CRAIG - Girls ball, boys ball, it didn't matter.
The Little Snake River Valley boys basketball team proved it Tuesday.
Scrutinized for using a girls ball the last time the Rattlers faced the Bulldogs - a 23-point home win Nov. 13 - the team from north of the state line showed regardless of the ball's size, the rim you shoot it through is the same.
The Rattlers (9-1) ran over and around the host Bulldogs (8-3), cruising to a 52-18 victory.
The win gave LSRV a season-sweep of CMS - the only team to defeat the Rattlers last season.
The loss placed the Bulldogs with a winless record (0-3) against teams from Wyoming.
CMS also lost last week in Rawlins.
"We didn't make any baskets," Bulldogs coach David Grabowski said. "Baggs is just a really good, balanced team. They are playing really good ball right now, and it seemed like we were kind of in their way."
The Bulldogs were short three starters - point guard C.J. Chavez (ineligible), post player Tyler Hildebrandt (vacation) and swingman Garret Stewart (concussion) - at the opening tip, and it showed.
LSRV jumped all over CMS, shutting out the Bulldogs in the first quarter on its way to an 11-0 lead.
By the time CMS guard Paul Laliberte ended the Bulldog scoring drought 1:30 into the second period, the Rattlers led, 15-2.
"Defense is always our No. 1 priority," LSRV coach Brent Lee said. "We have small quick kids that rotate to the ball very well. We were hungry after our first loss of the season last week."
The Rattlers play with a girls ball - smaller than a boys and a few grams lighter - for most of its games.
The Bulldogs are the only team in the area that plays with a boys ball.
So, what to do?
"We practiced for two hours last night with the boys ball," Brent Lee said. "We didn't have a lot of time to get used to it."
It didn't matter.
The Rattlers' balanced attack took a 26-8 lead into halftime and never looked back.
On cruise control for the remainder of the game, LSRV pulled out another 26 points in the second half, racing to the 34-point win.
The Bulldogs were outscored by 23 with the girls ball - 34 with the boys - during the two-game season series.
"When you're caught up in the game, you don't even notice" the change in basketballs, Conner Lee said. "We just wanted to come in here and prove we could win no matter what ball we use."
Gavin Spears filled in admirably in the post for the Bulldogs, leading the team in scoring with six points. Laliberte, Zack Bocco and Garrett Buckley pitched in with four points apiece.
"I think I played good," Spears said. "But I admit, they (LSRV) are a really tough team to beat."
Conner Lee led the Rattlers with 15 points. Grayson Lee dropped in 12 and Manuel Quinteros, 10.
"They just couldn't play with our team," Rattler Garrett Grieve said. "We didn't give them any openings. It shows how much we, as a team, are improving."
Stewart will miss the remainder of the season because of a concussion suffered in a non-basketball activity. : Grabowski said Hildebrandt and Chavez would be back in uniform Dec. 6 when the Bulldogs host Rangely. : Laliberte was held to 15 points below his season average (19 ppg).
John Vandelinder can be reached at 875-1793 or firstname.lastname@example.org