Pine Bluffs Post - Serving all of Eastern Laramie County since 1908

By Jimmie Earls
Pine Bluffs Post Editor 

Heartbreak in Casper

 

Shianne Fornstrom

Pine Bluffs' Hunter Thompson (center) charges Wind River's Jarick Trumble on his way to the net. The Hornets lost the state semi-final game against the Cougars in overtime, 69-66. The loss sent the Hornets to the third-place game, where they lost to Lovell, 75-64.

Expectations were high for the Pine Bluffs Hornets this season. After rolling unbeaten through the regular season, the defending 2A state champions took out every opponent during the 2A East Regional Tournament in Gillette. So when the team hit Casper last Thursday, many were expecting much of the same. Apparently nobody told the Wind River Cougars or Lovell Bulldogs.

When you're thet top dog, everybody is gunning for you and wants to be the first to bring you down. That's what Wind River did last Friday.

The Cougars were the first to do what no one else could do for almost a year - beat the Hornets. But first, Pine got thier last win of the season over Rocky Mountain last Thursday.

Rocky Mountain

Both teams came out hard in the first quarter, knotting the score at 16 all.

The Hornets surged ahead in the second, posting 24 more points to the Grizzlies'11 to take a 41-27 lead at the break. The push was led by Kyle Steger, who scored 19 points in the first half, coming off six three-pointers and one free throw.

The third quarter saw Pine pad their lead to 53-34.

The Grizzlies roared back in the fourth to outscore PIne 17-15 in the frame, but Pine's lead was too much to overcome and the Hornets took the game, 67-51.

Steger led Pine scoring with 21 points, while Hunter Thompson posted a double-double with 17 points and 11 rebounds. Haize Fornstrom scored 12 points, while Tucker Norman had nine, Alex Graves had four and Wyatt Fornstrom and Chris Fornstrom had two each.

The Rocky Mountain match was Pine's 50th straight win, tying th Wyoming state record. The Hornets would go for the record the next day against Wind River.

Wind River

In a rematch of last year's championship game, the Cougars were clearly out for revenge, but like any predator, they move in slowly for the kill.

Pine took an early 8-0 lead, including three's by Thompson and Haize Fornstrom. Halfway through the first, Steger added a three-pointer of his own to move Pine to a 14-2 lead. The Hornets led 18-7 after one.

The Cougars clawed their way back in the second, 16-12 in the frame, to cut Pine's lead to 30-23 at halftime.

Both teams posted 12 points in the third quarter, but the fourth is where the Cougars pounced.

Wind River kept chipping away at the deficit, inching closing and closer as time ran out. When the clock struck all zeros, the score was tied at 57-57. Here we go into overtime.

The score was close in the early going of OT, but Wind River's Jackson Clair hit a three to give the Cougars a 62-59 lead. With Haize Fornstrom out of the game on fouls, Wind River was able to hold the Hornets back and hang on for the overtime win, handing the Pine boys their first loss since Dec. 18, 2015.

Thompson got his second double-double of the tourney with 30 points and 11 rebounds. Haize Fornstrom netted 27 points, while Norman had four, Andrew Fornstrom had three and Steger had two.

The loss to Wind River sent the Hornets into the third place match against the Lovell Bulldogs. If Pine was to salvage any kind of placement at state, they would have to get past Lovell. But the Hornets were still reeling from the previous day's defeat, and the Bulldogs smelled blood in the water.

Pine took an early 10-4 lead and edged Lovell 17-16 in the first quarter. But the Bulldogs bit back, taking the lead by outpacing Pine 19-10 in the second to lead 35-27 at halftime.

The Bulldogs doubled up Pine in the third quarter 18-9 to pad their lead even more to 53-36 at the end of the third.

The fourth quarter was when the Hornets made a slight run, scoring 28 points to Lovell's 22 but the gap was to wide to close in the final quarter and the Hornets dropped thier second game in a row, losing 75-64 to end the season at 26-2.

Thompson had 35 points to lead the Hornets, followed by Norman with 11, Steger with 10, Haize Fornstrom had six and Chris Fornstrom has two.

Despite a rough showing at state, the Hornets still had a season they could be proud of. Hornet head coach Will Gray summed up his feelings after the tournament was over.

"First off, winning 50 games in a row is something the kids should be very proud of. It is something that doesn't happen every day. I hope they all enjoyed the last two years, I know I did.

The state tournament didn't end how we wanted it to, but at the end of the day these kids should all be proud of what they accomplished. The kids shouldn't let the last three minutes of regulation define who they are. Many of these kids are going to go on and do amazing things in their lifetimes. Losing in the semifinals shouldn't be how they gauge the success of their high school careers. I am very appreciative of what they have done for me.

The program loses seven seniors who will be very hard to replace. However, there is a tremendous amount of talent coming back. Things will be different, but that doesn't have to mean they can't be successful. The key is going to be getting in the gym and the weight room to work on the skills we are not good at. The returning kids do not need to replace anybody, they need to be the best version of themselves. The talent is in the room, but we have to get to work to get better.

We hope everyone who has followed the boys and girls programs for the last few years had an enjoyable experience, and we want to take a moment to thank everyone who has put in long hours on the road to support these kids. We appreciate it very much. We have the best support system in the state, we hope you all continue to follow us. We will do everything we can to make our community proud."

 

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