CASPER – Tied at 46 with 1.4 seconds remaining in the Class 2A State Championship game, Wyoming Indian called a timeout to set up a play with the inbounds pass coming near midcourt.
Lady Chief Alex Trosper sank a desperation heave from 30 feet away to lift Wyoming Indian over the Southeast Lady Cyclones 49-46 and to claim the state championship after back-to-back runner-up finishes.
“Like I told the girls, basketball is a game full of six or 700 hundred plays, and you can’t hang it on one,” Lady Cyclone coach Jennifer Scheer said. “Maybe a ball goes in that shouldn’t have. Maybe one falls out that could have gone in. Maybe you come up with a rebound that we didn’t. Maybe we get a jump ball instead of a foul. There are too many plays to hang it on one.”
Earlier in the game, Southeast battled back from a 37-29 halftime deficit to put themselves in a position no other Class 2A team had done this season – a chance to beat Wyoming Indian.
The Lady Chiefs came into Saturday’s championship game with only one loss – to Class 3A Lyman.
“Coach (Aleta) Moss always has her teams well versed in the game of basketball,” Scheer said. “They play almost the exact opposite of what we do. They love to push the tempo and get out and run and play in space. They do that very well.”
With 1:05 left in the third quarter, senior Ellie Schmitt went 2-for-2 at the free throw line to tie the game at 40, but it wasn’t until senior Hailey Anderson put the Southeast back in front 43-42 with 2:47 left in the game courtesy of an old-fashioned 3-point play.
It was a lead which the Lady Cyclones held until the final seconds of the game.
Schmitt extended the Southeast lead to 45-42 with a minute left on the clock.
Wyoming Indian tied the game back up at 46 with 11 seconds left in the game.
The Lady Chiefs showed a full-court press on the ensuing inbounds play, resulting in a 10 second call on Southeast.
The turnover gave the ball back to Wyoming Indian with 1.4 seconds left – just enough time to get one more shot off, dashing the hopes of the Southeast faithful.
“She made the shot. End of story,” Scheer said.
Schmitt led the Lady Cyclones with 19 points and 14 rebounds, while senior Macie Murphy and Anderson added eight points each.
Prior to Saturday afternoon’s championship game, the Lady Cyclones pulled away in the second half to defeat the Shoshoni Lady Blue 37-22 in the opening round of the playoffs.
Southeast led 17-16 at the half before outscoring Shoshoni 12-1 in the third quarter.
The Lady Cyclone lead reached as many as 15 in the fourth quarter.
Anderson led Southeast with 10 points, while Schmitt added nine.
The win advanced the Lady Cyclones to a semifinal against SEWAC foe, Niobrara County.
“I thought both teams gave whatever they had for 32 minutes. That’s a true battle of old-time rivals playing old-school basketball,” Scheer said. “You just have to hang in there and do what you can and hope you are the team on top at the end of the day.”
Southeast jumped out to a 6-2 lead, but the Lady Tigers battled back, scoring eight straight to end the opening quarter.
It was a lead which Niobrara County held for the rest of the first half, but back-to-back buckets from Schmitt and junior Morgan Ekwall put the Lady Cyclones briefly back in front.
The Lady Tigers ended the third quarter on an 6-0 spurt to regain the lead heading into the final eight minutes of play.
Schmitt scored four straight points in the first minute of the final quarter to put the Lady Cyclones on top for good.
Southeast limited the Lady Tigers to 27 percent shooting for the game.
“That has been our bread and butter,” Scheer said of her team’s defense. “Always has been, always will be. We have to be able to play defense in order to create offense. When we do that, we are alright.”
Niobrara County made one last push in the final minute, cutting a 36-33 lead down to one but, despite Southeast going 1-of-6 from the free-throw line in the final minute, they managed to hang on for the win to advance to the championship game.
Schmitt led the team with 13 points, while Schmick added eight.
The Lady Cyclones finished the season with an 18-7 record.
“That’s a senior class that when they came in, and honestly, four days into practice, didn’t know what a pick and roll was,” Scheer said. “Four years later, they are playing for a state title. That’ll tell you the amount of character they have. The amount of work ethic they have. The amount of heart and try they have. Those six have been through it all. Without one of them, we wouldn’t be here.”
The six have four trophies to their name – two runners-up, a third place and a consolation championship.
“I don’t know many senior classes in Wyoming that can best that,” Scheer said.