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KW Girls Bball

Kelly Walsh's Madison Vinich defends Evanston’s Emmery Wagstaff during their game Feb. 16 in Casper.

The annual rivalry series between Wyoming and Montana basketball teams continues this weekend. All-star teams from the neighboring states first play at Sheridan on Friday and then again on Saturday in Billings, Montana.

Tip-off for both days begins at 5:30 p.m. with the start of the girls game. The boys games follow immediately after.

Montana swept all four games last season, which extended the Big Sky State’s winning streak to 12 games on the boys side. The Montana girls hold a 29-13 advantage going into the weekend.

Wyoming’s girls have a chance to make a dent in that record this year. Leading the assembled Cowgirls are Madison Vinich (Kelly Walsh), Kristy Dick (Natrona County), Emmery Wagstaff (Evanston), Makenzee Fagenbush (Cheyenne East), Maddie Hieb (Gillette), Mariah Robinson (Buffalo), Haley McDermott (Thermopolis) and Teila McInerney (Sundance). All made the state tournament with Fagenbush, Hieb, Robinson and McInerney among those who played for a state championship this season.

Wyoming will have its work cut out as the Montana squad is loaded with future college players. Jordyn Schweyen and Kylie Frohlich of Missoula Sentinel will both play for the Grizzlies while Taylor Sullivan of Helena Captial has signed to play at Army-West Point. Brynley Fitzgerald of Dillon will play at Montana State, Tessa Burke of Missoula Loyla has committed to Eastern Washington and Kailee Oliverson of Twin Bridges signing with Nevada.

There are no representatives from Wyoming playing above the junior college level. The Wyoming girls went on a late 10-0 run in the first game last year but came away a point short. They lost by 26 the following night.

Meanwhile, the Wyoming boys hope to end the streak. Led by Trey Hladky (Gillette), Braxton Hiatt (Evanston), Chase Critchfield (Evanston), Aaron Woodward (Sheridan), Hayden Peterson (Buffalo) and Ridge McCoy (Riverton), the makeshift Cowboys have a tall order this weekend.

Montana has size and potential on its side. Mack Anderson of Bozeman, who is committed to play at the University of Montana, stands out alongside Montana Gatorade Player of the Year Sam Beighle of Missoula Sentinel as standouts on the Montana side. Wyoming Gatorade Player of the Year Trey Hladky is the closest on the Cowboys’ roster to play basketball in NCAA Division I, having already started workouts for Division II Chadron State.

Montana won by 15 or more points in both games last season. Wyoming’s Mr. Basketball, Pine Bluffs graduate and current UW Cowboy Hunter Thompson, did not play in those games due to a foot injury.

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Follow sports reporter Brady Oltmans on Twitter @BradyOltmans


High School Sports Reporter

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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