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WIHS morphs into college-size gym

Nov 1, 2012 - By Randy Tucker, Sports Writer

ETHETE -- The changes to the playing surface were obvious. The three-point line was extended 9 inches from the familiar 19-foot-9-inch line of high school regulations to meet the collegiate mark of 20-6. A small half-circle sat beneath the rim on each end of the floor, the implementation of a new rule that negates any charging call if a defender's foot is inside the ring.

The shot clocks mounted just below each scoreboard were a testament to perhaps the biggest difference between prep and collegiate basketball, with each resetting to 35 seconds on each change of possession.

Aside from those differences and the monitors mounted on the press tables along each side of the floor, it was just basketball as usual in the "House that Al Built" on the campus of Wyoming Indian High School.

The Chiefs hosted the Wyoming Cowboys and Fort Lewis Skyhawks in the season opener for both schools on Halloween night in Ethete.

The holiday may have been partly responsible for the smaller crowd of 1,100 that filled barely a third of the Elk Redman Gym, but the play was spirited and enjoyed by those in attendance.

The behind the scenes work necessary to conduct a University of Wyoming athletic event 225 miles from the friendly confines of Laramie required intense coordination from UW personnel and the staff at Wyoming Indian.

Phil Wille, the associate athletic director of event management for the University of Wyoming, was quick to praise the staff and facilities at Ethete.

"This is a fantastic gym," Wille said. "The staff here is excellent. Their maintenance people are so good that I sent our people home a day early. Setup was incredibly easy." Part of the setup involved bringing UW ticketing equipment and staff and security personnel to Wyoming Indian.

The process began a month in advance of the game and Wille explained why the Wyoming Indian site was chosen for this initial outreach game.

"There is a lot of history in this building and this program," Wille said. "The Chiefs have one of the best programs in the state and when we were looking for a site to play, their level of excellence was key. Wyoming Indian provided volunteer staff to make the game a success, and school administrators worked closely with UW in advance of the event.

"It's their show," Wyoming Indian Elementary School principal Owen St. Clair said.

The UW team worked with St. Clair's students earlier in the day and toured the elementary school at Mill Creek.

Fremont County School District 14 Superintendent Michelle Hoffman praised the hard work her staff and the UW team did in preparation for the event.

"We had additional security in place and our resource officer," Hoffman said. "Matt Lee brought in a bomb dog provided by Homeland Security to check the building. It was just for practice and wasn't required, but it was a good addition."

From the view of the fan, the play was excellent and Fort Lewis gave the Cowboys everything they wanted in the first half of play. When Torrington's Jason McManamen hit three treys, the fans from Riverton and Lander were quick to recognize him from games played by the Wolverines and Tigers a season ago.

Wille put the game in perspective with one final comment.

"It's good for the university," Wille said. "If you're a Cowboy fan, it's all right here."

UW intends to continue the outreach games in the future using additional funding provided by Nike's N7 program.

The Wyoming wrestling team will dual with Air Force on Feb. 21, 2013, in Cheyenne in another outreach event.

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