Cody senior Caleb Pryor found himself in a familiar position in a somewhat unfamiliar situation on Saturday when he stepped up to the free throw line in Jackson.
Pryor led his football team to a state championship this year and had to make more than a few plays to lead his team to victory at Spike Vannoy Field last November against Jackson.
So when the battle of the Broncs continued in the basketball season, it was only fitting that as Jackson was making a furious comeback from a 14-point deficit in the fourth quarter, Pryor would take the line to ice the game.
Pryor’s free throws with a bit over a minute to go were the last points the Broncs scored, and they were just enough for Cody to earn its third victory of the season, beating Jackson 64-62.
“I was glad I got them both in,” Pryor said. “I just kind of kept a clear head throughout.”
It was a chippy back-and-forth affair in Jackson as Cody (3-10, 1-2 4A Northwest) struggled to find a rhythm early. Sophomore Luke Talich continued his excellent season, scoring 12 points in the first half and leading Cody to a 33-33 tie at half.
The Broncs outscored Jackson 22-18 in the second quarter and kept the momentum going out of the halftime break, holding Jackson to just seven points in the third quarter while putting up 21 points of their own and running up a 14-point lead.
“[Coach Jacob Kraft] told us we just needed to play like we were playing,” said senior Nic Talich, who matched his season-high with six points in the game. “We needed to keep playing hard, not play down to anyone else’s level.”
The lead wouldn’t last. Though a young team, Jackson has streaky shooters who got hot from the outside and Cody couldn’t get a handle on its turnovers. Key plays from sophomore Robby Porter (15 points, two steals) in the final frame helped maintain a slight Broncs advantage until Jackson (1-11, 0-3 4A Southwest) sent Pryor to the line in an effort to keep Cody from dribbling out the clock.
Luke Talich led the way again for the Broncs with 19 points. Porter’s 15 off the bench provided a big spark in the second and fourth quarters, and Pryor’s 11 points were his best total since the win against Natrona.
Cody opened the weekend action in Afton, falling 51-30 to Star Valley. The Braves (6-7, 3-0 4A Southwest) came into the game against the Broncs on a five-game winning streak and were determined not to have it end.
The Braves came out in a trapping zone that the Broncs struggled to adjust to, and Star Valley found plenty of opportunities on the fast break, taking a 27-17 lead into the locker room at halftime.
The Braves controlled the tempo throughout the game, forcing the Broncs to work in the half court. Luke Talich found some early success with that, scoring eight points in the first quarter, but the Braves adjusted to Talich’s skill and length in the paint, holding him to just six points the rest of the game.
“Star Valley is a good team, they have some good players on that team,” Nic Talich said. “We got off that bus ride and didn’t come to play. There’s no excuse. We just need to show up and play our hardest.”
Luke Talich finished with 14 points and eight rebounds in the game. Senior Tristan Dollard, who replaced fellow senior Cody Phillips in the starting lineup in Jackson, added nine. No other Bronc scored more than two points in Afton.
Cody hosts Evanston (4-8, 2-1 4A Southwest)and Green River (5-7, 1-2 4A Southwest). The Broncs game in Evanston on Friday tips off at 7:30 p.m., while the Saturday tilt against Green River is at 3:30 p.m.
Stat of the game: 9
As the team’s second-leading scorer, Pryor expects to put the ball in the bucket, but was held without a field goal for nine straight quarters going back to the Jan. 30 matchup with Powell. He ended that streak in the second quarter against Jackson.
“I had a couple rough games,” he said, “and my teammates really supported me and did a good job of keeping me involved and my coaches did a good job of calming me down and getting me ready for Saturday.”