WHEATLAND – Kade Preuit, Khayla Otero and Kaesha Davis all walked away with postseason awards after both the girls and boys teams made a Wyoming State High School Basketball Tournament appearance this past March.
Preuit who was the leading scorer for his Bulldog cage team this year posed a match-up problem for opposing teams who could not decide if they wanted to cover him close on the three-point arc and chance the fact of him surgically dissecting defenses with his slashing penetrations or vice versa.
Preuit, or “Chippy” as he is affectionately referred to by his peers and coaches had a stellar junior season, gifted in football, basketball, track and baseball confesses that basketball is his favorite sport.
As a result of his hard-nosed play on the court he was awarded first team All-Conference for the 3A east region. In addition, he had the admiration of conference coaches who also selected him as the player of the year for the 3A east region.
Preuit whose humility outweighs his talent was reluctant to comment on his awards other than to say that it felt good. He also credited his teammates and coaching staff for helping him get to where he is.
This was Preuit’s second All-Conference award in two years. This year with Wyoming’s Mr. Basketball, Luke Anderson lost to graduation, Preuit stepped up his game in rebounds, assists and scoring. He averaged 19.6 ppg this season.
Preuit is a field general both on the football field and the basketball court and his quiet confidence commands respect from both his teammates and his coaches.
“Both of the sports are a lot in your head,” he said. “You have to stay mentally stable and can’t get in your own head to become an enemy. Coaching is also a key. I like playing for Mick, he’s a coach I really look up to and he’s a good coach.”
“Kade had a great season with our team,” varsity coach Mick Cochran said. “He made everyone around him better. He led 3A in scoring was also near the top in assists and steals. Also, Kade is also a stellar student at WHS with many talents including playing the piano and the guitar. As we look to next year, we have great expectations for him. He has some areas he can improve and become even better. We will need his leadership and example moving forward. Congratulations to Kade, he is a special talent and we are blessed to work with him.”
Otero, a senior guard for the Lady Bulldogs led the team in scoring, helped lead her team to a Wyoming State Consolation Championship and was selected to both the 3A southeastern All-Conference team and to the Wyoming All-State team.
“I was pretty excited and it’s just nice to know that other people notice your hard work,” Otero said. “Also that more people see it than just your school and your community, because it’s a thing that other coaches vote on as well.”
Otero was a heady player who managed to remain cool under the constant pressure from the well-known pressing defenses of the 3A conference. She added an outside shooting arsenal this season to her quick penetrating abilities on offense, but what stood out for a lot of opposing coaches this year was her cat-like defensive skills.
When in a man-to-man defense she was never one to play off the ball and give the offense any space and she not only came up with many steals, but also caused many bad passes with her pressure cooker style.
It was a different team this year from her junior year when basketball phenom Danielle Brow was playing. The tempo changed due to the personnel and Otero knew when to hold back and look at the set-up game rather than a full bolt to the hole in every trip down the court.
“Pushing the ball is not always the best thing for different teams,” Otero said. “I definitely think that with our group of girls this year, especially with a young team, it really helped with the learning experience to slow it down and teach so they understand why we do what we do.”
Otero is a player always conscious about her actions and what others may see in her.
“It’s always been pretty easy for me to just step up and do what is needed for me to do,” she said. “Especially if called upon to do something from my coaches or the younger players. Especially my younger sister (Kacey Otero also played on varsity this year). She really looks up to me and I wanted to be the best example for her that I could be.”
Otero credits a lot of her success to her family.
“I really have a huge family,” she said. “They’ve all always been there for me, especially my mom who is such a hard worker and been mainly a single mom for most of all my life and she really beats herself up when she can’t come to one of our events. If Kacey and I wanted to go a camp, or go play in different places, she has done her best to make it happen.
Davis is the quick senior guard for the Lady Bulldogs that fit perfectly as the other half of Michelle Coplen’s backcourt tandem. She was the second leading scorer and was second on the team in assists.
She was one of the senior leaders that led the Lady Dogs to a Consolation State Championship this year and was awarded All-Conference for the 3A eastern conference. Davis who was primarily in the shadow of Danielle Brow last year came into her own and developed her game from not only being a long three point shooter, but had a way of snaking her way into the lane and drawing fouls. It was her final four of four free throws in the state tournament that sealed the championship for the team.
“When I first heard I was voted all-conference I thought it was awesome and I was really excited,” Davis said. “It just proves that all the work that I put in over the years has just paid off. Even though I was surprised, I was really hoping that I’d get it. Also, the voting came from other coaches, so if other teams thought I was a threat, that means a lot.”
Davis worked tirelessly over the summer and before school started each day.
“The best part of my year was becoming a leader,” she said. “It was really fun because I became more confident this year so I could attack the seams to be the attacker rather than having the defense just coming out to attack you.”
Davis along with Preuit and Otero are all quiet leaders, going forth with their confidence and how they play the game. Not a lot of talk, but they let their games do the talking.
“When I would get frustrated, it was mainly because of letting myself down,” Davis said. “Like if I had an off shooting day, that kind of stuff would frustrate me.”
The Lady Bulldogs walked off the court the final time as winners. Only a few teams each year get to feel what that’s like.
“It was so rewarding that we won our very last game of our high school career,” she said. “There’s only three teams that finish off with a win, and I was really happy that we were one of them. All of us wanted that game so badly, especially because we had already lost to them three times. I think what won it for us was that we really came to terms with the fact that it was our last game and we were not going to lose.”
Davis and Otero are not quite ready to hang up the basketball sneakers and plan on playing together next season at the University of Wyoming. If not for the school team as walk-ons, then perhaps together again for an intramural team.
“Khayla and Kaesha have had a strong passion for basketball,” said their varsity basketball coach Michelle Coplen. “Their dedication and determination for the sport pushed them and their teammates to be better every day. Khayla has been a four-year starter for WHS and has made a deep impact on our program. Kaesha's love for the game has kept her improving daily. These two have had the most competitiveness on the team and it pushed them to get where we got at the end of the season.”