CASPER – Coming from behind in basketball is a tough task.
It’s even harder when the other team is controlling the boards on both ends of the court.
The Cheyenne Central girls kept pace with Green River before coming up short during a 49-40 loss in an elimination game at the Wyoming Class 4A state tournament Friday at the Casper Events Center.
The season came to a close for the Lady Indians with a respectable 18-9 record for a fairly young team that had a roster of three seniors, five juniors, three sophomores and a freshman – and the underclassmen now have state tournament experience.
“It’s phenomenal for them to get the opportunity see it, come compete and know this is another level even with teams you’ve played during the year and teams you don’t – everyone takes it to another level,” Central coach Glen Kirkbride said.
This is the first time Central won’t be playing on the third day at state in its past six trips to the state tournament. The Indians were fourth twice, won the fifth-place game twice and lost the fifth-place game once before this season.
“It was a grind. (Green River) hit a lot of free throws down the stretch, and we struggled to convert offensively,” Kirkbride said. “It’s tough to have it end like this, but like I told (the team), it only ends right for one team every year.”
The Wolves outrebounded Central 45-31 overall, including 23-15 on the offensive side, limiting the second chances for the Indians. The rebounds for Green River were inside the paint and chased down outside. Green River came into the tournament as the third-best rebounding team in 4A at 33.6 per game.
“We wanted to attack, and they shut us down and got a lot more boards than we thought they were going to,” said Central junior Ellie Fearneyhough, who led the team with 10 points. “Overall, we played a good game – they just fought harder than we did.”
But Fearneyhough was hampered with foul trouble picking up her third early in the third quarter and her fourth early in the fourth frame.
“It was hard because you see what’s going on, want to go try and fix it, but you really can’t do anything because you can’t foul and have to be very careful,” Fearneyhough said.
Central’s leading rebounder was freshman Jordan Jones, who had seven boards to go with eight points.
“It was really hard to get offensive boards because they were boxing out and we weren’t crashing the boards enough offensively or defensively,” Jones said. “They were just boxing out really well and out-hustling us.”
Jones converted a key 3-pointer with 1:07 left in the game to pull Central to within five points at 45-40. But those were the last points of the game for the Indians as Green River closed it out at the free-throw line.
“I was just hoping it would light a spark for our team so we could get going and back in the game,” Jones said.
Green River only had one field goal in the fourth quarter, but was 11 of 19 at the foul line during the period. The Wolves were 22 of 33 at the line for the game, while Central was 7 of 17.
Green River was led by junior Madelyn Heiser’s game-high 19 points. She had three 3-pointers in the first half to keep Green River close with Central. Sophomore Kayde Strauss had 10 points and eight rebounds, and junior Ashelynn Birch had a game-high 14 rebounds.
The first half featured six lead changes and six ties before Green River pulled away in the second half for a seven-point lead at 33-26 with 6:02 left in the third quarter and again at 37-30 with 6:04 left in the fourth quarter.
GREEN RIVER 49, CENTRAL 40
Cheyenne Central…….............12 8 10 10 – 40
Green River…......................… 11 14 10 14 – 49
Cheyenne Central: Jo. Jones 3-11 1-2 8, Gashler 0-0 0-0 0, Delbridge 2-7 3-4 7, Stults 0-0 1-2 1, Sallee 3-8 0-4 6, E. Fearneyhough 3-8 0-4 6, Boltz 1-2 0-1 2, Whalen 1-2 0-0 2, Ja. Jones 1-7 2-3 4. Totals: 16-45 7-17 40.
Green River: Strauss 2-12 4-4 10, M. Heiser 3-9 10-12 19, G. Heiser 0-0 0-1 0, E. Wilson 1-6 0-0 2, Angelovich 1-1 0-0 2, Birch 3-8 1-9 7, Macy 0-1 0-0 0, S. Wilson 0-0 0-0 0, Turner 0-2 2-2 2, Crowder 2-5 3-5 7, Counts 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 12-44 20-33 49.
3-pointers: Central 1-8 (Jo. Jones 1-3, Delbridge 0-1, Whalen 0-1, Ja. Jones 0-1, Sallee 0-2); Green River 5-18 (M. Heiser 3-5, Strauss 2-9, Turner 0-1, E. Wilson 0-3). Rebounds: Central 31 (Jo. Jones 7); Green River 45 (Birch 14). Assists: Central 4 (Delbridge 3); Green River 9 (Strauss 3, Birch 3). Steals: Central 8 (Fearneyhough 3); Green River 4 (Birch 2). Turnovers: Central 12 (Ja. Jones 3); Green River 12 (M. Heiser 6). Team fouls: Central 26, Green River 16.