Mar 3, 2017 - By Scott Akanewich, Sports EditorLander lost a thriller at the hands of the Lady Buffaloes by a final of 54-52 in their Class 3-A West regional opener.
Lander's Lady Tigers had the game in their hands to win right at the end -- or more precisely, in the hands of Jade Ware, who had a 3-pointer miss at the buzzer -- in a 54-52 opening-round defeat at the Class 3-A West regional tournament at Wolverine Gym on Thursday.
Despite the fact the Lady Tigers were without Raylee Nipper due to a knee injury suffered in Lander's final regular-season game against Riverton, there were others who stepped up in her stead to provide solid play for head coach Jeremy Francom's club.
Avery Cox was the primary source of offense, scoring a game-high 21 points, while freshman Rhoni Ferris added nine to go with eight from Ware and seven by Conner LeBeau.
Mountain View got out to an early lead and carried a 19-9 advantage following the opening quarter on the strength of nine points by Alyx Wells, but the Tigers roared back in the second period, outscoring the Lady Buffaloes by an 18-6 margin to leave the score 27-25 in favor of Lander at the break.
According to Francom, the Tigers' tenacity on the defensive end of the floor is what helped swing the tide back in favor of his squad following the shaky opening period.
"Our defense is what kept us in the game," said Francom. "We were getting into the flow of the game."
In the third quarter, proceedings were much closer, with an 18-14 advantage for Mountain View, who led, 43-41, entering the fourth.
The contest was deadlocked at 52-52 late in the final period, before the Buffaloes scored to make it 54-52 with 0:04 remaining, as Ware launched her game-winning attempt, but to no avail.
Wells led Mountain View with 16 points.
Despite defeat, Francom was pleased not only with Cox's play, but the contributions made by his entire squad, he said.
"Avery came in and played one of her best games," said Francom. "Also, Rhoni Ferris stepped up and gave us some good minutes, as well as Cece and Gabby St. Clair."
However, no regrets for Francom, as he felt his club left it all out on the court, he said.
"Our girls gave 100 percent every second they were out on the floor," said Francom. "We're simply doing what we've been doing all along -- I'm so proud."
Lander next faced an elimination game against Pinedale on Friday.
Lander 9 18 14 11 -- 52
Mountain View 19 6 18 11 -- 54
Lander - C. St. Clair 2, Cox 21, Harris 5, Ware 8, Ferris 9, LeBeau 7.
Mountain View - Newton 8, Hurdsman 14, Wells 16, Tims 11, L. Hereford 3.
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