The Lady Grizz traveled to Riverton over the weekend to compete in the Regional tournament. The girls played Kemmerer in their first game of the tournament, Thursday.
“It was just one of those games where there was a lot of energy in the gym and we did a pretty good job of taking care of the basketball,” said Coach Ryan Boettcher.
The girls had a 14-point lead at the half. Kemmerer began to even the score in the third, but the Lady Grizz managed to keep their lead, winning 67-61.
“Sometimes it’s easier to play a little looser and take some chances when you’re behind and that’s what Kemmerer did in the third and they carried it into the fourth,” said Boettcher. “That’s tournament basketball. You have to expect that to happen and distance yourself. They are a team with a lot of quickness and they were trying to win the game. They were taking long shots and rebounds. We had to tighten up our defense and stay ahead. A big part of it was staying aggressive when we needed to be.”
Boettcher noted that Rachael Allred scored important points on some free throws down the stretch.
Brianna Hocker led with 20 points.
“She had a really good game for us,” said Boettcher. “She shot well from everywhere in that game. She had a big game for us.”
Kallee Jo Wilson had 14 points, Mandee Leonhardt had 10 points, Shauna Loman had 9 points and Hannah Winland had 8 points. Wilson led in rebounds with eight.
Next up, the girls played a closely contested game against Lovell, ultimately falling to the Lady Bulldogs 53-47. (see related story.)
The Lady Grizz fought hard going into the fourth quarter one point ahead of Lovell.
“We can’t complain about anything. We had plenty of chances to win,” said Boettcher. “What probably hurt us the most is that we took a few too many quick shots in the game. We never did get a rhythm going offensively and that hurt us a little bit. What it came down to was who could put a few buckets together in the fourth quarter and Lovell was able to do that and we weren’t.”
Boettcher noted that there was some good bench play in the game from Mikaela Hocker and Hannah Winland.
“They kind of kept us in things when our first crew wasn’t looking that good,” said Boettcher, “especially early on in the first half, when we just couldn’t get things going. It probably would have helped if we could have taken more offensive rebounds. They’re a big team with a lot of athleticism; they box out well and are big and strong.”
Wilson led with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Winland had 8 points, Allred had 7, Brianna Hocker had 6 points, Loman had 5.
“We probably settled for too many perimeter shots in the game and could have been more aggressive,” said Boettcher.
The third game was a loser-out game against Wyoming Indian on Saturday morning.
“It had been a while since we had played them, but we knew they’ve been playing well,” said Boettcher. “They are always dangerous and we knew we had to defend well and get after them.”
The game was tied at the half. In the third the Lady Grizz were able to put a little distance between themselves and WI, outscoring them by six points in the third. WI made a late run in the fourth, but the Lady Grizz were able to hold them off, winning 58-54.
“Shauna caught fire in that game in the second half and got things going with 19 points,” said Boettcher. “It was a better shooting day for her than the one before. She had six rebounds, too.”
Wilson led with 17 points and 17 rebounds.
“She had a monster game for us and controlled the ball for us and the post on both ends of the floor,” said Boettcher.
Hocker had 10 points.
“We had some good defensive efforts in that one with Kelly Vezain, who did a nice job coming off the bench and helping us defend,” said Boettcher.
Winland injured her ankle in the first half and was out for the rest of the game.
“We did a nice job of maintaining our composure and got the fire up and some momentum going in the second half of the game,” said Boettcher. It took a lot of weight off our shoulders winning that game.”
The girls concluded the tournament with one last game against Thermopolis, falling 43-36 to Thermop.
“They’re a really good team and they have some good one-on-one players,” said Boettcher. “That’s kind of what it came down to; they got a few buckets from those girls. We didn’t play bad or anything like that, but both teams were tired and the girls were hurting a little bit.”
Boettcher said the game was close throughout.
“We were playing on some tired legs, against a good team, a ranked team that we split with during the regular season,” said Boettcher.
Wilson led with 11 points and 10 rebounds. Loman had 9 points, Allred and Vezain had 6 apiece.
“Kelly helped us out a lot in that game, too,” said Boettcher. “She had 6 points and four rebounds off the bench, which really helped us.”
Boettcher noted that the team had their lowest shooting percentage of the tournament in that game but the shooting from the free throw line was good.
“We shot well from the free throw line but the problem was that we just didn’t get there enough,” he said.
The girls are seeded fourth going into State and will be up against Tongue River, the top ranked team in the State, in their first game of the State tournament at 6 p.m. Thursday at Casper College.
“We’re not going there to lay down for Tongue River,” said Boettcher. “We’re going there to beat them.”
By Patti Carpenter