Welcome to history, Kelly Walsh girls basketball team. Never before in program history have the Kelly Walsh girls earned the No. 1 seed at the Class 4A West Regional, let alone run the table in the regular season. That, however, is exactly what happened this season.
A convincing 69-35 victory at Green River on Saturday finalized a perfect West Conference season for Kelly Walsh and clinched a spot in the state tournament before this weekend’s 4A West Regional in Jackson even began. Not as convincing, the Kelly Walsh boys also clinched a first-round bye and a berth at state with the No. 2 seed in the boys’ regional tournament.
Both teams entered last year’s state tournament on diverging paths and with dramatically different conclusions. Fate has flipped the script going into this regional tournament.
The Trojan girls (17-4, 10-0 4A West Conference) ride a 10-game winning streak into the regional tournament and will play the winner of No. 4 Rock Springs and No. 5 Jackson on Friday night. Not all games have been pretty, but Kelly Walsh has won them at any tempo in conference play.
Going into regionals the Trojans are third in 4A in scoring offense (54.7) and fourth in shooting (38 percent). They also hold teams to 45.9 points and force 20.1 turnovers per game.
Getting to their starting lineup is difficult. Senior guard Madison Vinich leads the team with 15.9 points, 6.2 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game. Senior point guard Hallie Jimenez is far more impactful than her 6.3 points, 2.4 assists and 2.6 steals indicate. Senior Jamia Johnson can unpredictably break out of her 9.2 points and 3.2 rebound averages. Senior Michaela Gromer knocks down timely shots on the wing and sophomore Corin Carruth alters a game in the post with her 7.1 points and 6.2 rebounds.
Then you get to the bench, with junior guard Kylie Spangler and junior post Hadley Lloyd, both of whom don’t have the statistics that match their impact.
Together, that has made the Trojans impossible to defeat in the West Conference.
On the other hand, the boys split last weekend’s Sweetwater County series to earn the No. 2 seed in the regional tournament. The defending state champion Trojans (10-11, 7-3) struggled at the beginning of the season but turned it around when conference play started. They await the winner between No. 3 Rock Springs and No. 6 Jackson on Friday afternoon.
It’s astonishing how far the Trojans have come this season, considering their slow start and their conference-worst 49.0 points per game. But head coach Randy Roden’s philosophy has always started with defense, which the Trojans are No. 1 in, allowing just 51.9 points per game.
As a group they aren’t great shooters (11th in 4A at 38 percent) and their lack of size as predominantly juniors and sophomores has gotten them in trouble on the boards (11th in 4A with 27.0 rebounds per game).
Junior Davion McAdam has been the main source of offense all season for the Trojans, averaging 14.3 points, 8.4 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game. He leads the team in all of those categories. Then there’s Ross Padilla (7.8 points), Sage Coventry (5.2) and Connor Shopp (5.0 points, 3.5 rebounds), who have come on strong for the Trojans.
Sophomore Michael Bradley has come off the bench to hit timely 3s late in the year and the late-game perseverance has proven that these Trojans are bigger and better than their statistics.