Top leaders in 3A clash on the hardcourt

Left photo: Sometimes it takes an army. The Lady Bulldogs tried to keep D1 prospect Allyson Fertig off the boards. Pictured in front of Fertig are from left: Kacey Otero, Hadley Paisley and Jadea Graves. Right photo: Grace Battershell who gives up over a foot in height to Douglas’ Allyson Fertig shows no fear as she penetrates the lane.



WHEATLAND – The hype of seeing the No. 3 and No. 2 teams in the Wyoming state rankings lived up to its billing Dec. 17. At least in the first quarter.
It’s the game every 3A team dreads as the Douglas Bearcats come into town touting their D1 prospect 6’4” center, Alyssa Fertig. All roads seem to point to U-Dub for her after graduation, but she has to get through a senior season where everyone wants to get a good look at her.
The Lady Bulldogs got a very good look at Fertig as Douglas was looking to tame upstart Wheatland who were on their heels in the state rankings. They got a look at her in the first quarter when they stayed close to biting Bearcat heels, and they got a good look at her in the fourth quarter as the Douglas coach Cody Helenbolt kept her in the game with a 40-point lead. She was not pulled until there were 2:25 seconds left in the fourth quarter. Some situations just naturally set coaches up for karma.
In the first quarter of play, the Bulldogs seemed unaffected by huge presence camped in the lane and although Fertig scored 9 of their 13 quarter points, the Bulldogs were scoring points of their own. As a team. Whereas Douglas has a go-to scorer and saw only two girls score in that quarter, five Wheatland players contributed, getting their names in the scoring column including Miranda Hanks and Kacey Otero who both hit from 3-point range.
The Bulldogs, behind 13-12 not only startled the Bearcats, but woke them from their slumber. In trying to contain the monster presence in the post, the perimeter became vulnerable in the second quarter and Douglas heated up from the outside and also began to run a monster break, taking advantage of the rebounding strength of Fertig. The Bearcats also stepped up their defense and contained the Dogs, holding them to two points in the second quarter while raining down shots from the outside.
The Bearcats put the game away in their blistering second quarter and held a 36-14 lead at the half. The third quarter was the flip-side of that “45” and were up 49-16.
The final score was 58-19 and the Dogs scored more in the first quarter than they did the rest of the game. The silver lining in the cloud, if there is one to be found is that 4-0 Douglas has not been held under 60 points all year, but the Dogs accomplished that feat.
Fertig got almost half of their team’s points which is normal, and from the looks of things, it takes her all four quarters to do so.
For the Bulldogs, Grace Battershell, Khayla Otero and Kacey Otero led the team in scoring with four points apiece. Miranda Hanks had three points, and Alyssa Matthews and Rory Anderson each had two points.
“We played really good that first half,” said varsity coach Michelle Copelan. “We just needed to get the ball in the hoop and get more shooting. We kind of fell down on offense so we need to figure out new ways to get that going.”
The rematch in Douglas will be February 11. Circle the wagons and your calendars.
The Bulldogs traveled to Cheyenne South last Saturday and played the 4A eighth-ranked Bisons on their home tundra. In another challenge, the Bulldogs remained in the game for all four quarters and fell just a bit short at the end as they lost the game 53-40.
Wheatland heads into the break 3-2 and will not play again until Jan. 15 when they will be traveling to Buffalo for a 5:30 game.

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