Northern Wyoming Daily News - Serving the Big Horn Basin for over 100 years

By Alex Kuhn
Sports Editor 

Lady Warriors drop season's final game against Lyman 72-54

 

March 13, 2018

DAILY NEWS/ Alex Kuhn

Lady Warriors, left to right, Casey Wassum, Jaycee Page and Saige Jones share their final moments of their Worland basketball careers together during Worland's 72-54 loss in the 3A State tournament fifth-place game to Lyman at Kelly Walsh High School Saturday morning.

CASPER - The Worland Lady Warriors basketball season ended with a loss as they fell to the Lyman Lady Eagles 72-54 in the 3A State tournament fifth-place game Saturday morning at Kelly Walsh High School.

The strength of the Lady Eagles is playing physical and their All-State players, cousins McKinley Bradshaw and McKailey Bradshaw. The game plan for the Lady Warriors was to play physical, stop the Bradshaws, force the other Lyman players to step up.

"We talked coming in that it was going to be physical and in playoff basketball, there aren't as many fouls called. We had to be strong with the basketball and be physical, we'd seen their games before and knew they were a physical, athletic team and for the most part, I thought we handled it pretty well," said Hofmann.

Unfortunately for the Lady Warriors, the other Lady Eagles stepped up. For the game, Lyman hit seven 3-pointers, two were by McKinley Bradshaw, but the other five were from role players that typically do not hit those shots. Take away those 15 points, and it is a one possession game.

Lyman was also effective at using offensive spurts to build their lead. One example of this was toward the end of the first half with the Lady Warriors trailing 34-29, the Lady Eagles went on a 10-0 run in under 35 seconds.

"They have eight or nine girls that are 5-foot-9 or 5-foot-10 they're just really long and athletic. We handled their press for a while but their spurtability, to coin a college announcer Clark Kellogg, is what they're good at. They allow you to get some deep stuff, allow you to do some things but they know at some point they're going to get a 6-0, 7-0 or 9-0 run. That's what happened to us and we just couldn't get out of it," said Hofmann.

Added Jaycee Page about guarding McKinley Bradshaw, "It was tough because she's so good. Our game plan was to shut those two down and if the other players scored on us, they scored on us. But their other girls stepped up and hit shots that we didn't see them hit before."

Senior Casey Wassum ended her Lady Warrior basketball career scoring a team and career-high 22 points in the loss; she was also named to the 3A All-State and 3A East All-Conference teams.

"There was nothing to lose and the last game to play for this team at state basketball. I went into the game thinking since it's my last time I'm going to give it everything I got. It didn't matter if my legs were dead or I couldn't move tomorrow," said Wassum about her performance.

The Lady Warriors' other senior leaders, Saige Jones (selected to All-Conference) scored nine and pulled down six rebounds and Jacyee Page scored six in their final games in Lady Warrior jerseys.

"We knew it was our last game and I just wanted to have fun and enjoy our last game together," said Saige Jones.

Ending the season with a loss was by no means the goal but what the Lady Warriors accomplished this season was impressive, which included a fifth-consecutive state tournament bid, after losing a lot of their offensive firepower from the previous season.

Things started slowly but as the season progressed the Lady Warriors got better and ended the year as a top-five defense.

"I thought we started slow and offensively we weren't really good, but [assistant] coach Lissy [Hughes] and I looked back on it and we lost something like 80 to 90 percent of our offense from last year. In hindsight, we should have spent more time on offense than defense.

"For the season we finished fourth or fifth in defensive points allowed which is pretty good for a team that was sub-.500 going into the postseason. I thought we were really good defensively this year and that's a credit to the girls and their ability to adjust to what we wanted them to do. I didn't do a good enough job getting across what we wanted to do offensively. Certainly something we need to improve on in the future," said Hofmann.

If not for the senior leadership of Jones, Page and Wassum, this team could have struggled mightily. But the three seniors were an encouraging voice on and off the court and helped the younger players find their footing and confidence at the varsity level.

"They did a great job of learning from the seniors last year, buying into the program and it was a joy to be around them. Really all of the girls, even in practices – I've had teams where you love them on game days but can't stand them in practice. That was not the case with this group, they were outstanding in practices, outstanding in games, brought a good energy and effort all the time. I was really proud of them and thought they did a great job leading by example all year," said Hofmann about his seniors.

Being a part of Lady Warrior basketball for one of the program's best stretches in its history will be a point of pride for the three seniors. Not only for the achievements and accolades racked up during their careers but the bond with teammates and coaches as well.

"Everything," said Jones when asked what it meant being a part of the Lady Warrior basketball program. "All the players I've gotten to play with and the coaches, it has just been a fun time. Just to keep working. They're all so talented and we had underclassmen and freshmen who were right there. They just need to keeping working and keep with it."

Added Wassum, "Being a part of so many different teams has meant so much. Each class of seniors before me set a great example and I wanted to be like them and lead my team like them. I hope I was able to have an impact on the other girls and they'll be able to carry that on in years to come."

The Lady Warriors head to the 3A West conference next season and join the 3A Northwest division with Lander, Lovell and third-place finishers Powell.

"Our quad will be difficult with Powell and Lovell. Lander is up and coming and playing better. Our quad will certainly be difficult, obviously, our goal is to win the quad, regionals and then state. Lyman is going to be tough again, Mountain View was a top program this year and Pinedale looks to be up and coming as well. It's going to be difficult but it will be a nice challenge. There's good basketball being played in the state both east and west sides," said Hofmann.

Helping the Lady Warriors navigate their transition to the 3A West will be the likes of McKenna Butte, Kate Wassum, a healthy BreAnna Parra, Payton McEndree, Ellyse Russell, Tymberlynn Crippen and Darla Hernandez.

Next season's team should have a good blend of youth and experience but some areas that Hofmann wants his team to focus on in the offseason are shooting and rebounding.

"We've got to rebound the basketball, we didn't rebound it real well at times this year, at times we did OK, but that has to be a strength. We have to do a better job rebounding then get better offensively. We have to get quicker on our shots, sometimes we take a little long getting rid of the shot. There are things offensively and defensively that we can work on but I'm really looking forward to the future, we have a good group coming up," said Hofmann.

When the 2018-19 season kicks off, Douglas, Lyman, Buffalo and Powell will more than likely be the teams most will be talking about but if Worland can harness their athleticism along with improving on offense and their rebounding, they can be a dark horse contender. And as Page told them in the locker room after the Lyman loss, "To remember what this feels like [the loss to Lyman]. Remember what to do and use this as motivation to go kick butt next year," she said.

 
 

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