CASPER – After giving up a big lead in the first half, the Rock Springs Tigers maintain its composure and closed it out strong to earn a spot in the 4A Championship game with a win over the Gillette Camels, 56-55. Trevor Hautala scored with six seconds left to put the Tigers in the title game
After a Gillette three to open, Kael Mikkelsen, working hard on the boards, sparked a Tiger run. Nick McMurtrey and Trevor Hautala each hit threes and a Kelby Kramer dunk put Rock Springs up 10-3. Gillette ended the 10-0 run as the two teams traded points for the next several minutes. McMurtrey, Jesus Beltran and Hautala all added buckets in the final three minutes as Rock Springs took a 12-point lead after one, 20-8.
The Tigers continued to take advantage of cold shooting by Gillette to start the second. Hautala and McMurtrey each scored to start as Rock Springs jumped up 16, 24-8. After a Camel free throw, Kramer put down another one to extend the lead at the halfway point. Gillette closed the half on a big run outscoring Rock Springs 22-2 in the final four minutes of the half to take a 31-28 lead at the break. The Camels took the lead on a foul call at the buzzer as Gillette hit all three free throws.
Kramer and the Tigers scored the first four to re-take the lead to start the third. Gillette responded to regain the advantage but Hautala came right back putting Rock Springs back in front 34-33. A Camel free throw evened the game as the two teams went back and forth for the next two minutes. Mikkelsen, Kramer and Hautala all added buckets but Gillette was able to answer each time. After the two teams struggled to score for the next two minutes, Gillette was finally able to hit with a minute to go to even the game at 43. Beltran hit a 15 footer with six seconds to give the Tigers the lead heading into the final quarter.
Mikkelsen scored to open the fourth as the Tigers jumped up four to start the final period. After a Camel free throw, Beltran added another hoop to extend the lead to five, 49-44, with two minutes gone in the fourth. Gillette cut the lead back to three but a Hautala steal led to a layup on the other end as the Tigers maintained the five-point lead at the midway point of the fourth, 51-46.
Gillette was next to strike as a three cut the Tiger lead to two but Kramer went to work in the post putting the Tigers back up four with three minutes. Gillette responded with two straight threes as the Camels went up two. A Hautala free throw cut the lead to one. Gillette was patient on the offensive end as they ran the clock to under a minute. The Tigers put the Camels on the line with 44 seconds as Gillette missed the front end. Both teams had looks but missed giving the Tigers a shot at the win with 20 seconds. Hautala drove the lane scoring with six seconds to put the Tigers up one, 56-55. Gillette had one final look but missed as the Tigers moved into the championship game.
Hautala led the way with 18 points followed by Kramer who finished with 12 points and 11 boards. Mikkelsen and McMurtrey each added 10 as Mikkelsen also finished with a double-double grabbing 11 rebounds.
The Tigers will face the Kelly Walsh Trojans for the fourth time in the championship game on Saturday. The tip is scheduled for around 8:15 p.m.
Rock Springs High School
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