Lady Rangers split weekend quadrant home stand

The Kemmerer High School girls’ basketball team welcomed a pair of quadrant rivals to its home floor over the weekend, losing to Wyoming Indian Friday 33-26, but bouncing back Saturday with a 43-26 win over St. Stephens.

“I think we got back to our identity as a defensive team,” said KHS head coach Wade Fiscus. “I felt really good about our performance against Wyoming Indian, except for the fact that we shot 20% from the field. If we had the confidence shooting the ball [against Wyoming Indian] that we had against St. Stephens, we’re on the other side of that score.”

The Lady Rangers (13-6, 3-2 in 2A SW Quadrant) are home again this weekend, with a game against quadrant rival Big Piney (8-10, 2-3 in 2A SW Quadrant) Friday and Shoshoni (9-11, 1-4 in 2A NW Quadrant) Saturday.

“We have Big Piney Friday to finish out our quadrant play — that’s going to be a key game for us,” Fiscus said. “Fortunately, it’s here. Big Piney is pretty fast and gritty, and defensively, we have to pay attention to what happens on the inside — they have a post player that’s a matchup problem for us. Saturday, we have Shoshoni, which will give us a really good look at the other side of the region, see where we fit with the other four teams in our region. A good precursor, going into the regional tournament.”

“Defensively, I really like the way we play,” Fiscus added. “We’re right where we need to be in that aspect. If we can turn the corner on the confidence in the shooting department — and we did against St. Stephens — we’ll be all right. I hope we can do that against Big Piney this week. That’s the main crux of it — we’re where we need to be, we just need to be able to put the ball in the hole more consistently.”

Wyoming Indian 33, Lady Rangers 26

The Lady Rangers opened the weekend Friday against a familiar foe in Wyoming Indian (17-4, 6-0 in 2A SW Quadrant), having lost a nailbiter on the road last month, 35-32.

The rematch was just as competitive, with Wyoming Indian once again coming out on top, 33-26.

“Overall, we caused Wyoming Indian to turn the ball over more than we did — we did a lot of the right things, we just couldn’t get the ball to fall down in the basket as often as we wanted,” Fiscus said. “We talked about our mindset going into that game, because even without our leading scorer, we’re still in the middle of everything. I told the girls, ‘We’ve come a long way, just to let it slip away from us right now.’”

Senior Sydney Neria paced the Lady Rangers with seven points, to go along with a game-high 11 rebounds. Tyler Thatcher followed with six points, six rebounds and four steals, while Micalyn Carlson and Natasha Martinez finished with five points apiece.

“I asked the same question I did the first time we lost to them, ‘Can you beat those girls?’ Fiscus said. “Their answer was, ‘Yes, we can.’ I think they recognize that part of it, so it will come.”

Lady Rangers 43,

St. Stephens 26

Shaking off Friday’s disappointing loss, the Lady Rangers rebounded with a phenomenal effort against St. Stephens (1-13, 0-6 in 2A SW Quadrant) Saturday, relying on a balanced scoring attack and solid defense to end the weekend on a winning note, 43-26.

“I saw some really good things from people in the St. Stephens game — we hit five 3-pointers in that game, and I don’t think we’ve hit five of those in five games,” Fiscus said. “That helps us, because then people can’t sit in a zone. It was nice to see the girls hit some of those.”

After a slow start by both teams, the Lady Rangers created some separation in the second quarter, and led 25-16 at the break. Kemmerer outscored the Lady Eagles 18-10 in the second half to close out the weekend with a 43-26 win.

Three Lady Rangers finished in double figures, led by 11 points each from Sydney Neria and Ella Thatcher; Thatcher had the hot hand from behind the arc, hitting three of the team’s five 3-pointers.

“We’re doing the right things defensively, it’s just a matter of having confidence on the other side of the ball,” Fiscus said. “Sydney has been pretty steady for us since we lost Janae [Skidmore] — I see some aggression from her offensively, especially in the St. Stephens game, that I haven’t seen before.”

Natasha Martinez finished with 10 points, to go along with six steals, while Tyler Thatcher had nine points, and also finished with six steals.

“The scoring in the St. Stephens game was very balanced, with four girls right around double figures,” Fiscus said. “That game proved that we can put it together when we need to. It was interesting — that was a game where the people that did well in the first half, the others took over in the second half. Tyler scored all of her points in the first half, and Natasha scored most of her points in the second half. It was a nice balance of things.”

Fiscus was also pleased with the play from bench players Kalyn Lockwood, Olivia Preshaw and Micalyn Carlson, who made the most of their minutes on the floor.

“I always want to get a chance to get those younger kids in, because it helps them develop a little bit of desire and hunger to be out there on the court,” Fiscus said. “And sometimes we need to rest those other girls, so it’s good to see them get in there and do some good things.”