What a fickle place a state tournament can be. Wind River and Tongue River expected to play each other, but not in the third place game Saturday afternoon.
Both teams entered state tournament play winning their prospective regions. The Cougars won the West 2-A and the Eagles the East, but Big Horn and Pine Bluffs had other ideas and semi-final losses sent both to the third place contest at a bright, sunlit Mustang Gym at Natrona County High School.
The Eagles ran away with the game late in the final period for a 75-58 win.
The Cougars fell one game short of bringing home a trophy for the second consecutive year.
Foul trouble, and rebounding were problems the Cougars could not overcome after a promising opening period.
Scoring leader Chaumbrey Romero picked up three fouls in the opening period before eventually fouling out late in the game. He had ample company on the bench with Jaycee Herbert, Wylie Shearer and Cade David also exiting the game with five personal fouls.
The game was played at a breakneck pace from the opening tip, with the two teams combining for 47 fouls, but no matter what officials called, the Eagles and Cougars continued to claw away at each other.
Seniors Trey Mulholland, Jaden Miller and Romero made the best of their final high school game with Mulholland hitting turn around jumpers and a 3-pointer for nine points. Miller also score nine with a pair of treys. Romero concluded a stellar prep career with five points.
Shearer led the Cougars with 15, including a pair of “shooter’s touch” baskets that ricocheted high off the rim before dropping through, the first on a short range jumper, and the second on a long range 3-pointer.
Javin Walker led Tongue River with 16, Eli Cummins had 15, Caleb Kilbride 13 and Colter Hanft 10.
Tongue River was 23-of-35 from the free throw line and the Cougars were nearly perfect, hitting 15-of-16 from the stripe.
Wind River finishes the season 19-7.