PINEDALE – Junior Roxanne Rogers attacks basketball with drive and determination. She believes there is always room to improve and aims for higher targets. The feeling of triumph that accompanies the shattering of each goal hooked Rogers on the game.
“You can work hard all the time, but there’s always something more you can improve on,” she said. “I think I just got addicted to that feeling and still am. You can never do enough in basketball. You can always do that move a little bit better, you can always shoot the ball a little bit better.”
Basketball also spoke to Rogers’ competitive side.
“There are so many people that want to make it (in basketball),” she said. “It’s a big pool, and it’s really hard to make it to the top of the mountain. When you get that rush of accomplishment, I feel like that’s what just keeps pushing me to do more.”
Rogers played through two difficult seasons and turned disappointment into opportunity. Following an abrupt end to the previous season, the Wyoming Coaches Association recognized Rogers’ talents and named her to the All-State roster as a sophomore.
The Lady Wranglers’ chance to prove themselves at the 2020 State Tournament was pulled out from under them when public health officials shut the event down minutes before Pinedale hit the court. Rogers said that she felt like someone had punched her as she left the Casper Events Center with her teammates.
The new normal of social distancing, school closures and activity cancellations settled in. Rogers used the down time to get busy and work on improving her offensive and defensive skills. Making All-State remained a goal, but Rogers wanted to become a more rounded player, known for more than her deadeye accuracy at the charity line.
Rogers spent hours each day practicing at home with her little sister or at the gym when facilities began to reopen.
“I wanted to be that scorer, that dominant player,” she said. “I had to be able to take more control of the game, and I feel like scoring was the way to do that. I worked on becoming more of an athlete and becoming smarter on the court.”
The effort paid off. Rogers led the 3A West Conference in scoring during the 2020-2021 season, averaging 16.1 points per game.
Rogers also led the conference in assists at 3.7 per game and became a force on defense, pulling off 3.3 steals per game, the second-highest average in the conference. The junior continued to dominate on the free-throw line, shooting with 80-percent accuracy.
The Wyoming Coaches Association once again took note of Rogers’ impressive ability and named her to the 2021 All-State list. The recognition was a bonus to a season that was anything but normal.
“Getting All-State a second year is a big deal because that has been a big goal for me,” she said. “It’s something I definitely did not expect because this year we did not make it to State. Having nailed that down this year made me feel a lot better about the season.”
Starting from scratch
In second grade, Rogers’ parents encouraged her to try basketball. Rogers’ father competed in rodeo and she grew up around horses, not basketballs.
The first years on the court were tough, Rogers stated, as she navigated a new sport and path. By fourth grade, Rogers improved and joined a traveling team called the “Splash Sistas” with many of her current teammates.
“We were playing basketball whenever we could,” she said. “I felt like there was so much glory in that. I loved getting to go to new places, meet new people – I loved the atmosphere.”
Rogers trained with Devyn Petersen, formerly Devyn Christensen, a top-scoring Division I women’s basketball player for the Utah State University Aggies.
“She was really my idol and still is to this day,” Rogers said. “Just seeing her love for the game and all that she accomplished, that pushed me. Hearing her talk about basketball definitely made me want it more than anything.”
Rogers stuck with the sport through middle school and joined the Lady Wranglers her freshman year. She started in junior varsity and soon advanced to the varsity starting lineup. The first games were nervewracking, Rogers said, but she knew her parents were supporting her from the stands.
Rogers looked up to opponent McKinley Bradshaw, a Lyman alumni and key contributor for the University of Wyoming Cowgirls’ basketball team.
“By the time I got to high school, I knew that basketball was what I wanted to do,” Rogers said. “I remember watching (Bradshaw) and thought, ‘I want to be like her. I want to do something like that. I want to make waves.’”
Rogers earned All-Conference honors her freshman year, followed by All-State recognition the next two years.
During her sophomore year, Rogers was invited to play for the Idaho Flash, a traveling team in Boise sponsored by the Amateur Athletic Union. True to form, Rogers took on the challenges of a busy travel schedule and playing with a new set of teammates.
Rogers is already starting her training with the Idaho Flash this year and looks forward to a season that is as normal as possible.
It takes a team
When asked to recall highlights from the Lady Wranglers’ 2020-2021 season, Rogers’ mind immediately went to her teammates. She listed the victory against Kemmerer on Feb. 19 as a standout game.
“I remember one of our posts, Emma Rogers, shot a 3-point shot and she hadn’t taken one the entire year,” Rogers said. “She banked out the backboard, the ball went in and the entire gym went crazy.”
The buzzer-beater victory over Mountain View on Jan. 22 was also memorable.
“Kia (Hansen) splashed a 3-pointer in at the last second,” Rogers said. “I went back and I watched the film and you could see the camera shaking from everybody in the stands. That was a really good feeling.”
The team battled through a season of schedule changes, uncertainty and a new format to the postseason, including an all-or-nothing first round at Regionals.
“I think we had a really good season and we had a winning record the whole year,” Rogers said. “It was upsetting that we didn’t make it to State, but I was still really proud of the effort everybody put forth the whole year.”
The Lady Wranglers also grew into a relatively new starting lineup this season.
“Last year, we lost some of our senior leaders,” Rogers said. “But this year, we had four seniors step up. These were girls that I’ve been playing with since fourth grade. It felt like we had really great chemistry and honestly, it was one of the best teams I’ve played on since I’ve been in high school.”
Rogers stepped into more leadership roles this year.
“Going into the season, I knew that I was going to have a lot more responsibility,” she said. “To do that, I knew that I was going to have to speak up more and be more involved with my teammates. Our seniors led very well, and they definitely helped me along the way.”
In addition to her success on the basketball court, Rogers helped the Lady Wrangler volleyball team achieve historic success and an undefeated regular season this fall. Volleyball skills easily translate onto the basketball court, Rogers said.
“Basketball and volleyball correlate for sure. I spend a lot more time on basketball, but I think volleyball is so similar in coordination and athleticism.”
Rogers enjoys science and plans to pursue a career in optometry. She thanked her parents for teaching her the value of a strong work ethic and their support and willingness to travel across the region.
“I want to thank my teammates and my coaches, because they’ve been with me a long time and we’ve gone through everything together. I also want to thank the coaches that voted for me this year.”