Senior Amanda Cooley likes leaving the Meeteetse girls basketball team having helped to take the Lady Longhorns to a level they haven’t been at in a while.
The team finished 1-2 at the 1A West Regional last weekend in Lander, one win away from a state berth. As it was, the Lady ’Horns (14-9, 6-0 conference) still made an impact, finishing the season ranked No. 5 in the state and being the first Meeteetse girls team in 10 years to win a postseason game.
“We didn’t have the outcome we wanted, but as a team we accomplished things the Meeteetse girls haven’t done in a long time,” Cooley said. “I am so proud of each one of my teammates – they all worked so hard all season long. I couldn’t have asked for a better team.”
Teammate Bryce Salzman agreed.
“We accomplished a lot and I’m really proud of how hard everyone worked and how much everyone improved throughout the season,” she said.
The Lady ’Horns opened the tournament against Farson-Eden on Thursday and fell behind early before rallying at the half for a one-point lead.
Farson-Eden pulled away for a 43-39 win.
Miya May finished with eight points, four rebounds and seven steals. Delanie Salzman added eight points – including a pair of treys – and three rebounds. Sammy May added seven points and 12 rebounds.
“The girls came out ready to play, but our shots weren’t falling early,” coach Ernie May said. “Our defense was great throughout the game and we really tried to push the ball up the court, but we just had too many turnovers. We never got into a good flow offensively and played a little out of control.”
Meeteetse went to the line 30 times but only converted 10 free throws, uncharacteristic for the team as of late.
“It was a tough loss because we had very high expectations going into this game,” he said. “I felt the girls were prepared, but obviously as a coach I needed to do more.”
Meeteetse rebounded the following day to stay alive in the tournament, topping Ten Sleep 36-27 after trailing until the third quarter.
Abby May finished with 17 points and was 6-for-6 from the free throw line, while Lauren Shepperson added four points and nine rebounds. Shepperson and Cooley are the team’s two seniors.
“We battled until the end,” Shepperson said. “I am beyond proud of these girls. We have improved tremendously on the court and as a team.”
That improvement was on display as the win marked four-in-a-row against Ten Sleep.
“We were able to get into our offensive flow and defensively we were strong again,” coach May said. We were proud to go 4-0 (this season) against Ten Sleep. They had posted five wins in a row against us.”
That win put them into a Saturday game with the winner advancing to the state tournament. Meeteetse couldn’t stop a fourth-quarter surge by Saratoga, falling 38-26 after being outscored by eight points in the final quarter.
Salzman scored six points, and Abby and Sammy May each scored five.
“We had watched Saratoga play Cokeville the night before and realized that they were a very good team,” coach May said. “We wanted to slow down their perimeter game and make sure we ran our offense. Our defense played outstanding, limiting their top player, Whitney Bennett, to five points.”
In the fourth Meeteetse fouled to try and claw its way back in but could not take advantage of offense opportunities.
“I thought that the last game, we all played very wel. although we did not win we worked very hard,” Sammy May said. “Along with the season the team was a family and we all had the same goal. I thought that we were hard-working and put our heart into every game we played.”
Coach May, finishing up his first year at the helm, was of the same mind.
“Our girls were certainly let down by the end results. They are competitors, but they came away with a greater understanding of what it takes to get out of our regional tournament and to the state competition,” he said. “Our region is tough but looking towards next year we will have a great core group of girls and a talented group of younger girls moving up.
“As their coach, I couldn’t be prouder of our team. I learned a great deal this year and will prepare myself to lead them even further next year.”