FILER — It’s too bad basketball games have a time limit. Just ask anyone in attendance at Filer High School Thursday night; they all left the gym yearning for more.
Alas, the few moments on the court are fleeting, and, there must always be a winner and loser.
Buhl and Filer put on a show in front of a packed house, a jaw-dropping spectacle and perfect example of what a heated rivalry is supposed to be. The seesaw battle went to the visiting squad this time around as the Indians made a late defensive stand to outlast the Wildcats 46-43.
“Winning here on their home floor is a big deal in our conference,” said Buhl head coach Dan Winn. “I’m very proud of the way we played.”
“This is a great midseason win for us, to get us going in our conference race,” said Buhl senior Jim Elkin. “We have a lot to work on, but Filer played a really good game tonight.”
“We had a few letdowns that hurt us tonight, a few turnovers,” said Filer head coach Allen Kelsey. “I sure like the way the kids played and the fight they had.”
Filer jumped out to the early lead when Chance Koyle took the opening tip straight to the hole for 2. Buhl answered right back with a flurry of jabs, the biggest coming from senior Zyon Cleverly as he buried a 3 to tie things up midway through the opening period.
The Wildcats’ Cooper Moon, a senior guard, went to work from deep in the first half. He found himself wide open on a number of occasions and made the Indians pay. He finished the night with 11 points.
The game was notched at 14-all entering the second quarter.
Buhl did an excellent job on the glass in the first half, holding Filer to one shot per possession. The Indian senior carried the load offensively all night, Cleverly leading the way with a game-high 14 points. Elkin pitched in 12 while Greg Loveless had 9.
“Everybody felt really comfortable with the ball,” Elkin said. “The underclassmen did a great job.”
At the half, the Wildcats clung to a 24-23 lead.
If the game was a boxing match, the judge’s scorecard would have been a dead heat. Neither team was able to pull ahead of the other to the point of feeling comfortable. The tension in the gym was palpable. It seeped into the walls and its energy coated the bleachers as the crowd knew it would come down to the bitter end.
The scored was tied 36-36 at the end of three quarters.
With veteran coaches on both benches, adjustments were made and players instructed often. Filer had a better effort in the rebounding category, especially on the offensive end as many possessions netted multiple looks at the basket. Buhl stuck to Cooper Moon like duct tape, holding him scoreless in the second half.
“We knew coming out that we couldn’t lose him,” Cleverly said. “We lost him a couple of times in the first half and he made us pay. We had to play smart and not let him get open at the 3-point line.”
The Indians built a 6-point lead thanks to a steal and a layup from Cleverly, followed by a 3-ball dagger from Elkin.
After a turnover, Filer’s Nick Meyerhoeffer hit a deep 3 to close the gap with less than a minute to play. Buhl missed a number of free throws to give the Wildcats hope.
But it was all for naught as Filer was unable to get a clean look at the basket, Moon’s final 3-point attempted bouncing off the rim wide right.
“We played some good defense tonight,” Cleverly said. “There were mistakes, but that stand at the end was great. We kept our heads on, went out there and got it done.”
“Filer’s effort in the fourth quarter was amazing and I’m just very proud of the kids for winning tonight,” Winn said. “It was a good team effort.”
Meyerhoeffer led Filer with 13 points while Moon had 11, Marcus Hale 9 and Koyle 5.
Filer (4-9, 0-1 Sawtooth Central Conference) hosts Canyon Ridge tonight and will host district foe Kimberly on Tuesday.
“We’ve got room to improve, but the kids are playing some good ball,” Kelsey said. “This is a good conference. Every game will be a battle.”
Buhl (8-5, 2-1) hosts Jerome Monday night and will step back into conference play on Jan. 27.
“I don’t think we’re better than any team in our conference,” Elkin said. “We know it’s a dogfight every game. Right now it’s all about practice and getting our conditioning in.”
“We need to go day by day, practice by practice, and be ready to go every day,” Cleverly said.
Buhl 46, Filer 43
Buhl; 15; 8; 13; 10;-46
Filer; 14; 10; 12; 7;-43
Adam Lauda 6, Hunter Allred 5, Jim Elkin 12, Greg Loveless 9, Zyon Cleverly 14. Totals 16 10-19 46.
Chance Koyle 5, Garret Miskin 3, Marcus Hale 9, Cooper Moon 11, Nick Meyerhoeffer 13, Cade Ackerman 2. Totals 17 4-6 43.