WHEATLAND – Friday and Saturday action both on the road and at home showed much improvement in the poised and determined Lady Bulldog team.
At Torrington, Feb. 19, the Trailblazers were looking for retribution from an earlier loss to the Bulldogs in January. A month later and their home court, the Lady Dawgs made sure that would not happen.
Wheatland is a team that has learned how to play from behind with poise and patience and when Torrington jumped the Dogs early and developed a bit of Torrington swagger, Wheatland, under the patient offense and swarming defense came back and took the victory, 51-45 to sweep the season series.
Kayla Otero led all scorers with 26 and was money from the free throw line as she hit 8 of 9 with 6 of 6 coming down the stretch to keep the Trailblazers at bay. She also hit two shots from three-point range. Kaesha Davis had 11 points. Miranda Hanks had four points, as did Jadea Graves while Alyssa Matthews, Grace Battershell and Rory Anderson each had two points.
Saturday brought the girls back to the court for another tough game within 24 hours of the victory at Torrington. Rawlins had come to Wheatland and it was the Bulldogs first home game since January.
Rawlins has seemed to have the Lady Bulldog’s number and just a month ago, the Outlaws bested the Bulldogs by a score of 54-37. Wheatland is not the same team that played in Rawlins a month ago and the team has grown up.
Defensive battle lines were drawn from the opening inbounds. The three-point shooting that beat the Dogs in the last contest against the Outlaws was highly contested and in the first two quarters the low post squad of Anderson, Graves and Hanks continued to pound the boards, coming up with both defensive and offensive boards giving Wheatland many second chance shots.
The score was tied at the end of the quarter before a last millisecond prayer which banked off the board put Rawlins up 13-10. It gave them just enough momentum to open the score up and six minutes left in the second quarter Rawlins hit another 3 to give them a double digit lead at 20-10.
The Bulldogs of old may have tucked their tails and ran, but this team stayed strong and though they made a little run at the end of the quarter, they went into halftime behind by three points.
The third quarter saw the girls claw back into the game and Matthews hit a short jumper to tie the score at 25 apiece with a little over two minutes left in the quarter. Free throws were huge in that quarter as the team hit 5 of 6 from the charity stripe and increased their lead.
The fourth quarter brought out the best of both defenses, and although the dogs only hit three shots, the Rawlins strategy to foul backfired as they sent Wheatland to the line 12 times and the girls converted 10 shots to take the victory home, and ironically they won by those 10 points, 47-37. That is a 27-point swing from the last time the two teams played.
Khala Otero had 12 points to lead all scorers. All three “bigs” which included Anderson, Hanks and Graves each ended up with six points apiece and were brutal on the boards. Davis ended up with 9 points, Matthews contributed six points, and Battershell had two points.
The girls went 18-22 at the free throw line for 81% and most of those came in pressure situations.
Davis, Otero and Hanks all hit 3-point shots.
“It was a great win,” said varsity coach Michelle Coplen. “And the free throws went in this time and it was great to see since we’ve been working on that.”
The girls have two more games before they head into post season play with a home game Friday against Burns at 5:30 p.m. and then traveling to Newcastle Saturday for a 3:30 game.