ROCK SPRINGS – After going into overtime on Friday, the Rock Springs Lady Tigers made sure Head Coach Ramiro Candelaria’s stress level remained high on Saturday. In a game that was decided in the last 13 seconds, the Rock Springs Lady Tigers came away with the 4A West Regional Championship.
A win over Kelly Walsh in overtime on Friday set up the third matchup of the season between the top-ranked Natrona Fillies and the Lady Tigers. In another competitive game, fan watched 11 lead changes and nine ties between the two teams. The last lead change coming with 13 seconds to go.
The teams headed to the fourth quarter all even at 32. Maggie Justinak matched a Natrona bucket and an offensive putback by Taylor Jenkins gave Rock Springs a two-point advantage. The Fillies evened the game but Selena Cudney quickly but the Lady Tigers back in front. Natrona went on a 7-1 run over the next several minutes to jump back up by four with only a minute remaining.
The Lady Tigers looked to their senior leader Maggie Justiank with time ticking down. With 22 seconds left, Justinak lined up from behind the three-point line and pulled the ladies to within one. 43-42. The Fillies had trouble inbounding the ball and the turnover gave the Lady Tigers a shot at the win. With 15 seconds left, Ky Buell let the ball fly but came up short. As she has all tournament long, Cudney battled her way through the pack, grabbed the rebounds and put the ball off the glass giving Rock Springs the lead with 13 seconds left.
Natrona quickly advanced the ball and drew a foul. They were unable to convert giving the Lady Tigers the win,44-43, and the 4A West Regional title. Justinak led the way for Rock Springs with 16 points followed by Ky Buell who finished with 13 points. Taylor Jenkins added six points and was big on the boards again with five rebounds while Cudney finished with five points and four boards.
The Lady Tigers will open the 4A State Championships on Thursday at Casper College. They will face the Laramie Lady Plainsmen at 6 p.m. This will be the second meeting between the two teams this year with Laramie holding a win over the Lady Tigers. The Lady Plainsmen ended Rock Springs’ seven-game winning streak on Jan. 13, 53-42.
Rock Springs High School
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