PINEDALE – The Pinedale High School Lady Wranglers rose to the occasion hosting the 2023 Pinedale Winter Classic Tournament on Jan. 6-7. Scoring two more wins at the event, the Lady Wranglers battled ferociously against 3A rivals that Pinedale will likely face again in the postseason.
Opening the New Year on a high note, Pinedale crushed Rawlins, 68-37, on Friday evening.
Pinedale dueled Buffalo on Saturday morning and came up short, 71-48.
Roaring back onto the court Saturday afternoon, a revitalized Lady Wrangler squad overpowered Worland, 23-7, in the first quarter. Worland attempted to close the gap in the second and third quarters. Pinedale shut Worland down in the fourth quarter for the win, 60-46.
“It was a good weekend of games,” said Head Coach Trent Bowers. “I’m really happy with where we’re at. This is a tough group of athletes. They are determined and ready to play.”
Pinedale won a closely contested first quarter, 15-12.
The Lady Wranglers launched an explosive, 22-point offense in the second quarter while the Pinedale defense closed ranks and held Rawlins to 9 points.
Pinedale netted 11 points to 6 from Rawlins in the third quarter. Rallying in the final quarter, the Lady Wranglers doubled Rawlins in scoring, 20-10.
“The girls came out a little slow in the first quarter, but started playing well together in the second quarter,” said Coach Bowers. “The team shared the ball well and shots were falling. Sara Kunard, Haylen Sandner and Elyn Bowers had a good game with scoring. Bella Heath came in in the second half and scored her first points of the season. The girls are doing better getting rebounds and are being more aggressive securing the boards.”
Bowers scored 26 points against Rawlins, including four 3-pointers. Kunard tallied 18 points, all from the outside. Sandner added 15 points to the scoreboard, Heath 4, Gabby Rogers 3 and Erica Wilson 2. Sandner and Bowers both grabbed six rebounds. Bowers delivered eight assists, and she and Kunard snatched four steals apiece.
Buffalo came out strong in the first and second quarters to establish a 35-20 lead at halftime. Pinedale fought to close the deficit in the third quarter, trailing Buffalo by only 2 points in scoring. Buffalo edged up in the fourth quarter, 19-13.
“Eventually a team will have a game where the shots just don’t fall, but I’m happy with the way we played,” said Coach Bowers. “Buffalo is a good team – fast and aggressive. This was a good game for us to sit back, examine ourselves and reflect on areas to improve. In the long run, this game will help us refocus.”
Elyn Bowers netted 17 points against Buffalo, Sandner 12, Kunard 9, Toree Andersen 6 and Rogers 4. Bowers totaled eight rebounds, four assists and three steals.
Proving their resiliency, the Lady Wranglers clobbered Worland in the first quarter, 23-7.
Pinedale’s impressive lead carried the team through the second and third quarters where Worland sunk 30 points to 23 from Pinedale. Worland’s recovery was too little, too late, and the Lady Wranglers capped the game off with a strong fourth quarter, outscoring Worland, 14-9.
“The girls learned what they needed to from the loss to Buffalo and put it behind them,” Coach Bowers said. “Worland is a physical team, and Pinedale did a good job matching their speed and physicality.”
The Lady Wranglers shooting percentage dropped against Buffalo but returned to the season average of 48 percent against Worland. Pinedale is currently tied with Cody for the second-highest shooting percentage out of all classes in Wyoming.
“Sara had a good game – she shot well and did great with assists,” Bowers said. “Elyn came out and had another great game, shooting a high percentage and rebounding. Haylen knocked down the free throws, making 8 out of 10. She has been putting in extra time working on free throws and it showed. Toree brought the energy to the court and has a battery that doesn’t die. Trista Covill played out of her comfort zone at guard and was really physical. Gabby did well taking on a new zone defense.”
Bowers scored 28 points against Worland, Sandner 14, Kunard 13 and Andersen 5. Sandner caught eight rebounds and Kunard made six assists. Kunard, Andersen and Bowers each rustled four steals.
The Lady Wranglers host non-conference rival Jackson on Friday, Jan. 13. Freshmen play at 3 p.m., followed by junior varsity at 4:30 p.m., girls’ varsity at 6 p.m. and boys’ varsity at 7:30 p.m.