MOUNTAIN VIEW – The 3A West Regional Basketball Tournament was an epic rollercoaster ride for the Pinedale High School Wrangler boys in Mountain View on March 2-4.
Each team brought their A-game to the high-stakes event where a single possession could determine whether a team advanced to State or ended its season.
The Wranglers faced Powell in the opening game on Thursday, March 2. Powell led by a razor-thin margin, 34-33, at halftime. Powell widened the gap in the third quarter before the Wranglers responded with 17 points in the fourth. Pinedale ultimately came up short by a few possessions and Powell posted the win, 66-57.
Refusing to throw in the towel, Pinedale rallied against Thermopolis on Friday. The Wranglers closed a 5-point shortfall in the first half and went on to secure a 72-58 win after leaving it all on the court in the fourth quarter.
Pinedale squared off against Lovell on Saturday in a winner-takes-all game that came down to the wire.
While the Wranglers battled to the bitter end, Lovell won by a 2-point heartbreaker, 49-47, ending Pinedale’s season early.
“The Wranglers played hard and the effort was there,” said Head Coach Marcus Helland. “I’m proud to coach this group of young men as they fought through adversity the entire weekend. We earned our first win at Regionals in four years, so that is something to highlight and be excited about for the future. I am extremely proud of (senior) Colby Bailey as he played his best game of his career in the loser-out game against Lovell.”
Helland thanked the seniors on the team for “sticking it out through thick and thin” over four seasons.
“They were a crucial part of building the program from 1- and zero-win seasons to winning 10 games this year. I cannot say enough positive things about the young men they have become.”
Pinedale won the first quarter, 16-15. Junior Jayce Ramage tossed in a jumper and scored a layup. Fellow junior Josh Gosar netted points from both inside and outside the perimeter.
Junior Bridger Kaiser landed a jumper. Pinedale took the lead with a layup by Bailey.
Powell tied the game at 14 points. Defensive pressure by Bailey and sophomore Nick Sletten resulted in a turnover.
The Panthers outscored the Wranglers by a single point, 18-17, in the second quarter.
Junior Owen McMillen tossed in 10 points, including two outside shots.
Powell led, 34-33, at halftime.
Powell took the initiative in the third quarter, netting 15 points to 7 from Pinedale. Bailey, McMillen and Gosar kept the Wranglers on the scoreboard.
Pinedale and Powell both scored 17 points in a physical fourth quarter.
Gosar and McMillen tallied 16 points apiece against Powell. Kaiser and Bailey each scored 9 points. Ramage rounded out the scorebook with 7 points.
The Bobcats led, 17-12, at the end of the first quarter.
A 3-pointer in the second quarter by junior Brody Hamby tied the game at 17 points. McMillen placed the Wranglers in the lead with a pair of jumpers.
Gosar sunk a 3-pointer before Thermopolis retook the advantage, 30-25, at halftime.
Pinedale chipped away at the Bobcats’ lead in the third quarter, outpacing Thermopolis, 19-15. McMillen netted a jumper and a 3-pointer. Gosar went 4-for-4 at the charity stripe. McMillen tossed in another outside shot. A 3-pointer by Hamby gave Pinedale the advantage, 41-40.
A reenergized Wrangler offense and defense roared onto the court in the fourth quarter. Pinedale more than doubled Thermopolis in scoring, 28-13. Kaiser, McMillen and Gosar tossed in 8 points apiece.
McMillen led Pinedale in scoring against Thermopolis with 26 points. Gosar contributed 23 points, Kaiser 13, Hamby 6 and 2 each from Bailey and Ramage.
Pinedale dominated the first quarter, 16-8. Bailey scored a jumper and converted an and-1. A pair of inside shots by Bailey placed Pinedale ahead, 10-6. Gosar netted an outside shot. McMillen beat the buzzer with a 3-pointer.
Bailey maintained Pinedale’s lead early in the second quarter with 6 points.
Lovell closed the deficit to tie the game, 22-22, at halftime.
McMillen opened the third quarter with a 3-pointer. Kaiser converted an and-1 and Pinedale found itself ahead, 28-25.
Lovell tied the game at 28 points. McMillen snagged a steal and sank a 3-pointer to regain the initiative for the Wranglers, 31-28.
Lovell went on an 11-point run to retake the lead, 39-31, as the fourth quarter opened.
The Wranglers answered back in the fourth quarter and Pinedale closed the gap with points by Kaiser, Gosar, McMillen and Bailey.
The Wranglers tied the game at 42 points with 2 minutes remaining in regulation. Lovell scored 5 points. McMillen netted a jumper, narrowing Lovell’s lead to 2 points, 47-45, with 16 seconds left on the clock. Lovell netted 2 points at the free throw line. Gosar scored from inside the perimeter as the shot clock counted down to 5 seconds.
Bailey led Pinedale in scoring against Lovell with a season-high of 17 points. McMillen posted 15 points, Gosar 10 and Kaiser 5.