Lady Bulldogs defeat Moorcroft with buzzer beater
MOORCROFT – The Lady Bulldogs had their backs to the wall last Friday night and with four seconds left in the game, the impossible happened and Wheatland defeated Moorcroft 43-42 to finish their regular season record at 17-7.
Ahead for most of the game and neither team giving much ground, the game stayed at a one-point differential down the stretch. Moorcroft who had hit seven 3-point shots in the game came up with perhaps their biggest shot with 10 seconds left in the game that put the Lady Wolves up by one point.
After a timeout by Wheatland coach Michelle Coplen the team went to the sure-handed Grace Battershell, who fought her way up the floor and into the forecourt with four seconds left before another timeout was called.
With a play drawn up in the huddle that resembled “the old picket fence” (See the movie Hoosiers for clarification of that term) with the game’s leading scorer at the elbow. The season leading scorer Lily Nichols was up tight behind Graves, and then, Karly Jones and Battershell were also the down players on the lane line.
Kacey Otero stood alone 20 feet from her closest player. It was a guessing game for Moorcroft as to who was going to get the ball. They did not cover the inbound and lined up three defenders outside the picket fence and two players in the paint. One could have only guessed that Moorcroft was thinking a Lily Nichols shot from the perimeter closest to Otero.
The official handed the ball to Otero, and she surprised everyone as both Battershell and Jones picked low and Graves began slicing down the lane line. Otero threw a pin-point pass that had to be as perfect as perfect could be to Graves who has a freight train heading for the hole.
Graves caught the ball and a second later was power sliding to the hole with a solid post move that would give her 18 points on the night, a victory for the Lady Bulldogs and bragging rights as the first round of regionals will be déjà vu with both teams taking the court in Torrington for the opening round of the Wyoming 3A regional girls basketball tournament Thursday at 3 p.m.
Graves led all scorers with 18. Nichols had eight points – all in the second half – while Otero had seven. Battershell and Jones each had three, and Laynie Goertz had two and Brinley Heimsoth one. The Lady Bulldogs outrebounded the Wolves 17-12 and they shot 18-for-40 for 45% from the field.
“With our conference games ending the girls finished awesome,” Coplen said. “The team has battled through injuries and sicknesses throughout the season, so being able to go 3-0 into regionals is a great booster. Offensively we saw the team that we had to start the season. The girls had some great offensive reads and were finishing great plays. Jadea's presence inside was the best we have seen this season. The final play of the game was never practiced by the girls. Kacey was able to execute the perfect pass to Jadea with five seconds left in the game. Going into regionals this week there are only going to be more exciting games. The girls have worked hard this entire season.”