Rocky girls end their season at regionals

It’s been a long road with plenty of ups and downs and many lessons learned along the way for the girls basketball team from Rocky Mountain High School. That road ended, at least for this season, at the regional tournament that was held in Riverside this past weekend after three hard-fought games that left the state championships just out of reach for the Lady Grizz.

The girls took on their first opponent, Wyoming Indian, on Thursday.

Rocky Mountain players explode off the bench during Rocky’s comeback win over the Kemmerer Lady Rangers Friday morning at Riverton High School. Pictured are (l-r) Hannah Parker, Shauna Loman and Kelly Vezain.

“We knew when we were coming in that Wyoming Indian is a streaky team and the goal was to try to keep them from streaking on us,” said Coach Ryan Boettcher. “By streaky I mean they make a lot of runs and they can put together 6 to 8 points in a hurry if you let them.”

Kallee Jo Wilson was on a “streak” of her own, scoring 6 points in rapid succession at the beginning of the game.

“It was an exciting first quarter and ending with a one-point difference,” said Boettcher. “We knew their best player was Anneshia Hill and we tried to stay with her as much as we could.”

Hill scored 21 points for WI and led the charge in points through all four quarters.

“To give her credit, she (Hill) hit four 3s in the game and they weren’t your normal 3s. They were deep, and it wasn’t like we weren’t guarding her,” said Boettcher. “So, sometimes you have to give credit where credit is due and credit goes to her for playing a good game.”

Wilson scored 12 points, Rachael Allred 9 and Shauna Loman 8.

“The problem was we dug ourselves a bit of a hole in the second and third quarters allowing them to outscore us by 2 points in each half,” said Boettcher. “We were down 6 to 8 points at one time in the game and we were able to claw back into it and give ourselves a shot at trying to win the game.”

In the end the Lady Grizz needed 4 points and ultimately fell to WI 46-42.

“At the end of the day it was just a matter of two baskets,” said Boettcher. “It wasn’t from a lack of effort, they just out-played us.”

Scores by quarter were Rocky 12, 8, 8 and 14. WI 13, 9, 10 and 14.

Staying Alive

On Friday the girls played an exciting game against Kemmerer that kept fans on the edge of their seats right through to the end.

The girls started off strong scoring 13 to Kemmerer’s 11 in the first quarter but lost steam in the second and third quarters. Kemmerer took the lead in the second, outscoring the Grizz 10-8. The Grizz came apart in the third, scoring only 2 to Kemmerer’s 13. Just when all appeared to be lost, the Lady Grizz had a tremendous surge, scoring 22 to Kemmerer’s 9 in the final quarter of the game, allowing them to walk away with a much-needed win.

Brianna Hocker hit the game-winning shot when the team was tied 43-43 in the fourth, with only three seconds left in the game, taking the team over the top with one final basket for a 45-43 win.

“The girls did a good job on scrambling and Shauna found Brianna wide open and she knocked it down and that was the game,” said Boettcher.

Boettcher thought the girls played “stagnant” in the second and third quarters.

“They basically out-hustled us in the third quarter and we basically out-hustled them in the fourth,” he said. “We got some timely shots and our leadership stepped up there and it made a difference in the game.”

Loss to Shoshoni

The girls went into their third game in the tournament thirsty for another win in their game with Shoshoni, the number one team out of the south.

“We knew they were a good team and a dangerous team,” said Boettcher. “We did the same thing, where we started off ahead 3 points in the first quarter but fell short in the second, scoring only 2 to their 13.”

The team came back in the third fighting hard, but they were outscored again 18-15. Again, they surged in the fourth, outscoring Shoshoni 16-8, but it wasn’t enough to pull ahead before the clock ran out and the girls fell 47-44 to Shoshoni, ending their basketball season.

Wilson scored 15, Allred 12 and Loman 8.

“Again, it was the same sort of deal, a very physical game where they stayed very active and we just weren’t active enough,” said Boettcher. “Any time there was a loose ball or a rebound they didn’t waste any time getting to it and we weren’t doing that at all. To me they out-hustled us for the majority of the game.”

Wilson re-injured her ankle in the second quarter and was out most of the quarter but made a gallant comeback later in the game.

“She came back in the third quarter and it really gave us a lift, but they still outscored us,” said Boettcher. “Although we outscored them 16-8 in the end, it just wasn’t enough. To give them credit, they came back and hit a really long 3, which put them up by 2. With eight seconds left we had a look at the basket but it just didn’t go in. The night before it went in for us, but this time it didn’t.”

“I was happy with the effort, but I wish they hadn’t dug a hole to begin with that they had to spend the whole game trying to dig their way out of,” he said. “It’s been that way all season.”

Boettcher set a goal for the girls to play more as a team by the end of the season and he felt that even though the girls didn’t make it to State they did reach that goal.

“That was our goal all season, to develop as a unit,” explained Boettcher. “We already knew that Kallee was an all-state caliber player and that she would draw a lot of attention (from the other teams) so we worked really hard to develop the rest of the girls around her.”

Although Boettcher felt the team showed “flashes of brilliance” at times, at other times he felt they “lost their way a bit.”

The team will graduate two seniors this year, Karli Leonhardt and Isabel Gurrola but will retain a fine lineup of players for next year.

“Shauna surprised a lot of people this year,” said Boettcher. “She really loves the game and has a good touch on the ball. We’re going to polish her up for another couple of years.”

“Mandee also came a long way this year, not one of the tallest, but a good rebounder,” he said. “So we’re looking forward to her next year, too.

“Brianna Hocker also came on for us this year with some good games, and she’s beginning to find her niche in what we do. Rachael Allred also had a big tournament for us, too.”

“Kallee upped her statistics in spite of not having another all-stater around her to take some of the heat off of her and in spite of all the injuries she had this year.”

“Hannah Winland played solid for us, too and she’s only a sophomore and hopefully Hannah Parker will be back next year, too.”

“On down the line the whole roster looks good for next year and I’m hoping they will be inspired to put in the time to get to that next level and to be the consistent team that is hard to beat next year,” he said.

By Patti Carpenter