Cougars escape in Overtime

    The Class 2-A West Regional boys’ bracket lived up to its advanced billing with an exciting opening round of basketball, capped by an overtime battle between the top-ranked Wind River Cougars out of the Northwest and the fourth-seeded Kemmerer Rangers from the Southwest.

    Opening round upsets between top and bottom seeds often occur at the state tournament but rarely at the regional level.

    Jaycee Herbert led the Cougars with 24 points – {h/t Randy Tucker}

    These two teams didn’t meet during the regular season but they shared a couple of common opponents making the matchup even more interesting. The Rangers chalked up a win over Wyoming Indian at home and Wind River lost to the Chiefs at Ethete. St. Stephen’s beat Kemmerer at the Mission, but the Cougars rolled over the Eagles at the same venue. So much for common opponents giving you an idea of how a game will play out.


    It was a physical contest from the opening tip with four Cougars eventually fouling out and one Ranger.

    Braydon Leonhardt set up a play – {h/t Randy Tucker}

    Wind River head coach Justin Walker has played his bench heavily throughout the season and it paid off in this game.

    Kemmerer has an outstanding one-two punch in seniors Wyatt Paternel and 6-4 post, Jake Kampman, they finished with 24 and 30 points respectively, and set the stage early combining for 15 of Kemmerer’s 17 points in the opening period.

    Wind River countered with six players scoring in the first quarter, a trend that remained throughout the contest.

    Wambli Romero drove to the basket – {h/t Randy Tucker}

    A couple of weeks ago, Wylie Shearer tallied 37 points in a game against Shoshoni. The word spread throughout the west and since then he’s faced double teams with the big man from the other squad fronting him down low, with backside help. The strategy worked for Kemmerer head coach Matt Stewart with Shearer hitting just three baskets and tallying six total points, but his final shot was an important one as he drove full court down the middle of the court to knot the game at 81 with less than a minute to play in overtime.

    Wind River’s scoring came on the play of guards Braydon Leonhardt and Jaycee Herbert who finished with 19 and 27 points respectively.

    Leonhardt did the damage in regulation, fouling out in the overtime.

    Rowdy Shearer put up a shot – {h/t Randy Tucker}

    Herbert, easily the quickest player on the floor used his blazing track speed to lead the Cougars in the final period of regulation and the overtime with 15 points in the final 12 minutes of the game. The most important coming on a game-winning cut to the basket with just four seconds remaining in the game.

    Kemmerer hit 28 of 41 free throws in the game as a result of Shearer, Leonhardt, Hunter Walker, and Rowdy Shearer fouling out.

    Before Rowdy exited the game, he battled the taller Kemmerer lineup well with his 6-5 frame in the paint and tallied 11 points.

    Hunter Walker looked to pass – {h/t Randy Tucker}

    Wambli Romero had nine on a crucial 3-point shot and three baskets off angle drives out of the Cougars half-court set.

    For Kemmerer, it was Kampman 30, Peternel 24, and Chase Bowen with a quiet 17 points that included an impressive nine of 10 from the free throw line.

    Wind River faces Greybull at 4:30 in a semi-final at Wolverine Gym while Kemmerer has a familiar foe in Big Piney in a 10 am game at Riverton High School as well.

    Greybull rocked Big Piney in their opening round game 60-27 after the Punchers arrived late while waiting for South Pass to open Thursday morning. WHSAA commissioner Ron Laird told officials to delay the tournament until the Punchers arrived, but when they did it was just a few minutes from stepping off the bus to the ball going up on the center jump

    Wind River  14 20 19 22 8 – 81

    Kemmerer -17 18 17 23 6 – 83

    Wind River – Braydon Leonhardt 6 (1) 4-5 19, Hunter Walker 2 0-0 4, Jaycee Herbert 10 7-11 27, Calder Johnson 2-4 2, Wambli Romero 3 (1) 0-0 9, Wylie Shearer 3 0-2 6, Rowdy Shearer 4 3-6 11. Totals 28 (2) 21-28

    Kemmerer – Peternal 8 8-13 24, Witber 1-2 1, Riding 1 (1) 0-0 5, Bowen 4 9-10 17, Wiswell 1 0-0 2, Rogers 1 0-2 2, Kampman 10 10-14 30. Totals 25 (1) 28-41 83


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