The Saratoga Sun -

By Liz Wood 

Tigers take Wind River tourney


The Encampment Lady Tigers came home with the first place trophy in the Wind River Tournament Saturday night, but they are still looking to improve their game.

That makes head coach Robin O'Leary very happy.

"Coach Catron and I discussed what we could improve on and when we were coming home on the bus, the girls were saying 'Hey coach, we need to work on this'," O'Leary said. To the coach, that means her players are not settling, even though they are ranked No. 1 in their conference and No. 2 in the 1A division statewide.

Friday and Saturday, the Lady Tigers (3-0, 10-7 scores missing) have two conference games against Farson/Eden Lady Pronghorns (0-2, 6-9 some missing) and Little Snake River Valley Lady Rattlers (2-1, 12-3 scores missing) respectively.

"Farson will be a good experience," O'Leary said. The girls travel to Farson and play right off the bus. That is how they will play at regionals, O'Leary said.

Saturday, they play the Lady Rattlers, ranked No. 2 in the conference, at home. "They are still on our radar and still a huge challenge," O'Leary said. "We can pick up some that we can improve on, but we know they are going to improve too."

O'Leary said she hopes that the Lady Tigers make as many or more improvements than the Lady Rattlers do.

How the Lady Tigers fare in these two games will determine their seed in the Southwest Conference at regionals.

O'Leary is hoping the Lady Tigers will have the No. 1 seed.

At the Wind River Tournament, the girls had some tough competition – playing against two 2A teams and two 1A teams to earn the tournament title.

The first two games were pool play with the score going to 21. The Tigers beat Wind River Lady Cougars 21-18, 21-16. This was a good test for the Lady Tigers ability as the Lady Cougars (2-2, 10-7 scores missing) are ranked No. 3 in the 2A Southwest Conference.

The next match was against 1A Northwest Conference, and a team they are familiar with, the Dubois Lady Rams (2-2, 8-7 scores missing). The Lady Tigers overpowered the Lady Rams 21-12 and 21-6.

Winning the two pool play matches put the Tigers into the bracket play. They competed against the Wind River junior varsity team 25-11, 25-5.

In the fourth game, the Lady Tigers played the Lady Rattlers and won 25-12, 25-20.

For the championship round, the Lady Tigers played the Kemmerer Lady Rangers (4-1, 10-7 scores missing), who were ranked second in the 2A Southwest Conference.

"Kemmerer was tough," O'Leary said. "They had some good hitters and there was a battle. Lots of heavy hitting, even though it was the end of the day."

The Lady Tigers came out on top 25-20 and 25-18.

The Tigers' JV team also competed in the tournament, O'Leary said. They won the first match and split the next two matches O'Leary said. The JV team is a five-man team competing against six-man teams. "I am really pleased with them and they showed some grit."

O'Leary said it was a double-edged sword for the varsity and JV teams both playing because neither team had any relief. She wanted to see how the varsity team would do without a rotation. "It would have been nice to have them in case we needed to use them," O'Leary said. But, with both teams playing in the tournament, all the girls had lots of playing time on Saturday.

With the Lady Tigers having a successful year, O'Leary said they are focusing on themselves.

She said she was proud of the way the girls played, especially considering they competed against teams they hadn't played before. "I was glad they played even all day long," O'Leary said.

The tournament was originally scheduled for two days, but dropped to one day about one month ago, O'Leary said. The girls took the bus up the night before with the first match at 8 a.m. and the final match at 6 p.m.

Game time at Farson/Eden is 4 p.m. Friday. The Lady Tigers host the Lady Rattlers beginning at noon Saturday in the Encampment gym.


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