Winter Classic brings stiff competition for Wranglers


PINEDALE – The Wranglers trailed the Thermopolis Bobcats by eight points with 2 minutes, 20 seconds remaining in the third quarter of the opening game of the Pinedale Boys’ Basketball Winter Classic on Jan. 7-8.

Sophomore Owen McMillen caught a pass and launched a 3-pointer. Fellow sophomore Jayce Ramage snatched a steal and broke away to score a layup.

Thermopolis missed a shot and McMillen caught the rebound. Sophomore Josh Gosar tossed in a close-range shot, closing the Bobcats’ lead to a single point.

The Bobcats took possession and scored. McMillen grabbed the rebound, sending the ball down the court to Gosar.

Seconds before the third-quarter buzzer sounded, Gosar tossed in a 3-pointer, tying the game, 42-42.

Pinedale fought the Bobcats point-for-point in the final quarter, with Thermopolis pulling ahead by a single possession to take the win, 63-60.

The results in the scorebook did not turn out in Pinedale’s favor over the course of a tough weekend. The Wranglers fell to Buffalo, 64-36, and Rawlins, 69-44.

Despite the numbers on the scoreboard, the Wranglers battled through each quarter of each game with determination.

The close game against Thermopolis was testament to the Wranglers’ grit and growth over the past weeks.

“Friday night against Thermopolis was a learning experience for our guys,” said head coach Marcus Helland. “We haven’t been in those situations very often the past few years and it’s great to play a close game and learn from those mistakes how to win down the stretch. We played extremely hard all weekend and saw great improvement, especially on the defensive end against Rawlins and Buffalo.”

Thermopolis

Hitting the court energized in the first quarter, Pinedale scored 10 points while a strong Wrangler defense prevented the Bobcats from scoring.

Sophomore Bridger Kaiser set the pace with a deep 3-pointer. Ramage and junior Colby Bailey scored two points apiece. Gosar and McMillen contributed points from the charity stripe.

Thermopolis dominated the second quarter, outscoring Pinedale 22-6.

Returning from the locker rooms determined to turn the tide, Pinedale dropped in 26 points to 20 from Thermopolis in the third quarter.

McMillen scored a pair of 3-pointers. Gosar and Ramage both went on six-point scoring streaks. Bailey wedged inside the Bobcat’s defense to score a basket and Gosar made the buzzer-beating 3-pointer to tie the game.

Four Wranglers scored in the double digits. McMillen and Gosar led with 13 points apiece. Kaiser and Ramage both added 12 points to the tally. Bailey contributed eight points to the scoreboard with junior Michael Hosler scoring two.

Buffalo

The Bison started fast in the first two quarters, leading by 20 points when the halftime buzzer sounded.

McMillen kept Pinedale on the scoreboard in the first quarter with a pair of 3-pointers and jump shots. Gosar scored an outside shot in the second quarter, with Bailey making a close-range shot.

Buffalo maintained its momentum into the third quarter, outscoring Pinedale, 14-7.

The Wranglers rallied in the fourth quarter, trailing the Bison by a single possession in scoring. Kaiser scored two jumpers, a 3-pointer and a free throw.

McMillen led the team overall in scoring with 14 points, followed by Kaiser at 10, McMillen six, Bailey four and sophomore Brody Hamby two.

Rawlins

The Outlaws hit the Wranglers with a powerful offense and unyielding defense in the first half.

Pinedale regrouped and played a tighter third quarter, coming within three points of matching the Outlaws in scoring. Kaiser, Gosar, Ramage, Bailey and junior Luke Gray each contributed to the Wrangler scorebook.

Pinedale took the initiative in the final quarter, outscoring Rawlins, 16-11. Gosar went on a six-point scoring streak and scored 3-pointer. Bailey and Gray both scored two points.

Gosar tallied 18 total points against Rawlins, followed by Kaiser with eight, Bailey six, McMillen five, Gray four and Ramage three.

On Thursday, Jan. 13, the Wranglers played Big Piney. Results were not available at press time. The Wranglers square off against Jackson on the road Friday.

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