Lady T-Birds top Green River to advance to title game

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Robert Munoz, Wyoming Tribune-Eagle, Cheyenne
·6 min read
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Mar. 13—CASPER — It was an all-around team effort for the Cheyenne East girls during Friday night's semifinals.

Nine different Lady Thunderbirds scored at least one point to help top-seeded East grab a 62-50 win over Green River to advance to today's Class 4A state title game.

"To make a run like we have so far you have to have that depth," East coach Eric Westling said. "All year long it's been different kids stepping up and the same thing happened (Friday night), I'm just super proud of these kids."

East (19-2) started the contest by going on a quick 5-0 run before the Wolves answered and tied the game at 5-5 with 4 minutes, 55 seconds remaining with a Daryn Macy 3-pointer. The T-Birds followed by going on a 9-0 run, forcing Green River to call a timeout with 2 minutes, 33 seconds left in the first quarter.

Megan Counts scored a bucket out of the timeout for the Wolves and scored seven more points in the final few minutes of the quarter to give Green River a little bit of momentum going into the second period. Counts finished the first by going 5-for-5 from the floor with 11 points.

Sophomore Boden Liljedahl found junior Darcy Jardine inside for a 30-20 East lead with 2:47 remaining in the first half, which was East's biggest lead to that point and the T-Birds carried a 31-22 lead into the break. Eight different players scored for East in the first half.

"That's why we've been so successful this year," senior Ashley Marshall said. "We have so much depth on our team, and everyone can play whenever it's needed."

The T-Birds were also finding success turning turnovers into easy baskets. They finished the contest with 11 steals and 25 points off turnovers. When someone would grab a steal, it seemed like they knew where to make the extra pass for the easy points.

"We kept our energy up and we kept playing as hard as we could," freshman Bradie Schlabs said. "In the second half, we were more together and we were playing more as a team."

Green River (16-6) didn't go away easily, however. The Wolves continued to make East make plays to put the game away. East's lead was down to only five points four times in the fourth quarter, but the T-Birds went 12-for-13 from the free-throw line — including 11-of-12 from Liljedahl — in the final period to ice the game and go to their third consecutive state championship (except for 2020, of course).

The T-Birds will play Cody at 3:30 p.m. today as they search for their first title since 2017.

"We just have to focus on the little things," Westling said. "It's a big moment, but it's the little things in basketball that win you games. That's what we've been going by this tournament and we're just going to have to focus on all of the box-outs, all the screens and all the small things that get us to where we need to be."

EAST 62, GREEN RIVER 50

Cheyenne East......17 14 13 18 — 62

Green River...........14 8 14 14 — 50

Cheyenne East: R. Jacobsen 2-5 0-0 4, E. Jacobsen 3-7 2-2 9, Schlabs 4-7 0-0 8, Alvarado 5-5 1-3 11, Jardine 2-5 0-0 4, Liljedahl 3-11 10-11 18, Marshall 3-4 0-0 6, Walsh 0-1 1-2 1. Totals: 22-45 15-20 62.

Green River: Strauss 1-4 0-0 3, Macy 1-6, 0-0 3, Counts 9-14 2-4 22, Heiser 2-7 2-2 8, Angelovich 2-4 2-2 6, Wilson 0-3 0-0 0, Crowder 3-5 2-2 8. Totals: 18-43 8-10 50.

3-pointers: CE 3-12 (E. Jacobsen 1-2, Liljedahl 2-7, Schlabs 0-3); GR 6-16 (Strauss 1-3, Macy 1-5, Counts 2-3, Heiser 2-5). Rebounds: CE 29 (Marshall 5, three with 4); GR 24 (Crowder 8). Assists: CE 8 (Alvarado 3, Schlabs 3); GR 7 (Macy 3). Turnovers: CE 9 (Liljedahl 3); GR 17 (Macy 6). Blocks: CE 3 (Marshall 2); GR 4 (Macy 2). Steals: CE 11 (Liljedahl 5); GR 2. Fouls: CE 14; GR 17.

CHEYENNE EAST 42 GREEN RIVER 30CASPER — A switched was flipped following the first half for the Cheyenne East girls Friday morning.

After going into the break tied 13-13 with Star Valley, the Lady Thunderbirds outscored the Lady Braves 29-17 in the second half and 10-4 in the final frame to put the game away and secure a 42-30 victory in the quarterfinals of the Class 4A state tournament.

"It was a mentality shift," Westling said about the difference after halftime. "We have a lot of kids that haven't been in this building in a competitive environment ... but that third quarter we were able to settle down and play our style of basketball and lock into who we are."

The score was tied following the opening frame before East took a 13-11 advantage with 5:50 to play in the second when sophomore Elyisiana Fonseca grabbed an offensive rebound off a missed free throw and finished it. Neither team scored for the remainder of the half until Whitnee Halle got a shot to fall with five seconds remaining. The basket tied the game for the Braves to send it to the break.

East took a 20-18 lead courtesy of a Liljedahl 3 with just under five minutes remaining in the third period, and the T-Birds steadily built on its advantage to advance to the semifinals.

Liljedahl scored a game-high 19 points for East and Schlabs grabbed six steals.

"During halftime we said 'This isn't us, we need to get it together,' and that's what really motivated us," Liljedahl said. "We just needed to get after it and show them who we really were."

EAST 42, STAR VALLEY 30

Star Valley.............9 4 13 4 — 30

Cheyenne East......9 4 19 10 — 42

Star Valley: Thomson 0-1 0-0 0, Mline 0-2 1-2 1, Battleson 1-6 0-0 3, Hale 6-6 0-1 13, Brog 1-9 0-0 2, Jenkins 0-1 0-0 0, Butler 4-13 2-6 11. Totals: 12-40 3-9 30

Cheyenne East: R. Jacobsen 0-2 0-0 0, Schlabs 1-8 0-6 4, E. Jacobsen 2-4 0-0 4, Alvarado 2-8 2-2 6, Jardine 2-5 0-0 4, Fonseca 2-2 1-2 5, Liljedahl 5-7 6-7 19. Totals: 14-36 11-15 42.

3-pointers: SV 3-17 (Butler 1-1,Hale 1-1, Battleson 1-5, Thomson 0-1, Mline 0-1, Jenkins 0-1, Blog 0-7); CE 3-13 (Liljedahl 3-5, R. Jacobsen 0-1, Schlabs 0-6, E. Jacobsen 0-1). Rebounds: SV 28 (Brog 6, Hale 6); CE 27 (Three with 4). Assists: SV 7 (Brog 3); CE 5 (Schlabs 3). Turnovers: SV 19 (Battleson 6); CE: 13 (E. Jacobsen 3). Blocks: SV 1 (Battleson); CE: 1 (R. Jacobsen); Steals: SV 5 (Battleson 2); CE: 13 (Schlabs 6). Total fouls: SV 15; CE: 13

Robert Munoz is a writer for WyoSports. He can be reached @rmunoz@wyosports.net. Follow him on Twitter @rmunoz307.