It will be the tale of two teams on separate trajectories this weekend as the girls and boys basketball teams return home to host Pinedale and Lander Valley.
Uphill for the girls
A promising Lady Broncs team had a rude awakening in Lander last weekend by a team the girls would likely beat 5 times out of 10. There was no shortage of things to blame the lopsided loss on but excuses likely won’t be necessary against Pinedale tonight.
The Lady Wranglers (10-2) are really good. Nevermind Pinedale plays in the 3A and Jackson is a 4A team. The Lady Wranglers have won 5 in a row, and their top-ranked defense has held opponents to under 30 points in 6 of those 10 wins.
Seniors Roxanne Rogers, Abigail Hawke, and Olivia Edwards lead the way for this powerhouse, with a supporting cast of juniors Mandy Majhanovich, Sara Kunard, and McKenzie Illoway. If that’s not enough, Pinedale’s leading scorer is freshman Elyn Bowers, the coach’s daughter.
“I want Pinedale to come in thinking they’re hot stuff. I really do,” coach Andrea Joyce told JH Press. “If we play the way we can play, we can play with anybody. I know they’ve got some good shooters and it all starts with their big girl [6’ Abigail Hawke] and if we can get her in foul trouble and just drive right at that freshman [Elyn Bowers] and get them in foul trouble. It’s a whole different game when you try to play with fouls. We’ll see if that works.”
Jackson will also play this weekend without star forward Karsen Breeding, who is attending a club volleyball camp in California.
Joyce will need a lot more out of power forward Gracie Hardeman in her absence. The 5’ 10” junior has been averaging just 2 points a game, far below her totals last season. Newcomer Anna Revill will also get a chance to step up this weekend in Breeding’s absence.
Joyce also expects Bailey Chamberlain to see more minutes as point guard Jacie Chatham nurses an ankle injury. Sophomore Casey Carr and freshman Courtney Noyce will also likely see time off the bench this weekend.
Boys a good bet
Meanwhile, the boys are in a good head space coming off a blowout of the Lander Valley Tigers last weekend for their first win in forever. Jackson will see a young Pinedale team in a bit of a rebuilding year. The Wranglers are still searching for their first win in 11 tries so far this season.
“We’ve had a tremendous week of practice. Kids are high coming off the win. Attitude is great,” coach Hayden Hatfield said. “Pinedale does have some really good players. They haven’t showed it yet in the win column but they have three really good sophomores [Bridger Kaiser, Owen McMillen, Josh Gosar]. We’ll have to show up and play. It’s not going to be an easy win.”
But it should be. Expect Pinedale to struggle with handling the size of Jackson. Andrew Hanna (6’7”) and Gavin Keelin (6’5”) will be go-to guys down low. And Jackson’s suddenly resurgent defense should have an easy time handling the wort-ranked offense in the 3A.
Both Jackson programs host Lander Valley Saturday afternoon in a rematch of last week’s games with the Tigers in Fremont County.
Pinedale vs. Jackson at JHHS. Friday, January 14. Girls 6:00pm, boys immediately following at 7:30pm.
Lander Valley vs. Jackson at JHHS. Saturday, January 15. Girls 2:pm, boys immediately following at 3:30pm.