Custer County comeback try falls short

Despite 13 players on the scoreboard and a strong 20 points from senior Tyler Burke, the Custer County District High School Cowboys dropped a home game against Eastern A rival Laurel 54-49 on Saturday. 

“Tyler’s playing well on both sides of the ball,” said Cowboys head coach Houston Finn. “We expect a lot out of him and he’s doing a great job, but we need to help him out a little bit more.” 

The Cowboys were down 26-24 at the half thanks to a set of three-pointers from Burke but were held to just six points in the third as Laurel added another 18 in the quarter.

The Cowboys outscored the Locomotives 19-10 in a frenzied fourth quarter that saw three-pointers from Burke and junior Gabe Gundlach. The Locomotives took advantage of offensive rebounds, including a final minutes Isaiah Renner rebound and quick basket from his own missed foul shot to widen the scoring gap.

“Our rebounding is something we’ve struggled with all year,” said Finn. “Today it hurt us down the stretch, and the biggest thing that got us was [Laurel’s] offensive rebounds that they’d put right back in.” 

In the final minutes, Cowboy junior Kaden Stradley grabbed two steals and Laurel’s Dawson Cortese hit the bench with his fifth foul. Gundlach dropped in two from the foul line, but three missed shots on the Cowboys’ final possession echoed the struggles the Cowboys had finding the bottom of the net throughout the game. 

“We lost a lot of guys off of last year’s team. Tyler’s the only one back for the most part who got any minutes [last season],” said Finn. “Guys are trying to step up and we’re trying to compete, and we’re doing a good job with that. We just need to clean up some things and we’ll be OK.”

The Cowboys host Billings West High School on Tuesday. 

Laurel won the junior varsity game 68-27. Cowboy sophomore guard Clay Prell buried two three-pointers and sophomore Keith Vanderlaan scored all eight of his points in the fourth quarter.