County has compelling hoops stories everywhere you look

Feb 7, 2012 By Randy Tucker

What better way to spend the long winter months than in and around the basketball courts across Fremont County?

Another exceptional season in our exceptional part of the world comes to an end in just a few short weeks on the floor of the Casper Events Center.

There have been many talented athletic families to grace the fields and floors of our fair county, but perhaps none have excelled on the basketball court as well as John Soundingsides of Wyoming Indian, and Tyson Lone Bear and Jesse Brown of Wind River.

These three talented young men are all closely related and all take Dr. Naismith's game very seriously.

If you are a basketball fan you, have this weekend and the next, along with (in my opinion) Wyoming's best tournament the week after in Riverton to watch these young men display their skills. We don't get players of this skill level to grace our community very often.

Soundingsides is simply the best 3-point shooter you will ever find on a high school floor, anywhere. I asked Wyoming Indian head coach Craig Ferris to count how many 3-pointers John has rained in during his four-year career with the Chiefs a few weeks ago. Not surprisingly, it's taking some time to calculate.

From my own records I guessed Soundingsides hit at least 400 shots from beyond the arc, Ferris thought it might be even more than that. When we get the final total after the state tournament next month you can expect a story,

Lone Bear is a complete player, with range, speed and the size to compete well at the next level. You don't find that combination often anywhere in Wyoming.

Brown has perhaps the quickest first step and best overall sense of the game of any player in the state. As Jesse goes, so go the Wind River Cougars.

The Chiefs and Cougars tangle for the third time a week from Friday in Pavillion. With capacity crowds expected you might want to get there early or you could find yourself parking closer in Kinnear.

Rising Wranglers

Not all programs compete at the level of the Cougars and Chiefs. Some have suffered "down" years recently and have to rebuild once proud programs.

The Wranglers in Shoshoni are in that classification. Head coach Max Mills is building the team back to the level that once made the program one of the best in the state. His three seniors, Grayson Medicine Cloud, Jordan Whitener and Nick Wright, play their hearts out every night, and the sophomores and juniors behind them are all the better for it.

On the subject of the Wranglers, coach Dan Martin's girls have quietly grown to one of the powers in Class 2-A. Shoshoni is tied in the 2-A Southwest with coach Aleta Moss's always powerful Lady Chiefs. With just three seniors, Coralee Spratt, Tennell Parrish and Hailey Pince and a bevy of talented underclassmen, the Lady Blue will be tough for many years to come.

Youth movement

Waiting in the wings are the Wind River Cougar girls. This year's team upset the Chiefs at Ethete for their first regular season win over their county rivals in nearly two decades. Two close losses to the Shoshoni Wranglers leave coach Justin Walker's ladies clamoring for another shot at Shoshoni and a trip to Casper later this month.

Perhaps the most intriguing fact surrounding the girls from Ethete, Pavillion and Shoshoni is their youth. Anneshia Hill is Wyoming Indian's uncontested floor leader. Stretching to make her listed 5-4 height, Hill is a tenacious, fearless player whose presence improves those around her.

Dancing at Shoshoni

During last Saturday's game between the Shoshoni and Kemmerer boys the gym speakers blared out "YMCA" by the Village People, and a chorus line of the Wrangler girls jumped to their feet and started to dance out the words to the song. The Kemmerer girls on the opposite side jumped up and joined in. "The Macarena" played a few moments later, and they were back at it again.

In an era when school spirit is just a memory at some high schools, it lives on at Shoshoni.

Five and only five

It takes more than spirit to play a full 32-minute basketball game with no substitutions. There just isn't anyone to sub in for the "Mighty Five" of the Dubois Lady Rams.

Dubois had seven girls briefly this year, but injury has reduced the squad to just five players. In an era when parents often become incensed maniacs over the playing time or lack of it their child receives, the solution is easy in the High Country. You just don't substitute anyone, because there is no one to replace the five on the floor. Whether you're on the starting five or one of the only five, it takes pride, guts and endurance to finish a season laden with the challenges that Dubois has faced.

Here's to a fantastic end to another memorable season on the hardwood of Fremont County.

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