Who was that team in the Broncs uniforms Friday night?
The Jackson Broncs did everything right in their road victory over the Lander Tigers including playing a full 32 minutes—something the team has struggled with in the past.
Jackson traded blows with Lander Valley through the opening quarter, finally pulling away for a comfortable 60-38 win and stopping a 16-game skid that dated back nearly a calendar year.
But this game wasn’t about exorcising ghosts or dwelling on the past. To a player, this team appeared determined to take the first step toward who they want to be moving forward. It was written on every player’s face every time the team huddled during timeouts.
“I think we turned a corner sometime over the holiday break in practice. We’ve had this vibe the past week and a half,” coach Hayden Hatfield said. “It carried into the game. The pregame energy level was great. I think we’ve finally bought into being a team together.”
And teamwork was never more evident than in the defense Jackson put on the floor. The Broncs held the Tigers (a team averaging 50 points a game) to just 38 points. Jackson took away the inside with their bigs and challenged every shot from distance.
“The defense was excellent,” Hatfield agreed. “We’ve been working on a scramble defense—whose responsibility it is to pick up the ball if a teammate it caught off the dribble. Isaac [Hayden] and Seb [Brunner] did a great job with that. Overall, we were great, holding a team that averages 50 to just 38.
The Tigers were without one of their leading scorers in junior forward Brenon Stauffenberg, who was out sick. Still, the Broncs held the explosive senior guard Tisso Guina in check for most of the game.
Offensively, the Broncs looked much more patient, much more comfortable waiting for something to open up rather than just heaving out of panic. The game plan was obviously to get the ball to Andrew Hanna inside to take advantage of his 6’7” frame…and Lander Valley had no answer for the big man, who poured in 24 points, all from the paint.
When Hanna wasn’t there, scoring was shared fairly evenly between Isaac Hayden, Seb Brunner, and Carson Harland.
The Broncs did a good job taking care of the basketball against a team that feasts on points off turnovers. The passing was crisp, even during the game’s final 6 minutes or so when it was obvious Jackson was in no hurry to shoot as they iced away the 22-point victory.
The Jackson boys improve to 1-3 on the season. They come home to host Pinedale Friday (7:30pm) and Lander Valley Saturday (3:30pm).