CHEYENNE – A poor start and a lack of composure dug Cheyenne Central a hole it never was able to climb out of Saturday.
The Indians missed on their first four attempts from beyond the arc, while Alliance, Nebraska, raced out to a three-possession lead en route to a 67-53 win at the Central Fieldhouse.
“We were a little flat,” Central coach Tagg Lain said. “We definitely are used to people being really physical in the post with us. But (Alliance) did as good a job with that as we’ve seen in terms of (being) prepared to stop our ability to even get down into position to post.”
Indeed, the Indians (6-3) were boxed out from penetrating the paint during the first quarter, being forced instead to shoot from the perimeter. They didn’t have much luck there.
Meanwhile, the Bulldogs were crisp from 3-point land. Mason Hiemstra sank a pair of treys to help the Bulldogs build a 12-2 lead with just under 2 minutes to play in the first quarter. In fact, Central didn’t get on the scoreboard until sophomore post Lawson Lovering banked in a shot with 2 minutes, 7 seconds remaining in the frame.
Alliance hit four 3s in the opening 8 minutes and held a comfortable 18-7 advantage.
“We didn’t execute the way we want to start a game and then after that, we really lost our poise in the second quarter and it put us so far behind that we really struggled to ever recover,” Lain said.
With just over a minute left in the first quarter, Lovering was whistled for a technical foul near the offensive basket. The 6-foot-11 standout said he was being fouled hard the play before and let his emotions get the best of him.
“The play before I was getting hit pretty hard and I just got mad and lost my composure,” said Lovering, who said it was the first technical foul he has ever received. “I came down and blocked the dude. I stood over him because I was just … I was mad, and I should’ve kept my poise in that situation.”
With two fouls, Lovering took a seat on the bench.
That’s when the game was arguably lost.
Hiemstra swiped the ball away from a Central player and went end to end for the finish to cap a 7-2 run and push the Bulldogs ahead 25-9 midway through the second quarter. A 3-pointer by Kaden Kindred gave the visitors a 30-13 cushion with 2:47 left before halftime.
“That was a turning point,” Lain said. “We were already in a bad spot, but that really dug us into a deep hole right there. I thought maybe we could have a chance to get back on a little bit of a run because we had settled into going inside a little bit.
“We have to learn from that. We’re a young team and we have to learn how to keep our poise and play through rough play and continue to just stay within ourselves.”
Central senior Blaine Lyman cut the deficit to 12 points after he came up with a steal, drove the floor and drew a foul. He completed the three-point play to make it a 30-19 game. Lovering pulled the Indians within nine points at 30-21.
The Indians unraveled even more as time expired in the first half.
As both teams began parting toward their respective locker rooms, Lyman was called for a technical foul for saying something in the direction of one of the referees.
“I was talking to my teammate and (the ref) thought I was saying something to him. I guess he gave me a technical,” said Lyman, who scored 11 points before fouling out late in the fourth quarter.
“We were all just heated with a couple of the calls. I didn’t really think anybody said anything, but the ref felt like we did. We ended up getting a technical. I’ll take responsibility for that.”
Central trailed 33-21 at the break, but finally found its rhythm in the third quarter.
Senior Tanner Weinberger threw up a pass toward Lovering near the rim, and Lovering got the basket to fall to cut the margin to 33-27. Shortly after, a Dawson Macleary 3-pointer pulled the Indians within six points again.
But that was as close as Central got.
Lovering paced the Indians with 12 points, while Lyman and Brady Storebo added 11. Thomas Burke added 10.
ALLIANCE 67, CENTRAL 53
Alliance…...........…….....................…. 18 15 14 20 – 67
Cheyenne Central…….....................… 7 14 15 17 – 53
Alliance: DuBray 13, Stark 3, Baker 10, Kindred 8, Jensen 8, Farritor 0, Palmer 2, Hiemstra 23, Schrawyer 0.
Cheyenne Central: Macleary 3, Lyman 11, Stampfli 0, Lobatos 0, Burke 10, Talich 2, Bra. Storebo11, Bro. Storebo 4, Weinberger 0, Cates 0, Lovering 12, LeBeaumont 0.