State 3A/4A Girls Basketball Preview
What to watch for on the hardwood with 3A and 4A Girls teams.
Like the guys brackets, the reigning Gatorade Player of the Year is on the court. Stanford bound Kaylee Johnson and the Natrona Fillies come in ranked #1 and regional champions. The only thing that may have hurt them, is playing in the West conference while Sheridan, Gillette, and East were beating up on each other, priming for a run at state. Natrona is looking for their first title since going back to back in 1999 and 2000.
As for Sheridan, the Lady Broncs and first year head coach Jessica Pickett have done something no other Wyoming team has done this year....beat Natrona. They fell last weekend at regionals, however and may have to repeat the feat in the semi finals if they wish to win their first title since 2007. Pickett was a member of the 2002 Thermopolis girls state champions in 3A. She also had a few of her girls enter the slam dunk contest at the Flaming Gorge Invite in Green River, the first ever female contestants.
Since 2000, the Gillette girls have won 8 titles. They've won 14 overall. Mitch Holst is in his 14th year at the helm of the Camels. The defending champs won the East last week and have them on a good side of the bracket.
East and coach Rusty Horsely have been close. They were runners up a year ago and Champions in 2010. They hope to make it back to the top this year.
The Central girls are back at state for the first time in 4 years. Their last game at state was a double overtime loss to Sheridan in 2009 for 5th. The last Lady Indians title came in 2008.
The 11 year drought for the Riverton girls came to an end this year. The Wolverines haven't been to state since the Kristen Newlin era. Newlin went to play at Stanford, now is playing professionally in Turkey. Ron Porter is the coach in his fourth year with the girls. He coached the RHS boys to a few state appearnces in 9 years back in the 90's. He has but 1 senior on this year's roster so any state experience is valuable towards next year. Riverton hasn't won a girls state basketball title since 1984.
Kelly Walsh has a first year coach in Sara Tuomi. She played 4 years at Weber State and remembers her first game as head coach when Emily Erdahl tossed in a full court game winner against Central. She hopes to build on this year's state performance. Kelly Walsh has never won a state girls basketball championship.
Rock Springs last won a title in 1992. The Tigers finished 2nd in the West to Natrona last weekend.
Much like the 3A boys, the 3A girls division has been a bumpy ride, too.
I'm thinking not a lot of people expected to see the defending champs back in Casper this weekend. But, Star Valley is there, as a three seed. The Lady Braves proved a lot of people wrong back in March of last year, too, when they handed Douglas their one and only loss of the season in the finals.
Douglas is strong again this year even though they have a first year head coach. Cody Helenbolt takes over for Jacy Heny who left to pursue college coaching opportunities. One Starter was back from last year, but, she Heather Townsend unfortunately went down with an ACL injury. Heather will pick it back up next fall at CWC in Riverton in volleyball and basketball. In the "Its just a game " category, give a special cheer for #5 Brooke Marcus. She missed her freshman year undergoing chemotherapy and is a cancer survivor! Douglas, by the way, last won a girls title in 2005.
A year ago, two teams were not doing so great. Mountain View was 2 and 22 and missed the state tournament for the first time since 2006. This year, without a senior on the team, the Lady Buffaloes are West Regional Champs under Dustin Rees in this 7th season at MV. Worland finished last year 3 and 22. They go to state as the East #2 seed. MV has one state title banner on their wall and that was from 1998. Worland, on the other hand, has never won state.
By now you've heard of the situation Torrington faced. If you haven't, CLICK HERE. The Lady Blazers, ranked #1 in the last Wyopreps Coach's and Media poll, have a 9 am game after getting to state as a #3 seed. Jeff Halley may or may not have his full team there due to a funeral the day before. The Lady Blazers are truly learning what team and family are all about and play with heavy hearts this weekend. Torrington has only one banner in their gym, too, and that came in 1990.
Powell takes on that Torrington team at 9am Thursday. Scott McKenzie has coached for 24 years but is in his 2nd with PHS. The Lady Panthers have been at the top of the West most of the season yet are looking for respect from the East teams. The Lady Panther basketball team has never won a state title.
Coach Spike Robinson in Lander once coached two state championship games in one night. Back in 1999, Spike was the coach of BOTH the Kaycee boys and girls programs. The boys beat Burlington in the first game. He then changed benches but his girls lost to Big Horn. He did win a title with the girls back in 1993. He was also the head coach when Lander won their last title, 2006, with Tahnee Robinson.
Newcastle comes to state as the #4 seed. Don't let that fool you, though, as the Dogies have been hardened for game play with the East conference schedule. A lot of people may be surprised to see the Dogies at state. If you've been wondering where Hannah Cass has been on Peak Preps, she suffered a knee injury and is out. Here's hoping for a speedy recovery to the sophomore. Her teammates, though, have rallied and extended their season to at least two more games. Newcastle has 1 state title in their trophy case and it came back in 1979.
Although it's a different sport, Newcastle and Mountain View are in the same spots as the state volleyball tournament...and the Lady Dogies pulled off the first round upset.