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Tigers get state berth
Lander's Lucas Watkins (52), Derek Peil (12) and Zach Sanders (00) slowed down Cody's Brady Gulde Saturday afternoon in a must-win game in the Class 3-A West regional basketball tournament at Jackson. Photo by Bruce Tippets

Tigers get state berth with Saturday win

Mar 4, 2012 - By Bruce Tippets, Sports Editor

JACKSON -- The pressure was on Lander Valley High School at the Class 3-A West regional boys basketball tournament Saturday, and the Tigers delivered a pair of victories to clinch the No. 3 seed for the state tournament.

The Tigers didn't get into high gear until the second half of the first game vs. Cody, rolling to a 72-51 victory. Cody had a 26-25 lead at halftime.

"It was a little shaky going into halftime down by one," said LVHS senior Zach Sanders. "It was all or nothing. We came out and played our game."

Sanders finished the pressure game with 15 points. Lucas Watkins came up with 17 ,points and Austin Roberts had 12 points. LVHS only committed nine turnovers.

"We had six of those turnovers in the first half," Sanders said. "We can do better."

The Tigers did do better in the second game Saturday beating the Powell Panthers 62-54 in the third-place game. LVHS had just eight turnovers.

"It just feels awesome," said Roberts who scored game-high honors vs. Powell with 22 points. "We knew that we needed the first one for state. It was really important to get a couple of wins."

In one of the semifinals on Friday night, the Star Valley Braves connected for 10 3-pointers in a 58-44 win over the Tigers. LVHS opened the double-elimination tournament beating Mountain View 54-40 on Thursday. Lyman upset Powell in the other semifinal, and the Panthers escaped with an overtime victory vs. Jackson to punch a ticket to state in the consolation game.

"I was pretty surprised we were playing Powell," Roberts said.

Watkins added 10 more points in the eight point win vs. the top-seeded Panthers.

"With Tanner Simpson being out with his injury, I knew that I needed to step up in scoring," Roberts said. "I knew that I could score and I figured it was about time that I stepped up. I just wanted to have some fun at regionals."

The Tigers open the Class 3-A state tournament Wednesday at Casper. State officials moved up the tournament by one day because Casper College will be hosting the Region IX women's junior college tournament at Thunderbird Gym starting Saturday.

"I think that it's a little strange," Sanders said about the schedule change. "It won't have any effect on how we play."

Lander 72, Cody 51

(Saturday)

The Tigers didn't act like their season was on the line in the first half as Zac Osborne (two) and Jordan Crane hit 3-pointers for a 18-11 lead.

Cody came back to take the advantage 26-25 before Roberts and Watkins put LVHS ahead for good.

The Tigers ended the game 15-21 from the free-throw line.

Star Valley 58, LVHS 44

(Semifinals)

The big momentum shift in the semifinals came at the end of the first period when the Braves went on a 14-0 run and finished the quarter on back-to-back 3-pointers from Wyatt Shinaver and Ridge Hillyard for a 22-11 lead.

Watkins ended the second quarter by dunking one home to pull LVHS within 31-24. Star Valley got hot again from the outside as Kohl Battleson had two straight 3-pointers for a 43-29 cushion in the third stanza.

In the final stages of the fourth, Roberts hit a 3-pointer, and Sanders got a bucket to pull LVHS within 52-44. The Braves knocked in six consecutive free throws to clinch a trip to the regional title game.

Watkins yanked in 10 rebounds and had 17 points. Watkins was the only LVHS player to reach double figures. Hillyard had 14 points to led the way for SVHS.

Lander 62, Powell 54

LVHS 15 12 18 17 -- 62

POWELL 17 14 9 14 -- 54

Lander -- Zach Sanders 3 0-0 6, Austin Roberts 4 (4) 2-3 22, Derek Peil 2 2-4 4, Zac Osborne 4 2-4 10, Lucas Watkins 4 2-4 10, Casey Winger 2 (1) 2-2 9, Jordan Care 2 0-1 4. Totals 16 (7) 9-16 62.

Powell -- Marshall McArthur 2 3-4 7, Cooper Wise 4 (1) 0-0 11, Brady Shaefer 3 (2) 1-1 13, Tyler Sandal 1 (1) 0-0 5, Justin Lynn 1 1-2 3, Josh Cragoe 4 2-2 10, Vince Sleep 1 1-2 3. Totals 16 (4) 8-11 62.

Lander 72, Cody 51

LVHS 15 10 23 24 -- 72

CHS 9 17 14 11 -- 51

Lander -- Zach Sanders 3 (1) 6-6 15, Austin Roberts 3 (2) 0-0 12, Derek Peil 2 1-4 5, Zac Osborne 1 (2) 1-2 9, Lucas Watkins 7 3-3 17, Jordan Crane (1) 0-0 3, Casey Winger (1) 4-4 7, Adam Shipley 1 0-0 2, Derrick Spriggs 1 0-2 2. Totals 22 (7) 15-21 71

Cody -- Nik Schmidt 2 (5) 8-11 20, Brady Gulde 5 8-11 18, Shad Moir 1 0-0 2, Brandon Hinze (1) 0-0 3, Ryan Nieters 0 5-6 5, Jackson Hult (1) 0-0 3. Totals 12 (7) 14-19 51,

Star Valley 58, LVHS 44

SVHS 22 9 9 18 -- 58

LVHS 11 13 5 15 -- 44

Star Valley -- Tyler Eagley 1 (1) 0-1 5, Kohl Battleson 1 (3) 0-0 11, Dalton Passey 1 (2) 0-0 8, Pahl Schawb 1 1-1 3, Ridge Hillyard 2 (2) 4-4 14, Connor Robinson 0 1-2 1, David Livingston 0 6-6 6, Wyatt Shinaver 1 (2) 2-2 10. Totals 7 (10) 14-18 58.

Lander -- Zach Sanders 1 (1) 1-3 6, Austin Roberts (1) 1- 2 4, Derek Peil 1 (1) 3-4 8, Zac Osborne (2) 0-0 6, Lucas Watkins 7 3-6 17, Jordan Crane 1 0-0 2, Derrick Spriggs 0 1-3 1. Totals 10 (5) 9-18 44.

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