The Casper College and Western Wyoming Community College women’s basketball teams used strong second halves to advance to the finals of the Region IX Women’s Basketball Tournament at Cougar Palace.

                Casper College, who is ranked 15th in the nation, had a 32-31 lead at halftime and then scored 53 points to Laramie County Community College’s 27 points to register the 85-58 win in the first semifinal.

                The second semi between Western Wyoming and Trinidad State saw the Trojans hold a 34-32 lead at halftime only to watch the Mustangs outscore the Trojans 21-7 in the third quarter to pick up the 68-61 win.

                Casper and Western Wyoming will meet for the championship at 4 p.m. at Cougar Palace with the winner earning the automatic berth to the national tournament March 22-27 in Lubbock, Texas. After the championship game, tournament medals will be handed out along with the recipients of the North and South All-region team as well as the Region IX All-tournament team.

                Friday night, both contests were competitive. The nightcap was a battle from the start. Trinidad exploded out to an 14-4 lead behind 3-pointers from Yle Exposito-Perez and Tiersah Penn and led 18-10 after the opening quarter.

                The second quarter saw Trinidad maintain the bit lead, leading 34-20 with about three minutes to play. That was when Western Wyoming went on a 12-0 run behind seven points from Kayla Thornton to close to within 34-32 at halftime.

                The third quarter was where Western Wyoming won the contest as they scored the first five points to lead 37-34 before Trinidad tied it at 37-37. The Mustangs then went on a 16-4 run to lead 53-41 on a trey by Thornton. Trinidad got a late 3-pointer by Exposito-Perez to trail 53-44.

                Trinidad mounted a comeback as they sliced the deficit to five points on three occasions, the last at 65-60. Western Wyoming kept battling as they hit free throws down the stretch and played tight defense to get the 68-61 win.

                Both teams shot the more semi-well with Trinidad shooting 35 percent for the game and just 4-of-13 from the 3-point arc, while Western Wyoming was 32 percent from the field and 6-of-26 from beyond the arc.

                Trinidad had a pair in double figures as Exposito-Perez finished with 25 points while Penn had 10 points.

                Western Wyoming was led by Thornton with 31 points, including going 10-of-13 from the free throw line.

                Ashelynn Birch had a double-double of 12 points and 11 rebounds, while Tamryn Blom pulled down 15 rebounds.

                The first game of the night saw LCCC control the first quarter early, running to a 21-10 lead behind three 3-pointers, including two from Halle Hester and one from Shannon Niles. Casper score the final five points, including a trey from Ana Csenyi to trail 21-15.

                Casper the second quarter like they ended the first with six straight points to tie the game at 21. LCCC came back and led 29-23 on a Hester trey. Casper responded with a 9-0 run to lead 32-29 and led at halftime 32-31.

                The third quarter is where the T-Birds put the came away. LCCC started the third lead 37-34 on buckets by Lylah Spring and Hester. Casper followed that with a 13-0 run that was capped by a 3-pointer by Julia Palomo to lead 47-37 with 3:40 left in the third. Casper led 62-42 after three periods.

                The fourth quarter was a little closer, but LCCC couldn’t get within 15 points as Casper won 85-58.

                Casper buried 10 3-pointers on the day with four players in double figures. Sandra Frau-Garcia led the way with 21 points followed by Ana Csenyi with 20. Palomo added 19 with four 3-pointers, whole Flora Goed had 10 points.

                LCCC had three in double figures behind Hesters 15 points followed by Monique Marcetic-Vaotangi with 11 and Shannon Niles with 10.


Game 1

LCCC                      21 10 12 15 – 58

Casper                  15 17 30 23 – 85


Lylah Spring 8, Jamy de Kock 7, Shannon Niles 10, Mikola Kuzmanovic 4, Halle Hester 15, Monique Marcetic-Vaotangi 11, Courtney Rowlry 3.


Claudia Garrido 2, Celina Arnlund 2, Logann Alver 4, Flora Goed 10, Sandra Frau-Garcia 21, Julia Palomo 19, Ana Csenyi 20, Joslin Igo 7.


Game 2

Trinidad                18 16 7 20 – 61

W. Wyoming      10 22 21 15 – 68


Yle Exposito-Perez 25, Margarita Salas 7, Tiersah Penn 10, Keisy Alvarez 9, Sierra Garcia-Reisch 5, Cristina Luquin 5.


Kayde Strauss 7, Emma Patik 6, Hannah Harris 8, Ashelynn Birch 12, Kayla Thornton 31, Tamryn Blom 4.