Feb 24, 2014 - By Bruce Tippets, Sports EditorBack-to-back wins against Powell and Cody over the weekend locked up the regular season Class 3-A West boys title for the Lander Tigers.
Lander took down Powell 56-40 on Friday night, then won a convincing 51-37 victory vs. Cody on Saturday evening.
Cody had edged Lander in their first meeting in Park County.
"The first time that we played them, we had way too many turnovers," Lander forward Casey Winger said. "This time, we kept our heads a lot better. The fans were important this time. We didn't let Cody get to us this time. We played a good, full game."
Winger said the victory was special for everybody in the program.
"It has been awhile since Lander has been conference champions," Winger said. "It feels good."
Lander is now 12-1 in conference play.
"Cody is really good," Winger said. "The seniors have played against them since the seventh-grade. They have always been tough games. It's fun to play them."
The Tigers play Pinedale this Saturday in Lander to end the regular season.
Lander 51, Cody 37
The first period ended on a Winger's field goal at the buzzer to put Lander ahead
At the break, the Tigers were in the lead at 18-13.
In the third quarter, Lander extended the cushion for good.
"It's always important to get off to a good start, but it's more important on how you finish the game," Winger said. "That second half when we came out strong in the third quarter that was probably the most important thing for us this game."
Cooxooeii Black and Jaxon Hedges were warriors, battling for every rebound.
"Cooxooeii always plays well for us," Winger said. "He carries the team inside. He gets a lot of rebounds along with Jaxon. That is what we need from them every game."
Black notched 16 points and Winger ended with 15.
Lander 56, Powell 40
The Tigers installed a new wrinkle in their defense to begin the weekend vs. Powell, using a full-court press.
Lander's defense was all the over the Panthers, and the Tigers took an 11-2 lead.
"We switched up on them defensively," Lander coach Terry Hopkin said.
Lander also surprised Powell by using a zone defense.
"That's unheard of from us," Hopkin said. "We just wanted to see how they would react to it."
Powell looked confused the entire first half.
"I thought that every one of our players played a great defensive game," Hopkin said. "They understood our game plan and knew what to do."
A big part of that plan was to keep Powell's Kalie Smith in check.
In the first meeting, Smith poured in 30 points, but he scored just six points this time around.
"Powell is a good ball team, and they score a lot of points," Hopkin said. "Smith had been averaging 25 points per game. I thought that our kids did a great job of knowing where he was at all times."
Powell never crawled back into the game after the slow start in the first two periods.
"I thought that we handled press better," Hopkin said. "We are seeing the floor better. We are not making the unforced errors."
Winger and Black had 13 points apiece.
Lander 51, Cody 37
LANDER 12 6 13 20 -- 51
CODY 9 4 9 27 -- 37
Lander -- Jess Oldham 1 6-8 8, Jaxon Hedges 2 6-13 10, Hunter Bregar 0 2-4 2, Cooxooeii Black 6 4-6 16, Casey Winger 7 1-3 15. Totals 16 19-34 51
Lander 56, Powell 40
Powell -- Kalie Smith 2 2-4 6, Hayden Cragoe 1 (1) 4-5 9, Cory Heny 2 0-2 4,
Zach Heny (3) 0-0 9, Garrett Michael 1 0-0 2, Carter Baxter 1 (1) 3-4 8. Totals 9 (5) 9-13 40.
Lander -- Marvin Aragon 2 0-0 4, Trey Massey 0 1-1 1, Kobey Simpson 0 2-2 2, Jess Oldham 4 0-0 8, Jaxon Hedges 4 3-4 11, Hunter Bregar 2 0-0 4, Cooxooeii Black 6 1-2 13, Casey Winger 5 3-3 13. Totals 23 10-14 56.
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