Farson junior Lain Mitchelson and his teammates have become regulars at state-culminating events.
The Pronghorns advanced to the championship game of the Class 1A/6-man football playoffs each of the past two years, and Thursday they overcame an early deficit to defeat Hulett in the quarterfinals of the Wyoming State High School Basketball Championship and advance to the semifinals for the second year in a row.
Awaiting the Pronghorns is Kaycee, which not only defeated Farson in the past two football championship games but also beat them in last year’s third-place basketball game.
Mitchelson, who had game highs with 25 points and 12 rebounds in Farson’s 69-61 victory over Hulett, wants to put an end to the Pronghorns’ frustration.
“If we could finally break through and win a championship it would mean the world to us,” he said. “I’ve been playing with these guys since we were little. We used to go to Rock Springs to play Little League Baseball and we’ve been playing basketball together forever.”
For all its success on the football field — Kaycee has won 30 consecutive games and the last three 6-man titles — the Buckaroos have yet to break through on the basketball court.
Thursday’s 75-69 victory over Saratoga put the Buckaroos in the semifinals for the sixth year in a row. But they haven’t advanced to the championship game since 2003 and haven’t won it all since 1999.
Saratoga senior Gage Bartlett did his best Thursday to keep Kaycee from advancing and make the state semifinals a West Regional reunion after four-time defending champion Burlington and Encampment advanced earlier in the day. Bartlett scored a tournament-best 34 points and hit his third 3-pointer to pull the Panthers within three at 72-69 with 15 seconds to play. But the Buckaroos made two free throws and Bartlett’s contested 3 was just off the mark.
Kaycee’s victory was the first all day for a Class 1A East Conference team in either the boys or girls bracket.
“We’ve been battling against really good teams all year long,” Farson head coach Marvin Applequist said. “Whether we’re winning or we’re behind we know how to fight back.”
From a Panther to a Tiger
Encampment senior Wyatt Cox has been a staple on the hardwood for the Tigers throughout his prep career.
During the fall, however, Cox wore the purple and gold of rival Saratoga. He was a two-time Class 1A/11-man all-state selection for the Panthers.
Rather than suit up for the Hanna/Encampment combined football team in the fall, however, Cox traveled the 19 miles to play for Saratoga.
“I’ve gone to Encampment ever since kindergarten,” Cox said after the Tigers’ 70-35 rout of Hanna on Thursday. “But I didn’t want to play 6-man football so I make the trip to Saratoga. All those guys from Saratoga are my friends off the court, but when we play them I want to do whatever I can to make sure we beat them.”