/West Quad hosted on their home court. Glenrock picked up a crucial win over one of the best programs in the state – Wind River. But not before they handled Shoshoni.
In their first game of the day on Saturday, Fritz went unconscious with 28 points, including four made three’s in a dominant 69-35 win over the struggling Wranglers. Tucker Bopp added 10 points, Kale Kuhlman netted 8 and Archer Young contributed 7.
Later in the day, Glenrock and Wind River took the court. The Cougars have won the state championship two of the last four years and during the other two years, finished runner-up. They know a bit about winning big games. But that didn’t faze Huxtable and his upstart team.
The Herders jumped out to an early lead in the first quarter, took a 7-point lead into halftime and never looked back. They added another quality win to their resume, topping Wind River 62-52.
“It gives us confidence,” Huxtable said about the win. “It lets us know that we can play with one of the best programs in the state and it puts us where we feel like we are – one of the best 6-7 teams in the state. It gives us confidence heading into regional and state knowing that we can compete with anyone there.”
Bopp led all scorers with 19 points in the 10-point win to go along with 12 points by Kuhlman. Fritz added 9 and Casey Sebesta scored 7 points of his own off the bench.
The win not only helped with Glenrock’s confidence as the final stretch of the season looms, but it also reminded them of what they can accomplish when they all come together.
“It’s a testament of how much our team will work,” Fritz said. “I didn’t have the best game but everyone else stepped up and we banded together. It was a really good team win, especially against a team of that caliber and a program like that.”
Glenrock now turns its attention to the second half of its quadrant schedule. That includes a visit to Lusk Friday night, followed by a trip to Pine Bluffs on Saturday for another huge matchup with the top-ranked Hornets.
The Herders will have their hands full with the top scoring team in 2A, but it will also be a valuable opportunity to put it all together while the stakes are raised.
“I still don’t think we’ve played our best game,” Huxtable noted. “I’m looking forward to hopefully doing that in the coming weeks. You don’t want to be peaking at the beginning of February anyways, you want to be peaking at the end of February and the beginning of March, and that’s our goal. We’re heading in that direction.”
Playing without the conference’s leading-scorer Tucker Norman during the two teams’ first meeting last month, the Hornets made some clutch free throws down the stretch and escaped Glenrock with a four-point win.
This time around, with Norman expected to be back from injury, the game plan won’t change all that much for the Herders.
“He’s a chore inside, he’s a great ballplayer,” Huxtable said of Norman. “He’s fundamental, strong . . . so we’re going to have to be ready. Ultimately our game plan won’t change too much. We’re going to go up-tempo, pressure the ball, get after them and see if we can replicate what we did up here.”
The opening tip from Lusk on Friday is set for 7:30 p.m., while Saturday’s matchup is slated for a 5:30 p.m. start time.
“We just have to execute our style of basketball,” Fritz said. “If we can do that I think we can come out with the win.”


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