WYOMING – The Wrangler boys’ basketball team took on 3A West rivals Powell and Lovell on Friday and Saturday, Feb. 5 and 6. Pinedale’s young varsity squad squared off against two starting lineups consisting mostly of seniors, with one junior starting for Powell.
Powell proved a formidable foe and entered the match as the second seed in the 3A Northwest Quadrant. The Panthers won the game, 73-32. Despite the odds stacked against them, the Wranglers battled on through each difficult quarter.
Saturday pitted Pinedale against Lovell. The Bulldogs won, 63-41, yet the Wranglers were determined not to throw in the towel and put up a stiff resistance in the second half.
“Powell is a senior-led team that we expect to see contending for the state title this year,” said head coach Marcus Helland. “It was good for our young squad to see the level of play and speed required to get there. We came out pretty flat and timid against Lovell on Saturday, but responded well at halftime. We came out much more aggressive and played a solid second half. We look forward to playing them again at home in two weeks.”
The Panthers dominated the first and second quarter and established a significant lead by halftime.
Freshman Josh Gosar put Pinedale on the scoreboard with a 3-pointer early in the first quarter. Sophomore Colby Bailey shot in a 2-pointer. Bailey and Gosar put on the defensive pressure at the end of the quarter to force Powell to turn over the ball.
Freshman Bridger Kaiser shot in a pair of 2-pointers during the second quarter. Junior Gaige Zook played a persistent defense, catching a string of rebounds and a steal before halftime. Pressure by freshman Jayce Ramage and sophomore Michael Hosler caused the Panthers to turn the ball over.
Powell continued its run into the third quarter, scoring 21 points to 11 from Pinedale. Gosar shot in three 2-pointers and a 3-pointer. Kaiser rounded the tally out with a 2-pointer. On defense, Zook and junior Jackson Harber forced turnover early in the quarter.
Freshman Owen McMillen stepped up in the final quarter, scoring a pair of 2-pointers and catching two steals before the final buzzer sounded.
Gosar ended the game with 18 points, Kaiser six, McMillen four, with Bailey and Zook both at two points.
The Bulldogs surged ahead in the first two quarters, finishing the first half in the lead, 29-10. Zook and Hosler both managed deep shots from outside the perimeter in the first quarter.
Refusing to call it quits, Pinedale put up a fight in the second half and kept up with their opponent point for point until the final buzzer sounded.
Hosler opened the third quarter with a steal and shot in a 2-pointer and 3-pointer. McMillen swept in and forced a turnover, putting Hosler back in a position to score two more points. Ramage and Gosar ended the quarter with 2-pointers.
McMillen snatched another steal in the fourth quarter. Bailey and Gosar followed up with 2-pointers. Bailey caught an offensive rebound and sunk his next 2-pointer.
Gosar snatched a steal and made a breakaway run across the court for a layup. Zook made a three-point play when he caught a foul on a 2-pointer and shot in a free throw.
The Wranglers finished the match with a point spread across six players. Gosar scored 14 points, Hosler 10, Bailey and Zook six, Ramage three and Harber two.