Herders crush Cougars

Boys’ basketball contains Columbus in 77-35 drubbing

There are certainly worse ways to start a season, but the Sweet Grass County boys’ basketball team wasn’t interested in exploring any other outcome other than a win.

The Herders (1-0) kicked off their 2017-18 campaign with a 77-35 rout of rival Columbus on Dec. 2 at home. Junior Kell Schwers finished with a team-high 20 points, 12 of which came on four 3-pointers in the 42-point win. Hayden Mosness nearly had a double-double with nine points and 11 rebounds in his first game as a Herder as well. 

One of the most exciting elements to this year’s Herder team is its ability to still find points and talent deep into the bench. Before the season started, head coach Dan Smart said he could have nearly eight different players starting every night, without thinking twice. Nine different players saw playing time during the win. 

“We had some stupid fouls, not working around or trying to get a rebound we know we can’t get, those are the things we need to work on,” Smart said. “But Columbus is Columbus. They always play hard. Yeah, they’re down a little bit, but it was a good first game for us.”

It took a little bit — only about the first half — for the Herders to shake off the dust from the high tops and jerseys and really start flowing on offense. With just a four-point lead after the first quarter, the Herders managed to create points off turnovers (29 for Columbus, 21 for Big Timber). 

PHOTOS: Boys' basketball dispatches rivial Cougars 77-35

Casey Gunlikson, who finished with 13 points, found a handful of breakaway layups in the first and second halves, and Schwers got it done in similar fashion, from all over the court. 

Mosness was far more aggressive in the second half, as the lane opened up for him. Of his nine points, five of them came in the second half. 

Keegan Durfee finished with 12 points, all in the second half, as he converted a rare four-point play off a fouled and made 3-pointer. He was 3-for-4 from the charity stripe. 

It’s all familiar success for a lot of the players on this year’s team. After a 3-2 start to last year’s season, the Herders fell off the winning edge and failed to close out close games, resulting in a season without a postseason appearance. And while it’s the same start — a win against a rival — these Herders are seeking a different ending. 

For more of this story, pick up a copy of this week’s Big Timber Pioneer on newsstands now, or subscribe online at bigtimberpioneer.net.

PHOTO CAPTION: Kell Schwers (24) takes a contested layup against Columbus’s Kenneth Smith (2) during the first half of Dec. 2’s game against the Cougars. Schwers had a team-high 20 points on four made 3-pointers in the Herders’ 77-35 win. (STEPHEN KALB-KOENIGSFELD / Big Timber Pioneer)




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