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By Alex Kuhn
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Healthy for the first time this season Pioneers pick up first win since December


February 13, 2018

DAILY NEWS/ Tracie Mitchell

Pioneer Corey Rice (left) is honored during senior night before the start of Friday's game vs. Dubois at Ten Sleep High School. Standing with Rice are his mother Dani Rice, brother Brian Rice, youngest brother Ivan Rice and father Dan Rice.

TEN SLEEP - Adversity has been a part of the Ten Sleep Pioneers basketball 2017-18 campaign all season long. Having only seven players on the roster was tough enough, then the team was hit with the injury-bug that caused them to forfeit a few games in January. Jump ahead a few weeks and the Pioneers are back in business with a healthy roster.

Friday, with all seven players suiting up, the Pioneers grabbed their first win of 2018 since December 2017 by defeating the Dubois Rams 72-51.

"It helps that we had Brayden [Fettig] back in action, that made a big difference and things went much better for us. We shot a decent free-throw percentage but our rebounding wasn't good as a team. It was our best game as far as turnovers, we only had eight for the whole game. Granted Dubois doesn't put a lot of pressure on the perimeter, but we'll take it any day," said TSHS boys basketball coach Ben Schwarz.

Fettig, a junior and the Pioneers leading perimeter scorer at 15.3 points per game, returned for his first action of 2018 to score 22 points vs. Dubois. Sophomore big Zane Taylor led all scorers with 29 points and grabbed 13 rebounds. Senior guard Corey Rice added 14 points to go with three steals and two assists.

Friday's game vs. Dubois was also senior night for the Pioneers lone senior, in Rice. In Schwarz's mind, senior night paired with the return of Fettig are part of the reasons that the energy level was so high.

He said, "Energy was a really big deal tonight [Friday]. A couple factors there, Corey's senior night brings quite a bit of emotion and obviously having Brayden back for the first time since the break is huge. Those two factors gave us some energy."

"Having Brayden out for so long required the freshmen to step to the plate and that showed tonight. They did all the intangibles very well, they played very physical and didn't turn the ball over. The three freshmen combined, accounted for three of our turnovers. Then having another guard there you could see how relaxed they were all game," added Schwarz.

Holding slim leads over the Rams in the first and second quarters, only to surrender it in the third, the Pioneers put together one of their best quarter of basketball this season, outscoring Dubois 33-8 in the fourth.

Using defense the Pioneers kept the Rams outside shooters from getting into a rhythm. To Schwarz, their closeouts were far better in the final quarter of play than they had been the previous three. "Defensively, we still had trouble closing out at the 3-point line. We let some streaky shooters get how but in the fourth quarter we did a nice job of taking that away," he said.

Added Schwarz, "In most our games this season we started well in the first, the second we hold our own, the third we collapse and the fourth we might bring it a little closer. Against Dubois, we started slow and gave up the too many offensive rebounds 25-24. The third quarter we were outscored by four but in the fourth, we outscored them 33-8. The determination and will to win really came through and our X-factors for the game were determination and poise."

While the Pioneers did follow up Friday's win with an 81-41 loss to No. 5 St. Stephens, finally getting one in the win column could prove to be a big enough momentum builder with the postseason just around the corner.

"They've been kicked around so much this season and we finally had it where we were toe-to-toe and we're going to come out here and put it on you. I was really glad to see them preserve through that. They could have let it slip after the third, instead we stepped on the throttle and took care of business," said Schwarz.

The Pioneers final two games of the regular season will see them travel to Cowley for a Friday 7 p.m. matchup against the Rocky Mountain JV; then Saturday they host the No. 1-ranked Burlington Huskies at 7 p.m.


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