Feb 26, 2014 - By Randy Tucker, Sports WriterThe Class 2-A West Regional often is considered the best high school basketball tournament in Wyoming, including the state championships the following weekend in Casper.
This year's tournament is no exception, with favorites and darkhorses abounding in another strong field in both the boys and girls divisions.
On the boys side of the bracket everyone looks to Wyoming Indian as the odds-on favorite to win the tournament, but Greybull and Big Piney may have something to say about that before the championship trophy is presented Saturday afternoon at Wolverine Gym in Riverton
Wyoming Indian enters the tournament with the best record in Class 2-A. The Chiefs only loss came in Sublette County in a foul plagued two-point loss to Big Piney. Since then the Chiefs have avenged that blemish on their schedule with a seven-point win over the Punchers at home.
Greybull also played the Chiefs well, losing by five in Ethete.
Wyoming Indian opens play against fourth-seeded Thermopolis at 3:30 p.m. Thursday at Riverton High School. The meeting will be the first between the two schools this season. A win by the Chiefs could pit them against county rival Wind River for the fourth time this season -- that is, if Wind River can get back second-seeded Rocky Mountain from the Northwest. Wind River fell 59-50 to Rocky early in the season, but the Cougars are the most unpredictable team in the tournament with a high-powered but inconsistent offense.
No one shoots better than the Cougars from beyond the 3-point arc, but they've been streaking all season, missing treys on multiple attempts one night then shooting lights out on the other. Their 18-of-28 showing from the 3-point line against Shoshoni this season is the best percentage by any team in the tournament. The Cougars open at CWC, also at 3:30 pm.
Big Piney and Greybull are favored to meet again in the semifinals Friday.
Three Fremont County girls teams open tournament play on Thursday. Shoshoni takes on top-seeded and once-beaten Lovell at 5:30 pm. at Riverton High School. The Wranglers have perhaps the biggest challenge in the opening round.
Wind River and Wyoming Indian finished second and third in the Southwest 2-A and face their counterparts from the Northwest, Greybull and Thermopolis.
Both the Chiefs and Cougars have the capability of winning it all in this tournament. Wyoming Indian handed top seeded Kemmerer their only loss of the season at Ethete two weeks ago and had Lovell on the ropes with a double-digit lead in the second half before fading at home.
Wind River dropped an eight-point game to Greybull on the opening day of the season but was short handed then and has improved substantially since. A win could pit the Cougars against Lovell in a very interesting game.
If the Chiefs prevail over Thermopolis they probably will take on Kemmerer for the third time this season. Wyoming Indian opens the tournament at 2 p.m. at Central Wyoming College while Wind River plays Greybull at 5:30 on the same Rustler floor.
Class 2-A West regional basketball
tournament opening round schedule
Game 1 -- Wyoming Indian (No. 1 seed/Southwest) vs. Thermopolis (No. 4 seed/Northwest), 3:30 p.m. Wolverine Gym.
Game 3 -- Rocky Mountain (No. 2 seed/Northwest) vs. Wind River (No. 3 seed/Southwest) 3:30 p.m. CWC.
Game 5 -- Big Piney (No. 2 seed/Southwest) vs. Lovell (No. 3 seed/Northwest) 7 p.m. CWC.
Game 7 -- Greybull (No. 1 seed/Northwest) vs. Kemmerer (No. 4 seed/Southwest) 7 p.m. Wolverine Gym.
Game 2 -- Kemmerer (No. 1 seed/Southwest) vs. Rocky Mountain (No. 4 seed/Northwest) 2 p.m. Wolverine Gym.
Game 4 -- Thermopolis (No. 2 seed/Northwest) vs. Wyoming Indian (No. 3 seed/Southwest) 2 p.m. CWC.
Game 6 -- Wind River (No. 2 seed/Southwest) vs. Greybull (No. 4 seed/Southwest) 5:30 p.m. CWC
Game 8 -- Lovell (No. 1 seed/Northwest) vs. Shoshoni (No. 4 seed/Southwest) 5:30 p.m. Wolverine Gym.
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