GREEN RIVER – On Thursday, one of the biggest rivalries in the state will be renewed as Rock Springs will take on Green River for the first time this season on the basketball court.
The Green River Lady Wolves and Rock Springs Lady Tigers will start the action at Green River High School at 5:30 p.m. with the Tigers and Wolves to follow at 7:30 p.m.
Lady Wolves vs Lady Tigers
Both teams enter Thursday’s game with winning records and state hopes alive and well. The Lady Tigers enter with the best overall record in the 4A West Conference at 9-2 but split to open conference play losing to Evanston. The Lady Wolves are 7-5 overall also splitting to open conference play. Green River lost last time out as they fell to the top 3A team in the state Douglas in a makeup game. The game went back-and-forth the entire way with it being decided in the final seconds.
Rock Springs is third in the 4A in scoring averaging 58 points per game. The Lady Wolves are sixth putting in 52.3 points per game. The Lady Tigers are second-best in the conference only giving up 43.6 a game while Green River is giving up 49 points per contest.
Three of the top four scorers in the 4A West will be playing on Thursday led by Maggie Justinak. She currently leads the entire 4A conference averaging 18 points per game. Ky Buell has been deadly from the outside for Rock Springs and is averaging 14.5 per contest.
Green River is led by Taylor Stoeger who is third in the 4A West in scoring hitting 14.6 per game. Stoeger is also among the top passers and rebounders in the 4A West. She is averaging right around seven rebounds a game and leads the 4A West in assists at 3.6 per contest. Expect to see a lot of good passing as the top six assist leaders in the 4A West play for Green River or Rock Springs. Behind Stoeger, Lady Tiger Sarye Thomas is second, Buell is third, Justinak is fourth, Lady Wolves Andri Dewey is fifth and Madelyn Heiser is sixth.
Tigers vs Wolves
Both teams enter Thursday’s game with identical 6-5 records but Rock Springs opened conference play 2-0 while the Wolves opened 1-1. Rock Springs is second in 4A in scoring with 63.3 points per game while the Wolves are right behind in third averaging 58.3 points a contest. Defensively, Rock Springs is giving up 61 points a game while Green River gives up 58.2 points a game.
Individually, the Tigers are led by Trevor Hautala who leads the 4A West in scoring at over 20 points a game. He is also leading the 4A West in assists with 4.5 per game. Tiger Kelby Kramer is fourth in scoring with 12.4 and is leading the entire 4A conference in rebounding at 12.2 boards a game. Kael Mikkelsen has done the small things for Rock Springs as he is currently in the top ten in both rebounding, steals and assists. Tiger Head Coach Jason Buell spoke about the importance of every player stepping up in big positions.
“I am very proud of how the team has responded to the highly competitive and hard practices we have had every day since Christmas break,” he explained. “I think the competitive environment has really developed into a deep bench. We have great chemistry right now and they are developing a strong trust for one another. I couldn’t be more proud of the boys to this point and look forward to the contributions of everyone wearing a tiger uniform. We are always looking for the next man up and the past weekend we got solid contributions from everyone. We will look to keep that going this week. It should be a lot of fun.”
Green River has two players averaging in double figures led by Devin Love who is putting in 11.4 a game. Love is also in the top 10 in assists with 2.3 a game. Cameron Morris has had several big games in the past two weeks and is averaging 10.4 points a game. Chase Stoeger is in the top ten in rebounding leading the team with almost five a game while Gavin Heiser is among the top passers in the 4A West conference.
Coach Buell summed up the excitement of a rivalry game.
“Rivalry games are always a very fun and important part of the season. They create a tournament time atmosphere which helps us prepare to play in highly intense and stressful situations,” Buell said. “It can certainly bring out the best in teams (and sometimes the worst) so it is a fantastic learning experience and one that as a student-athlete you should want to be a part of.”
Buell said there is so much more to the experience than just what happens on the court.
“In my high school days I played in one of the highest rated rivalry games in the west and that experience is some of my best high school memories, so it is really important to me that the boys enjoy every minute of this week and game,” he continued. “We want them to appreciate the support they get from their classmates, friends, family, and community and respect their opponents. The best way to do that is to leave everything they have out on the court. I expect that they will do just that because at the end of the day the only thing we can control is “ourselves” and how we represent the school and program.”
Rock Springs High School
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