PINEDALE – The Pinedale High School Wrangler boys’ basketball team put up a tenacious fight to defend their home court against non-conference rival, the Jackson Broncs, on Friday, Jan. 13.
Jackson led by 10 points, 33-23, at halftime. Resolved to turn up the pressure, the Wranglers outscored Jackson in both the third and fourth quarters. Pinedale managed to come within two possessions of overtaking the Broncs on several occasions.
A 3-pointer by junior Owen McMillen closed the gap to 3 points late in the fourth quarter. With seconds to spare in regulation, junior Bridger Kaiser scored inside the paint. Unfortunately, Pinedale came up short in closing the deficit as the final seconds ticked down and Jackson took the win, 58-55.
“We made some uncharacteristic plays throughout the game, but I’m proud of how we were able to go on some runs and battled back in the second half,” said Head Coach Marcus Helland. “We made some key mistakes on both ends of the floor during the last four minutes of the game, which allowed Jackson to seal the game. It’s another great learning opportunity, especially early in the year against a non-conference team.”
Jackson took the initiative offensively in the first quarter, netting 18 points to 11 by Pinedale. Junior Josh Gosar opened scoring for the Wranglers with a layup. Kaiser made two shots from the free-throw line. McMillen sunk a 3-pointer and Kaiser went on a 4-point run.
Jackson won the second quarter, though by a significantly smaller margin, 15-12. Gosar sunk three free throws and a jumper. Kaiser broke into the paint to score. Gosar netted a deep 3-pointer and Kaiser followed with a layup.
Senior Colby Bailey forced a turnover as the first half came to a close.
Rebounding in the third quarter, Pinedale outscored Jackson, 13-10. McMillen scored a 3-pointer in the first few seconds. Gosar sunk a close-range shot, closing Jackson’s lead to only 5 points.
Defensive pressure by Bailey and junior Jayce Ramage resulted in a turnover. Gosar scored again from inside the perimeter. Bailey and Kaiser both snatched steals. Kaiser made a layup and Gosar netted a jumper.
In the final quarter, Pinedale scored 19 points and held the Broncs to 15. McMillen kept the Wranglers within two possessions of overtaking Jackson with a 4-point run.
Ramage blocked an attempted shot by Jackson and Bailey scored inside the paint. McMillen netted a 3-pointer and Gosar sunk a jumper, making it a 4-point game.
Gosar rustled a steal and Kaiser converted an and-1. McMillen grabbed a steal and Ramage caused a turnover. McMillen sunk a deep outside shot, reducing Jackson’s lead to 3 points. Kaiser then scored a buzzer-beating inside shot.
Gosar led in scoring against Jackson with 18 points. Kaiser and McMillen each tallied 17 points. Bailey rounded out scoring with 3 points.
Conference play heats up this weekend as the Wranglers travel to play Lyman on Friday, Jan. 20, and host Mountain View on Saturday. Freshmen play at 11 a.m. on Saturday, with junior varsity at 12:30 p.m., girls’ varsity at 2 p.m. and boys’ varsity at 3:30 p.m.