Both Laramie Basketball Teams Fall Short Of Their Goal
The end of the high school basketball season came last Friday and Saturday for both Laramie High School teams at the regional tournament in Cheyenne.
The Laramie Lady Plainsmen fell one victory short of reaching the state tournament after a 71-48 loss to No. 1 Cheyenne East last Saturday. The loss meant an end to their season with a 7-16 overall record.
Meanwhile, the Laramie Plainsmen suffered a heart-breaking, 51-50 loss in double-overtime last Friday to the Natrona County Mustangs. They wrapped up the 2018-19 season with an overall record of 8-14.
Laramie Lady Plainsmen
The Lady Plainsmen survived elimination last Friday morning, as sophomore Kylee Cox scored a career-high 24 points off the bench and led Laramie to a 15-point victory over the Sheridan Broncs at Storey Gym in Cheyenne. The final score was 45-30.
LHS head coach Rod Tyson called it a great win.
“I was glad we were able to pull it out. We were really sluggish and things weren’t going well in the first quarter, and they (Sheridan) had a good game plan, trying to spread it out, not let us get our passes to the wings. Then, once the girls figured that out, we shot better and made better decisions.”
Laramie took control with a 20-2 run in the second half. The Lady Plainsmen trailed 22-20, but after their surge led 40-24.
Cox scored nine points in the third and added 10 more in the final frame. She knocked down three 3-pointers and went seven-of-eight at the foul line. Senior Jennifer Aadland added her 10th double-double of the season. She finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds.
Laramie (7-15) shot 30 percent for the game. They went 5-22 (23%) from deep and were 12-18 (67%) at the foul line.
Sheridan (3-19) shot only 24 percent from the field. They made two 3-pointers and were 6-7 (86%) at the charity stripe. The Broncs were led by Annie Mitzel with 12 points. They did out-rebound the Lady Plainsmen, 41-31.
LHS moved on to Saturday morning and faced Cheyenne East, after the Thunderbirds were upset by the Gillette Camels in the regional semifinal, 71-53, last Friday night.
Cheyenne East (24-2) pulled away in the second half for a 71-48 victory last Saturday morning that brought an end to the Lady Plainsmen’s season.
Tyson said, “They made a lot of shots in the second half. The people we wanted shooting were shooting, but they were making ‘em. That just makes it tough. The girls played really well and tough throughout, and they didn’t give up all the way through.”
Tyson added, “I think the depth (of Cheyenne East) is what got us at the end.”
Laramie withstood a quick burst by the Thunderbirds, 4-0. They went on a 9-0 run and led 11-6 before East rallied. It was 14-11 Thunderbirds after the first. Cheyenne East extended to a 28-21 advantage in the second before LHS scored the last four points of the half. It was 28-25 Thunderbirds at halftime.
The second half was all Cheyenne East. They outscored the Lady Plainsmen 43-23. The Thunderbirds shot 52 percent in the last half and held LHS to 28 percent shooting.
East had eight players score between six and 12 points in the game.
Laramie was led by Aadland with 20 points and 14 rebounds. It was her 11th double-double of the season. Janey Adair added nine points, while Cox finished with eight.
Tyson also said, “It’s always tough at the end of the year. I’ve been coaching 30-plus years, and it’s never easy. I’ve only had the pleasure of one time being a state champion, and that was a great speech. This was really tough. When the kids are sad and hurting and you feel so bad for them, but things will get better in the future for them.”
It looked like the Plainsmen were on the brink of day three of the regional basketball tournament, but Natrona’s Cooper Quig banked in a 25-foot three-point shot with less than a second left in the second overtime to give the Mustangs the victory.
Plainsmen head coach Travis Brown knew it was an agonizing way to go out.
“I challenged them (the team) at halftime, and I was really proud of the way they responded. They’ve got nothing to be ashamed of. That group of kids left everything out on the court. I’m very proud of the effort we had. Unfortunately, just didn’t come out on top, but you have to take your hat off to Natrona. A real classy ball club, a really good coach, and happy for their club. Either way, somebody was going to be sad.”
Christian Mickelson gave LHS a 49-46 lead with a three-pointer early in the sixth period. Natrona’s Jordan Bertagnole answered with a basket that cut it to 49-48. The teams traded defensive stops before Laramie’s Tyler Oppie poked the ball free and Mickelson got the foul and went to the free throw line. He made one-of-two.
Natrona got the ball and tried to work against the Plainsmen zone defense, but couldn’t penetrate. Quig got the ball back with time winding down, glanced at the clock, and threw up a heave over two Laramie defenders at the top of the zone. It hit off the backboard and went straight in for the win.
Laramie’s season ended with an 8-14 overall record. Senior Hudda Herrera led the way with 17 points and eight rebounds. Mickelson added nine points, while sophomore Garrett Dodd had career-highs of nine points and four rebounds. LHS shot 42 percent for the game. They were just 8-13, 62 percent, at the foul line.
Natrona (7-14) was led by Bertagnole with 17 points and nine rebounds. The Mustangs shot 39 percent from the floor.
Neither team got much separation early. It was 16-12 NC after the first quarter. Both teams scored four points in the second, which made it 20-16 Mustangs at halftime. Behind three triples by Dodd in the third, Laramie out-scored Natrona 19-10 and held a 35-30 lead as the game went to the final period. A Mickelson three just over a minute into the fourth gave LHS a 38-30 advantage. That was their biggest lead of the game.
The Mustangs responded with a 12-4 run and led 44-42. Herrera’s spin move down the left side of the lane and lay-up tied it at 44 with 11 seconds left. NC had the ball knocked away in the backcourt. Then, they settled for a half-court heave that wasn’t close. Each team scored only two points in the first overtime.
Postseason honors for players and coaches in Class 4A will be released next week by the Wyoming Coaches Association.