Lady Dogies finish third at State

Sonja Karp, NLJ Sports Editor

The Lady Dogies set off for Casper and the 3A State Tournament last Wednesday with the goal of bringing home a state basketball title. Head coach Chad Ostenson’s crew gave it everything they had, however a six point loss to the Lady Bison of Buffalo in the semifinal matchup stripped away their chance to play in the championship game on Saturday.

Despite their disappointment, the Lady Dogies rallied to pull out the narrowest of victories over the Lyman Lady Eagles on Saturday morning to bring home the third place trophy which is the first third place earned in the girls program, and it is the highest finish an NHS girls team has had since 1981. Though it wasn’t the title, the team definitely made their mark on Lady Dogie history.

“It was a pretty darned good year,” Ostenson nodded. “I thought we played pretty good basketball at the end of the season when it really mattered and we finished on a good note with a win and a third place trophy.”

The road to third place began on Thursday afternoon in the Ford Wyoming Center as the East conference, third seeded Lady Dogies tipped off against the two seed from the West, the Pinedale Lady Wranglers in the quarterfinal round. Pinedale came into the contest with a better overall record than Newcastle, however it didn’t take long for fans to see that the Lady Dogies were the better team.

On both sides of the ball, Ostenson’s crew executed their game plan, nearly to perfection, which made the road rough for the Lady Wranglers.

“Our defense looked very good,” Ostenson declared. “We rebounded well, taking away second chances, we took on the state’s leading scorer and held her to zero points at the half, and only allowed her 11 points overall when she averages almost 22 points per game, and we shot really well, especially for playing in the Ford Center.” 

Though Pinedale took a two-point lead early in the game, it didn’t take long for the Lady Dogies to warm up as they finished the first quarter leading the Lady Wranglers 12-4. They extended that lead to 28-8 by the time the teams headed to the locker rooms at the end of the half.

When play resumed, Pinedale went on a 7-0 run against Newcastle, but then back-to-back threes hit by MacKenzie Conzelman and Hunter McFarland crushed their momentum and the Lady Dogies continued to dominate to come away with the 54-33 win.

“That was great to get a win in that venue since we had yet to do that,” Ostenson smiled. “It was one of the best all-around games the girls have played all season. It was a good showing and a great way to start the tournament.”

Jaylen Ostenson led her team with 17 points, Shelby Tidyman was next with 12, Jayde Harrington had nine points and pulled down 15 rebounds, McFarland and Conzelman each ended with six points, while Oakley Checketts and Syd Pederson added two points each.

The semifinal game on Friday was deja vu from the Regional Tournament where Newcastle had to get past the number one ranked team in the state to make it to the championship. This time, they were tasked with defeating the number two ranked Buffalo Lady Bison in the semis to get to the title game. 

The two squads are essentially the same team and had split wins on the season, but Ostenson and his crew were fully aware that the Lady Bison were playing very good post season basketball so they would have their work cut out for them. 

The game was frankly a little ugly throughout. Both teams were determined to win their way into the championship game, so it was a defensive battle with neither squad having a lot of success on the offensive end of the court as evidenced by the score at halftime which was 12-11 in Newcastle’s favor. 

In the third quarter, in what would ultimately be the turning point of the game, Buffalo hit three threes in a row from which Newcastle could not recover. By the time the fourth quarter began, the Lady Dogies found themselves behind 21-25.


“I went back and looked at those shots, and truly we defended those pretty well,” Ostenson sighed. “Both of Karly’s [Davis] were at least NBA depth. Some kids are going to have their day and she did on Friday.”

The Lady Dogies pulled within three points with 51 seconds to play, but had to foul so the Lady Bison were able to pull away to take the 36-30 victory which meant that Newcastle would be denied their chance at a state title.

“I don’t know what else we could have done differently other than hope a couple of their shots didn’t fall,” Ostenson frowned. “And, I guess there were other little things along the way that added up. We missed some rebounds and a lot of free throws down the stretch. We are so evenly matched, but they hit a couple more timely shots than we did and we missed some free throws.” 

Tidyman led the team with 13 points, Ostenson was close behind with 11, while McFarland and Harrington each added three points each. Harrington had another good night on the boards, pulling down 12 rebounds. 

“The atmosphere in that game was so awesome,” Ostenson smiled. “It was so loud, the girls couldn’t hear me from the bench, but the great thing about these guys is that they knew what they needed to do and were calling out plays even if they couldn’t hear me.” 

The Lady Dogies had just a few hours to mourn the loss of the championship game before they needed to set their sights on bringing home some meaningful hardware from the tournament.

“It was a tough loss because it meant no run for the title. I was a little bit worried about how we would bounce back for the third place game. Historically, that is the toughest game to come back from, and we haven't done well in the past,” Ostenson admitted. “It wasn’t the one they wanted to play in, but they got themselves up and ready and did what it took. I’m as proud of them for that as anything.”

The game for third and fourth place on Saturday morning had the Lady Dogies pitted against the Lyman Lady Eagles. Ostenson described the contest as a grind in which his kids had to battle hard every minute.

“They worked their butts off,” he exclaimed. “It may not have been as good defensively as our other two, but I didn’t have as much scouting info from them as the other teams. However, the girls figured things out as the game went on and adjusted to their strengths.”

A battle is the only way to describe what took place on the court in those 32 minutes. Throughout the contest, there were four ties and three lead changes and the biggest lead that was established was a mere five points by either team.

The two were tied 11-11 at the end of the first quarter, the Lady Dogies took a 25-21 lead into the locker room at the half, Lyman pulled ahead 34-32 at the end of the third, and then Newcastle outscored them 9-6 in the fourth to take the 41-40 victory.

With short time remaining, the Lady Dogies were down two, but then McFarland hit a huge three to put her team up one. From 42.3 seconds to the end of the game, the score remained at 41-40 in Newcastle’s favor. A couple of missed free throws on the Lady Dogies end, and missed shots by the Eagles kept the score stagnant. 

The game ended in dramatic fashion. With 8.3 seconds remaining, Lyman had possession, but Tidyman stole the ball with just a couple seconds on the clock and that was enough to clinch the win and the third place trophy for the Lady Dogies.

“I’m pretty proud of what these girls did, and the toughness of our kids was impressive,” Ostenson declared. “Between Shelby’s injured foot, Hunter just getting over being sick, and Jayde being banged up and bruised,  they still gave everything they had so they should have no regrets.”

Ostenson finished the game leading her team with 15 points, Tidyman had 12 which came from hitting four of eight three point attempts, McFarland ended with five points, Checketts had three while Harrington, Pederson and Conzelman each added two to their team’s tally. Conzelman also had a good game on the glass, pulling down 10 rebounds.

The ladies ended their season with a 19-7 record, five of those losses coming from the number one and number two teams in the state. 

Next year, the Lady Dogies will lose six seniors, four starters and the head coach. However, they will have a good mix of returners who got some time on the varsity floor and then will bring in a freshman class that has some talent.


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