By Rob LaPlante
Crow River News Sports
Five of the past six years, the Buffalo Bison boys’ basketball team has been crowned Mississippi 8 champions. The lone blimp on the radar came a season ago when both St. Michael-Albertville and Rogers dethroned Buffalo of their five-year reign.
With one of the biggest crowds on hand for “Youth Night” to witness the first of two showdowns this season, the crowd was entertained for one half as the home team enjoyed a 22-20 halftime lead. A strong defensive effort and the hot hand from sophomore Jackson Greenwaldt was the difference in the opening 18 minutes.
“It was a good atmosphere,” said Greenwaldt, who as a younger player is already making a name for himself. He is the only Knights player to average double digits in scoring at 14.8 points per game. “You could just see everybody was excited and jacked. It was a really good atmosphere to play in.”
“We executed very well in the first half. We had a ton of open shots. But I thought we missed a lot of shots we normally make. We could have had a little bigger lead,” said head coach Tim Anfenson.
Those missed opportunities eventually would come back to haunt them. Their shooting struggles continued into the second half, as the Bison pulled away in a 56-43 win.
Buffalo leaned on their size and experience to take the game over and senior guard Ethan Freer hit some key shots as well as slow down STMA’s leading scorer.
“Freer is a 6-1, 180-pound athlete who is an 18-year old and he’s playing against a 15-year old sophomore,” Anfenson said. “That’s tough. They were banging Jackson around a bit. That’s definitely a factor.”
Freer scored 16 points, going a perfect 5-for-5 from the charity stripe and hit on 3-of-5 from 3-point territory.
Despite getting some tough matchups, Greenwaldt said he’s having a blast his sophomore year. “It’s given me some confidence as a sophomore knowing I can stick with these guys. So as the year progresses, I know I can be up there with the best of the best.”
Greenwaldt’s 20 led all scorers. Senior Brian Ferry scored eight points. Ferry excited the crowd late in the game when he leaped high on a breakaway – barely skimming the rim, but enough to qualify for a dunk.
Junior Dallas Freeman had eight assists and four rebounds. Sophomore Trevor Rothstein had seven points and four rebounds and Senior Erik Johnson finished with four points and five boards.
The Knights as of Monday were 8-8 overall and 1-1 in the M-8. Their home record dropped to 4-5 overall this season. Tuesday night they were at home to Monticello (results unavailable). Friday at 7:15 p.m. they host Big Lake.