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Casper College women's basketball coach Gunnare is Region IX Coach of the Year
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Casper College women's basketball coach Gunnare is Region IX Coach of the Year

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To no one’s surprise, the Casper College women’s basketball team dominated the Region IX North sub-region end-of-season honors announced Tuesday.

The Thunderbirds (20-0) ended the regular season ranked No. 3 in the National Junior College Athletic Association Top 25, tying the 2011-12 team as the highest-ever ranking for the program.

Dwight Gunnare, who is in his 13th year leading the T-Birds, was selected the Region IX Coach of the Year. Gunnare has compiled a record of 338-80 (.809 winning percentage) at Casper College and earlier this season became the program’s all-time winningest coach. He surpassed Gary Becker, who was 328-104 from 1989-2003.

Under Gunnare, the T-Birds have won four Region IX championships (2010-11, 2018, 2020). The 2010 team finished fourth at the national tournament.

Gunnare wasn’t the only T-Bird recognized for his contributions this season as sophomore Natalia Otkhmezuri, Kobe King-Hawea and Kammie Ragsdale were selected to the all-Region IX North team and freshman Jonseana Vaz was an all-defensive selection.

King-Hawea was a junior college All-America at Gillette College last year before transferring to Casper College when the Pronghorns cut their basketball program. This season the 5-foot-11 wing from Australia leads the T-Birds with 15.4 points and 6.3 rebounds per game.

Otkhmezuri, a 5-8 guard from the country of Georgia, averages 15.1 points per game and is second in the nation in 3-point shooting percentage (52.5%).

Ragsdale, a 6-0 wing from Pine Bluffs, averages 8.3 points per game.

The T-Birds enter this week’s Region IX Tournament in La Junta, Colorado, having won 35 games in a row dating back to last season. Casper College faces Northeastern Junior College in the quarterfinals Thursday

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Sports Editor

Jack Nowlin returned to the Star-Tribune in 2007 after eight years covering Michigan State University athletics. A Wyoming native, and a graduate of Jeffrey City High School and the University of Wyoming, Jack serves as the Star-Tribune’s sports editor.

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