Jan. 25—CHEYENNE — Kysar Jolley made a sizable leap in terms of both playing time and skill between his sophomore and junior seasons.
That helped him crack the starting lineup for Cheyenne East's state runner-up squad last winter. Jolley wasn't satisfied with having one solid season, though. He wanted more, and knew more was going to be asked of him this season.
He went to the gym with his father nearly every day. Jolley also was a fixture at East's open gyms and summer tournaments because he felt like he had to be better if the Thunderbirds were going to be better this season.
"He really made a big jump and showed a lot of progress between his sophomore year and his junior year," East coach Rusty Horsley said. "From his junior year to this year, he's made almost as big of a jump. He's developed some really good post moves and is shooting it well.
"He also put in a ton of time to improve his outside shooting. That's not quite where we want it yet, but it's getting there."
Jolley averaged 18 points and 12.5 rebounds to help East pick up wins over Laramie and Cheyenne South last week. Those efforts also earned him Prep Athlete of the Week honors from WyoSports' Cheyenne staff.
"I'm playing with a lot more confidence and feel a lot better than I did this time last year," Jolley said. "The team and the coaches trust me, so that really helps."
Jolley didn't start playing basketball until he was in sixth grade. Wrestling was his preferred sport before that, but he eventually got burned out on it. A growth spurt also factored into his decision to ditch the singlet and headgear in favor of basketball.
"Even though I started playing basketball later, I felt like I was doing a lot better in basketball after my eighth grade year, so I decided to stick with it," Jolley said. "My dad wrestled, both of my grandpas wrestled. I'm pretty much the first basketball player in my family.
"It's worked out pretty well."
Jolley — a 6-foot-6 forward — averaged 9.1 points and 9.2 rebounds per game last season. His rebounding average was third-best in Class 4A. The 23 rebounds he snared against South were one off the T-Birds' single-game record, and were the highest single-game total in 4A by five.
This season, Jolley is averaging 9.8 points and 8.3 rebounds. His rebounding average is tied for fourth as conference play starts to heat up.
Jolley would like to make a run at East's single-game rebounding record. Horsley expects him to have a chance now that senior forward Colter McAnelly is sidelined for the remainder of the season after breaking the radius in his right arm. McAnelly had 21 boards in a game earlier this season, and his 9.1 rebounds per night currently rank third in 4A.
"Those two shared rebounding responsibilities really well, but (Jolley) is going to have to take that load over," Horsley said. "He's more than capable of that."
In Jolley's mind, rebounding comes down to effort and desire. A player has to want to corral the rebound and then make a genuine effort to go do it. However, there's also a science to it.
"Corner shots are going to go long off the rim," Jolley said. "If Drew (Jackson) shoots the ball, he's hitting the back of the rim, so you have to try to position yourself for that. You have to know your teammates, how they shoot the ball and where it's going."
As polished as Jolley's post moves have become, he'd still like to be a threat to score away from the basket. That will stretch defenses and provide more space for his teammates to roam.
He is just 4-for-22 (18%) from behind the 3-point line this season, including a 1-of-4 mark last week. He made 8 of 22 attempts all last season.
"My 3-point shooting isn't where it needs to be," Jolley said. "I had a rough start and just couldn't get one to fall at the beginning of the season. I think things are starting to turn around."
Others recognized for their efforts include:
n Madisyn Baillie, girls basketball, Cheyenne Central: The senior averaged 12.5 points to help the Lady Indians go 1-1 on the week.
n Marik Cummings, boys indoor track, East: The senior won both the 55- and 200-meter dashes at the Gillette Invitational. His time of 6.5 seconds in the 55 set a school record. Cummings went 23.52 seconds in the 200.
n Ryan Fornstrom and Dalton Schaefer, boys basketball, Pine Bluffs: Fornstrom, a senior, averaged 15 points, seven assists and 4.5 steals to help the Hornets go 2-0 on the week.
Schaefer, also a senior, averaged 15.5 points in those contests.
n Jessica Hoffman, girls basketball, Pine Bluffs: The sophomore forward averaged 13 points to help the Lady Hornets go 1-1 on the week.
n CharlieMarie Jackson, girls wrestling, Burns-Pine Bluffs: The junior went 3-0 with three pins to win the 155-pound title at the Lander Invitational.
n D.J. Kaur, girls basketball, Burns: The senior forward averaged 13.7 points across three games to help the Lady Broncs go 2-1 on the week.
n Boden Liljedahl, girls basketball, East: The senior guard averaged 16.5 points to help the Lady Thunderbirds go 2-0.
n Drew Jackson and Nathan Mirich, boys basketball, East: Jackson, a junior, averaged 18.5 points to help the T-Birds beat Laramie and Cheyenne South.
Mirich, also a junior, averaged 18 points in those games.
n Brinkley Lewis and Averie Perriton, girls indoor track and field, Central: Lewis, a senior, won pole vault at the Kevin Salverson Invitational by clearing 11 feet. That is both a school and Central Fieldhouse record.
Perriton, also a senior, won the 55-meter hurdles (9.63 seconds), 1,600 (6:11.87) and high jump (4 feet, 10 inches). She also placed second in the 800 (2:40.70).
n Abby Vroman, girls wrestling, Central: The sophomore went 2-0 with a pin and a technical fall to win the 115-pound championship at the Loveland Girls Invitational.
Jeremiah Johnke is the WyoSports editor. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 307-633-3137. Follow him on Twitter at @jjohnke.