After coming up a game short of a 3A West regional title a year ago, the Mountain View High School girls’ basketball team made up for lost time last weekend, clipping Bridger Valley rival Lyman by a point 40-39 in the 3A West championship game.
With the win, the Lady Buffalos head to the 3A State Tournament in Casper this weekend as the No. 1 seed out of the West; they opened the tournament Thursday against Wheatland, the No. 4 seed out of the 3A East.
At the 3A RegionalTournament in Lyman last week, Mountain View routed Powell 46-30 Thursday to open the tournament, in a game that wasn’t as close as the score might indicate. They Lady Buffs followed that Friday with a 51-32 win over Pinedale, setting up a rematch of last year’s 4A West title game, a game that Lyman won 53-48.
As is always the case when these two teams meet, the contest was a dogfight, with the Lady Buffs overcoming an eight-point deficit at the half to win 40-39.
“That weekend was a little stressful,” said MVHS head coach Jessica Moretti of the regional tournament. “Getting that No. 1 seed and winning the regional title was our goal going in, so it feels really good to be able to accomplish that.”
Lady Buffs 46, Powell 30
Against the Lady Panthers Thursday, Mountain View went to the press early, preventing Powell from getting past the half-court line for its first few possessions, while scoring on most of their own. The Lady Buffs built an insurmountable 17-4 lead in the first quarter, an d led 27-13 at the break.
“We actually pressed right off the bat in the first quarter and a little bit into the second,” Moretti explained. “We scored 17 points in that first quarter, and a lot of those points were off steals and layups. That got us off on the right foot, and definitely set the tone for the rest of the game.”
Moretti emptied her bench in the second half, as the Lady Buffs held off a late surge by Powell to claim the 46-30 win.
“It was nice that first game with Powell to be able to get all 12 girls into the game,” Moretti said. “That’s important — they’re all part of the team. They work hard in practice, so to get them a little bit of court time, that was a good game for that to happen.”
Mountain View’s Kylee Dellinger paced the team with 14 points, followed by Haily Stephens with 11; Stephens also finished with four assists and three steals.
Bailey Henstra posted a double-double, netting 10 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. Kaycee Bugas finished with just three points, but led the team with six steals.
Lady Buffs 51,
The Lady Buffs struggled to get things going early against Pinedale Friday, trailing at the break 23-19.
‘We started out slow against Pinedale — we went into halftime, we were actually down by four points,” Moretti said. “We just weren’t doing a good job on defense, that’s the bottom line.”
But after a talking-to in the locker room at halftime, Mountain View’s defense came alive in the second half, holding the Lady Wranglers to just nine points in the final two frames.
“We came out in the second half and held them [Pinedale] to nine points in the third quarter, and scoreless in the fourth,” Moretti said. “Our defense really stepped up to where it needed to be. Good defense leads to great offense, and that really happened in this case.”
Haily Stephens finished in double figures for the second straight game, netting 17 points to lead Mountain View. Kaycee Bugas followed with 12 points, to go along with three steals and a pair of assists. Sadie Mitchell and Kylee Dellinger chipped in seven points apiece.
“We scored 32 points in the second half, and Pinedale only scored nine,” Moretti said. “You create that great defense and good things happen.”
Lady Buffs 40, Lyman 39
Friday’s win over the Lady Wranglers set up a rematch of last year’s 3A west championship game, won by the lady Eagles 53-48.
It was the third meeting of the season between the two Bridger Valley teams, with the Lady Buffs winning the rubber match 40-39. The win gave Mountain View the 3A West crown and the No. 1 seed heading into this weekend’s state tournament.
“It’s always a close game, just because of the rivalry,” Moretti said of playing Lyman. “Our biggest thing going into this game wasn’t about the rivalry — it was about getting on the opposite side [of the state bracket] of Douglas to give ourselves the best situation. We still have to win one game at a time at state, but to have yourself set up to even have that opportunity was what we were going for.”
Lyman took an early 10-7 lead in the first quarter, and pushed that lead to eight by the half, 21-13.
“We got into foul trouble early — my three top scorers were on the bench for most of the second quarter,” Moretti said. “I had to go to my bench, and those players — Katie Giorgis, Emalee Bugas and Jayda Kenison — stepped up and gave us some great minutes. They did a great job on defense, they did exactly what we needed them to.”
The Lady Buffs battled back into the game in the third, cutting Lyman’s lead to two at 28-26 heading into the final frame. The fourth quarter was a battle, with the Lady Buffs able to outscore Lyman 14-11 to claim the 40-39 win.
“I told the girls at halftime we just needed to stop fouling,” Moretti said. “Lyman had 21 points at the half, and 13 of those points were free throws. And us not rebounding led to those fouls. The second half we did great. Haily [Stephens] really stepped up — she scored all 12 of her points in the second half. She stepped up with that senior leadership that needed to happen after having three fouls going into halftime.”
Senior Sadie Mitchell was Mountain View’s only other double-digit scorer, netting 10 points to go along with five rebounds, three steals and two assists. Emalee Bugas added seven points, while Kaycee Bugas, who was in foul trouble most of the game, finished with four, to go along with three steals and three assists.
Mountain View now looks to cap off its season with a strong showing at state — they opened the tournament in Casper Thursday against Wheatland, the No. 4 seed out of the 3A East. Moretti said the bottom line of this team is the girls play for each other — they’ve bought into the team mentality, and she’s hoping that leads to a good showing in the state tournament.
“They’ve really worked hard to get to this point,” she said. “It’s now about seeing it through to the end.”