CHEYENNE – Chance Aumiller stopped shooting 3-pointers when shots from behind the arc weren’t falling last season.
He made 4 of 21 shots (19%) from deep during his junior campaign.
Instead of forcing shots from outside, the Cheyenne East senior focused on shooting mid-range jumpers and driving to the basket. Those are shots Thunderbirds coach Rusty Horsley describes as genuine strengths for Aumiller.
Things have changed through 11 games this season. Aumiller is still attacking the rim and pulling up from mid-range, but he also has become a threat from deep.
He entered last weekend’s Taco John’s Invitational shooting 40% (6 for 15) from behind the 3-point line.
“He is shooting the 3 a lot better than he was last season, and that’s the biggest evolution of his game,” Horsley said. “He is helping us in a lot of different ways.”
Aumiller averaged 16.5 points across four games at the Taco John’s Invite to help the T-Birds go 4-0 in the tournament. Those efforts earned him Prep Athlete of the Week honors from WyoSports’ Cheyenne staff.
East graduated Gatorade player of the year Erik Oliver and his 19.7 points per game. Replacing that output is being done by committee, and Aumiller knew he had to become multidimensional if he was going to carry his weight as a scorer.
“We don’t necessarily have one guy who is going to score 20 or 25 points per game, so we all have to do our part,” Aumiller said. “It just came down to getting in the gym a lot and getting better at shooting the 3.
“I had to get more comfortable and confident in taking that shot, so that’s what I tried to do.”
Aumiller is averaging 14.5 points per game this season after netting 7.4 per contest as a junior.
He is meeting Horsley’s expectations.
“We knew he could do what he has offensively, and we thought he could be a double-figure scorer this year,” the coach said. “The only problem was that he is a little too unselfish. Sometimes you just have to take a shot.
“But we’re pretty fortunate, because he doesn’t care what he scores. All he cares about is if our team wins.”
Outside shooting isn’t the only area of Aumiller’s game that has improved. Already a strong defensive player, Aumiller ranks fifth in Class 4A at 3.1 steals per game.
The skills that made him one of the state’s most feared defensive backs on the football field translate to the hardwood.
“When you’re in a press and have to bait the other team into throwing the ball deep, it’s just like baiting a quarterback into throwing a ball he shouldn’t,” Aumiller said. “If you can make that steal, or deflect a pass to a teammate for a steal, you can get going the other way and turn defense into offense.”
Others recognized for their efforts include:
Ben Banville and Boe Clayson, wrestling, Burns-Pine Bluffs: The seniors won the 195- and 170-pound divisions, respectively, at the Shane Shatto Invitational in Douglas.
Cameron Bird, boys basketball, Cheyenne South: The senior guard averaged 23.3 points to help the Bison go 2-1 at the Taco John’s Invitational.
Ky Buell, girls basketball, Cheyenne East: The senior guard averaged 24.3 points to help the Lady Thunderbirds go 3-0 at the Taco John’s Invitational.
Michael Shain, boys basketball, Pine Bluffs: The senior averaged 17.7 points to help the Hornets go 2-1 at the Taco John’s Invitational.
Amos Solano, Jackson Hesford and Bradley Whitright, wrestling, Cheyenne East: All three took second at the Arvada West Invitational to help the Thunderbirds take second as a team.
All three won at Northglenn – Whitright (182 pounds) and Solano (126) by pin, and Hesford (160) by decision.
Nathanial Talich, boys basketball, Cheyenne Central: The sophomore guard averaged 17 points to help the Indians go 3-0 at the Taco John’s Invitational.