Wheatland Lady Bulldogs win three at James Johnson Winter Classic

Wheatland High School’s Laynie Goertz dives and wrestles for a loose ball in their first game of the James Johnson Winter Classic in Cheyenne last Thursday. The Lady Bulldogs dropped that first game to Southeast High School 28-19.

CHEYENNE – Though it’s only the second week of January, the Lady Bulldogs have already played twelve games and last weekend in the James Johnson Winter Classic they won three and lost one.

Their first game was Thursday against top-ranked 1A powerhouse Southeast High School, and although they held the Lady Cyclones to their lowest point total of the year, they had trouble scoring and dropped the game 28-19.

The game was very physical from the beginning and once Southeast gained a lead and their confidence, they held strong. Although it was only a four-point deficit at the half, 15-11, the second half was all about defense for both teams and Southeast held top scorers Nichols and Graves scoreless in the second half.  

According to Lady Bulldog head coach Michelle Coplen, the girls were not confident and as the shots weren’t falling on offense, they began to second-guess shots.

The leading scorer for the game was Grace Battershell with seven points, followed by Lily Nichols and Brinley Heimsoth with three. Jadea Graves, Kacey Otero and Laynie Goertz all had two points apiece. The girls attempted 15 three-point shots and only managed to hit one. The stifling Cyclone defense forced 20 turnovers.

On Friday the Lady Bulldogs found a way to recover from the first game loss in the classic, putting together a nice combination of an inside-outside game, hitting four shots from the perimeter and being fouled in the paint, going to the line 19 times. They defeated Riverton 43-26.

“This was a very rough game,” Coplen said. “There were a lot of girls on the floor with bodies all over the place for both teams. Brinley went down and although she was okay, we may hold her out of the games (on Saturday).”

Leading scorer for the Lady Bulldogs was Lily Nichols with 16, followed by Otero, who hit three 3-pointers for nine points, Heimsoth and Graves each had six, Battershell and Analiese Matthews each had three.

Saturday would test the endurance of the young Bulldogs as they had to play two games, the first with 4A competitor Kelly Walsh. Although the game was not a run-away, the Wheatland girls played consistently on both the offensive and defensive side of the court and came away with a 49-33 victory.

The girls shot 34% from the field, outrebounded Riverton 38-29 and hit three perimeter shots. The leading scorer was Nichols who had 20 points followed by Battershell with 10, Graves had nine, Otero had six and Camryn Mickelsen had 4.

The final game of the Winter Classic was played at 3 p.m. Saturday and in a game of delays and whistles, they actually caused a delay of 30 minutes to the following game. The Lady Bulldogs played hometown favorite Cheyenne South, who they will face again next weekend, and once again, the Lady Bulldogs had a good showing both on offense, scoring 53 points and on defense, holding South to only 27 points.

The Bulldogs had three scorers in double-figures with Goertz leading the way with 15 points, Nichols with 13 points and Battershell with 12 points. Graves added seven and Otero had four to round out the scoring.

The Lady Bulldogs pounded the ball inside for most of the game, going to the free-throw line 39 times and converting 19 of those to points.

It will be a short week as the Lady Bulldogs go against Gering Thursday evening at 5:30 p.m. and then will play again at home Saturday with a rematch against Cheyenne South at 5:30 p.m.

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