State Basketball

Lady Rangers 1-2 at 2A State Basketball Tournament

Win over Rocky Mountain; loss to Wind River in consolation final


After last year’s quick exit at the 2A State Basketball Tournament, the returning members of the Kemmerer High School girls’ basketball team vowed that this year, the Lady Rangers would be playing on Saturday at the Ford Wyoming Center.

Goal achieved. After losing a 36-31 heartbreaker to Pine Bluffs Thursday to open the tournament, the Lady Rangers guaranteed themselves a game on the final day with a 46-26 win Friday over Rocky Mountain. Playing for the Consolation Championship Saturday against Wind River, Kemmerer came up just short, 55-49.

“We feel pretty good about the weekend — the hard part about going to state and being competitive is you feel like you missed opportunities,” said KHS head coach Phil Thatcher. “That’s a good thing. I think something that’s been hard for a lot of Kemmerer teams to do is to feel like there’s more than just getting to State. At times, I think we get satisfied with that up here, so we as a team made a goal at the beginning of the year to play in one of the Saturday games at State — just to feel like we belonged there. These girls did that.”

The Lady Rangers will lose three seniors to graduation — Tyler Thatcher, Sophie Archibald and Micalyn Carlson.

“Those girls will be hard to replace,” Thatcher said. “You lose a point guard and two posts — actually, Sophie Archibald played wherever we needed her, she’s such a versatile girl. But we bring back three seniors next year in Janae Skidmore, Natasha Martinez and Ella Thatcher. That’s a good core for us to build around — they all had good years, and all three are very deserving of some postseason recognition. I’m excited about Hadlee Wood — our lone sophomore — she had some big minutes for us this year, and she’ll be a great contributor next year. We have some talented freshmen, as well, so I’m excited about next year. I think we’ll come in and be competitive, and I think we should have similar goals.”

As for Thatcher himself — who returned to coaching basketball this season after almost two decades — this season was one he won’t soon forget.

“I was telling the girls, this was probably one of my most enjoyable seasons as a head coach,” Thatcher said. “I’ve been a head coach of several different teams and sports, and this crew — even when bad things happened — they didn’t turn on each other. They didn’t turn on me. They just kept working to fix whatever needed to be fixed. Because they did that, it allowed me to just keep coaching, and coming up with adjustments. It was fun. And my assistant — Abby Whatcott — has done just a fantastic job. She came in with energy, and a lot of knowledge. We all just kind of clicked, and it all turned out really well.”

Pine Bluffs 36, Lady Rangers 31

The Lady Rangers opened the tournament Thursday against Pine Bluffs (14-12), with the Hornets holding a slim 14-10 lead at the break. Kemmerer kept it close in the second half, but was unable to gain any ground, losing 36-31.

“We shot pretty poorly in the