When the Worland boys basketball team started practice ahead of last season they faced a harsh reality: They were without the five starters that led them to the state championship the previous year.

Then came the Warriors’ regular season opener, which couldn’t have gone any worse. Douglas, talented as they were, dominated so much that the state’s mercy rule went into effect. By the time it was all over the scoreboard said 77-35.

From that point on fortunes changed for the Warriors and their standout post, Cody Baumstarck.

“I think it helped push us to get better and show everyone that we’re still a competitive team and wanted to be a force,” he said of that opening loss.

Baumstarck, a 6-foot, 7-inch force inside the paint, then assumed the role of leader and started to take over in the season.

Worland eventually went on a 14-game winning streak that included a 72-49 victory over the same Douglas team that was responsible for the embarrassing loss just over two months earlier.

“That second time playing Douglas and we beat them by 23,” Baumstarck said. “That was the moment that we realized we’re one of the best teams in 3A. That was a great feeling. It was one of my greatest memories in high school basketball.”

As East Conference foe Douglas captured attention that wasn’t solely placed on Riverton, Worland and the turnaround through the season went relatively unnoticed even when Baumstarck was hard to miss on the court.

Eventually, the Warriors met much-hyped Riverton and even Baumstarck’s size couldn’t overcome the Wolverines’ talent. Riverton became champions and Worland settled for second place in a 62-34 final.

The evolution of the Warriors and their large post didn’t go unnoticed at the end of the year.

He was an all-state selection and his head coach, Aaron Abel, returned from his all-state meeting with paperwork that informed Baumstarck he was selected to play in Saturday’s Wyoming Coaches Foundation Boys Basketball All-Star Game. He is joined in the game by high school teammate Clay Bullard.

“I was hoping for it,” he said of the honor at Thursday afternoon’s practice, “but I didn’t want to get my hopes up and not have it because there was tough competition this year.”

He finished his senior season averaging 16.0 points, 12.3 rebounds and 3.0 blocks per game.

Baumstarck was also named to the Wyoming-Montana all-star series team this summer, which was far more competitive than practices this week.

While Worland flew under the radar until the end of the season, Baumstarck also didn’t garner much attention from college coaches outside of the state.

“Most of the junior colleges across the state asked about me but Sheridan (College) just seemed like the best fit for me,” he said. “They have good coaches, it’s fairly close, and I like it.”

But before he goes off to school to continue his basketball career, he’s got one more high school game. And this time everyone will know who he is come Saturday afternoon.

“I’m just going to have fun with it,” he said. “It might be a little emotional because it’s my last high school basketball game and then I move on to new and bigger things.”

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Brady Oltmans reports on high school and local sports. He joined the Star-Tribune in July 2016 after covering prep sports and college soccer in Nebraska. He also contributes to University of Wyoming sports coverage. He and his dog live in Casper.

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