Dogies earn post-season honors

Sonja Karp

Jaylen Ostenson, above, was a unanimous pick for the 3A East All-Conference Team and an easy pick for the 3A All-State Team as well. This is the second time the sophomore has earned both post-season honors. 

Sonja Karp

NLJ Sports Reporter


A plethora of Dogies received recognition for the efforts put forth on the court this season. Five Lady Dogies and two Dogies garnered the attention of coaches in the conference to earn All-Conference awards or honorable mention nods, and one Lady Dogie was named to the All-State team as well.

The Lady Dogies had a successful season, finishing with a 14-9 record overall, a 4-2 quadrant record and a sixth-place finish at the state tournament. Head coach Chad Ostenson emphasized how pleased he was with his team’s growth throughout the course of the year, and Jaylen Ostenson, Shelby Tidyman, Mercedes Voelker, Tiernan Stanton and Hunter McFarland — the starting five — each were recognized by the 3A East Conference coaches for what they achieved. 

In addition, Coach Ostenson himself was recognized for the second consecutive year as Coach of the Year for the 3A East Conference. 

Jaylen Ostenson was named to the All-Conference and All-State teams for the second time in her two-year career, while Tidyman also earned the All-Conference nod for the Absaraka Conference. Voelker, Stanton and McFarland all received an Honorable Mention to the All-Conference team and, according to Coach Ostenson, all of his players were deserving of the honor.

“We had a couple of the girls with honorable mention come within a vote or two of making the All-Conference team, and in my opinion they deserved it,” Ostenson said. “But when you’re in the same conference as this year’s Douglas team, it limits the number of available spots.”

Jaylen Ostenson was a unanimous choice for All-Conference honors and an easy pick for All-State as well and when looking at her stats, it’s easy to understand why. 

Ostenson led her team with 454 points bringing her career total to 768 in just two seasons. She was second in rebounding with 161, second in assists with 46, first in steals with 49 and second in blocks with
12. In addition, she was the team’s leading scorer in 21-23 games, the leading rebounder in seven games and led in assists in four games. 

“Jaylen had a good year. She was second in 3A in scoring behind Allyson Fertig (Douglas), but a lot of credit for that also goes to her teammates for helping her do that,” Coach Ostenson nodded. “I’ve watched her forever, but the jump she took from her freshman year to this one was huge. She got stronger and more confident and shouldered the increased defensive pressure thrown at her in every game this season. She adjusted to the increased defensive hit and handled it very well. She didn’t run away and hide.”

Rarely was Ostenson not double teamed and sometimes triple teamed, but she still found a way to score, and when the Lady Dogies needed to put points on the board, often she was the go-to player.

“I really didn’t think about it a lot until I heard a couple of coaches talk about how much she improved from last year, but she really has gotten stronger, she handles the ball better, and she passes better and stronger against the press,” Ostenson nodded. “She can do it all if she has to, but I think they all play well together, which makes everyone look good.”

After receiving an Honorable Mention to the All-Conference team in her freshman year, sophomore Shelby Tidyman got the nod to the All-Conference squad this season. 

Tidyman finished her season as the second leading scorer with 161 points, the third leading rebounder with 97, she led in assists with 80, and was second with 44 steals. She led in assists in 11 games, led in rebounding in two and led in scoring for one contest throughout the year.

“Shelby does so much for us. If she needs to score 20 points, she gets it done. If she needs to give out 7-8 assists, she does that too. She draws the task of defending the opponent’s best guard. She just goes and goes and goes, and her motor never stops,” Ostenson said. “She’s tough. She’s not afraid to stick her nose — or teeth — in there and she just does a great job with her leadership and her defense. Her talking or communication is excellent. That goes unnoticed by a lot of people, but it’s such a big deal when it comes to making our defense better.”

Tidyman was also in the running for an All-State spot, but again, with the Douglas players taking up four positions, available spots were limited. 

Senior Mercedes Voelker was honored by the Absaraka coaches despite not earning enough votes to make the limited All-Conference squad. 

“Over the last four years, ‘Cedes really grew into a pretty important member of the team doing things that mostly go unnoticed, other than the threes,’’ Ostenson smiled. “She earned the reputation that she will knock them down if she is left open, which was huge for us because she demanded defensive attention so her defender wouldn’t be able to sag off and help. Teams didn’t give her as many open looks this year, but she did well in spite of the dedicated defense she drew.”

When Voelker got hurt and was sidelined for a couple of games late in the season, it was obvious that the squad missed her in her role of inbounding the basketball. 

“We also depended on her for her maturity of being a senior. She helped bring the ball up the court when we needed her to do that in the full court pressure, where in the past she would never have done that,” Ostenson described. “She stepped up this year and did some of those things that are so important, and we’re going to have to find a replacement for her next year.”

Voelker finished her career with 95 points on the year and hit 27 threes. She was the team’s fourth leading scorer, and she also pulled down 63 rebounds, had 26 assists and 22 steals.

Tiernan Stanton, the Lady Dogies’ 6-foot-2-inch sophomore post, also was within a vote or two of earning a spot on the All-Conference team. Though she didn’t quite make the cut, she finished strong as an Honorable Mention. 

“I really think that Tiernan deserved to make the All-Conference team, and the last week of the regular season was a turning point for her,” Ostenson declared. “She really came on as a force for us from then through the post season. She was definitely a difference maker before that, but really showed her potential at the end of the season.”

Stanton finished the season as the team’s third leading scorer with 113 points, she led the team pulling down 184 rebounds, and was also the leading blocker with 39 on the season. She added 4 assists and 15 steals to her season stats as well. In individual contests, Stanton led in rebounding in 14 games and assists in two. 

“Tiernan’s ceiling is so high and when she figures out how to finish, she’ll be up there in the state for sure,” Ostenson insisted. “She does such good things for us, especially on defense. Our defense was pretty good given we were the second best team on our side defensively, and I credit a lot of that to her. She’s a shot changer, and blocks a few. She got a lot of rebounds which makes a world of difference. She toughened up impressively in those final games of the year, and I can’t say enough about her with where she started and where she ended up.”

Hunter McFarland also received an Honorable Mention to the 3A East All-Conference team. As just a sophomore, McFarland got her first real taste of varsity action as a starter this season, and proved that she belongs on the 3A floor.

“If anyone wants to see what hitting the weight room, hard work and just doing the dirty and hard work, Hunter is a prime example,” Ostenson said. “She went to the weight room every night after practice and it showed. Her strength, confidence, and athletic ability grew by leaps and bounds, and if it weren’t for Tiernan, she was probably the most improved player.” 

McFarland drew the task of defending one of the top two or three guards of the team’s opponents, and according to Ostenson she knew her role and did it very well. 

“Hunter can score from the outside when the opportunity presents itself and she is also good at driving to the basket when it’s there too,” he stated. “She defends well and doesn’t turn the ball over. I knew we were going to have to fill two spots this season, and she just kind of came out of the blue and did some good things for us. It was quiet stuff, but really important and she was a pleasant surprise for us.”

McFarland finished her first varsity season with 74 points, 63 rebounds, 33 assists and 24 steals. 

Regarding his own Coach of the Year award, Ostenson was quick to share credit with his current and former colleagues. 

“I couldn’t have done it without Noelle Yonkee, and also Tyler Bartlett, who was head coach during my tenure,” Ostenson insisted. “It was a fun year with great kids and I look forward to seeing what we can do in the future.”

Men take honors

For the Dogie men, Head Coach Allen Von Eye also had a couple of players who earned postseason honors. Senior Zach Purviance was named to the 3A East Absaraka All-Conference Team.

Zach Purviance had a great cap to a very good career as a Dogie, finishing his final season averaging 13 points per game and 6.9 rebs, both of which landed him in the top eight in the 3A East Conference and his rebounds were in the top 10 in the state. He scored a total of 234 points, pulled down 125 rebounds, both of which were the most on the team. He also led with 27 steals and 12 blocks, and was third on the team in assists with 17.

“We asked a lot of Zach on both ends due to the lack of continuity that the season provided. He responded by giving his best every day in practice and every night on the floor,” Von Eye nodded. “In his four years in our program, I feel that Zach grew an incredible amount as a basketball player and as a young man.”  

Purviance also finished his career as the Dogies’ 13th leading scorer of all time with 407 career points. He also ranks ninth in three-point makes with 52, and third in charges taken, finishing with 15.  

“We are very proud of all that Zach accomplished and all the time and effort he has put into our program,” Von Eye declared. “Perhaps the thing that makes us the most proud of him is how he interacts with our future Dogies and how he always takes the time to visit with them or play a quick game of basketball with them. He is going to do awesome things in the future.” 

Taten Engle received Honorable Mention to the 3A East Absaraka All-Conference Team as just a sophomore. 

“Tate grew a ton this year,” Von Eye said. “He was able to get good minutes as a freshman and was introduced to varsity basketball, however, this year he showed on a nightly basis that he truly belongs at this level, and was a very solid player.”  

Engle finished the season averaging 7.1 points per game, 3.5 rebounds and two assists. However, through the last six games of the season Engle averaged 3.2 assists per night, which would have put him in the top six in the conference. Overall for the Dogies, he was third in scoring with 127 points, second in rebounding with 63, led the team in assists with 36, had 16 steals and five blocks.

“Tate really is a great facilitator and sometimes he sees guys open before they know they are open,” Von Eye elaborated. “He really started to become confident in his abilities as the season wore on and was able to get to the rim on almost any defender in our conference. His game will only continue to grow as he keeps working in the weight room and the gym.”

Of the seven Dogies who garnered post-season honors, five will return to the court next season so the future looks bright for Dogie Hoops.


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