It is now March and with it comes basketball madness. NCAA conference tournaments are underway, and by the time this edition is in your hands, we can only hope both the Cowboys and Cowgirls are still alive in Las Vegas.
Congrats to Will Fish for his second consecutive All State at the recent 2A state wrestling tournament. The junior finished second in the 113 pound weight class and has one more shot at a state title. Also the 2A state basketball tournament is now in the books with NCHS absent for the first time in seven years. There were many close, exciting games, and yet the West went home with most of the hardware. Upsets blew up the brackets in Friday’s semifinals as both the defending state champs from Pine Bluffs were shocked in their games. The Lady Hornets were unbeaten until last week’s regional championship but Wyoming Indian won in a back and forth nail biter. A little less than five hours later in a rematch from last year’s title game, the Wind River boys used their size and athleticism to shut down everyone but Hunter Thompson. As their perfect season unraveled, so did their fans. I was stunned upon hearing about some horrible verbal abuse directed towards the Wyoming Indian, Wind River and Lovell players.
As a general rule I don’t like watching third place games, but was intrigued how PB would respond. The girls got down by a dozen to Rocky Mountain but battled back to fall by just two- but by losing three of their last four games- clearly went off the rails at the wrong time. The boys were wildly talented- yet an undisciplined, smug group. During their meltdown against Lovell at the new Kelly Walsh gym they were assessed three technical fouls and another intentional foul that could have been a technical. It was sad to see this display from a group that had tied the state record for consecutive wins the night before against Rocky Mountain. Apparently the basketball gods didn’t see fit to anoint this team a 51st or 52nd straight win. We can now wish Thompson the best as he becomes the next homegrown Wyoming Cowboy next fall. Wind River beat the Chiefs in the first-ever all Fremont County state basketball championship game. The Big Horn girls survived a frantic Lady Chief effort to with the 2A girls title.
Another shoutout goes to NCHS alumni Kaare Sigvartsen for being the first Lusk grad to ref a state championship game in many years.
I’m going to reiterate this point regarding the eclipse madness as much as possible over the next five months. While crowds of 10,000 people visiting Niobrara County are being estimated-that seems like a top-end number to me. This is not another Rainbow Gathering, Burning Man, Hell’s Angels or Grateful Dead crowd showing up to destroy our land. I am not here to disparage these folks- in fact I have many good friends that fall into all of these groups (and I happen to love the Dead’s music). They are good, decent people that care about our planet and are intelligent and employed. We have to embrace those that are coming here for a once in a lifetime event.
I’m aware of the many concerns our county and small towns will encounter as we will be hosting visitors from around the globe. Those coming to the area will be mostly affluent, educated and of a scientific mindset. We need to prepare, educate and NOT over-react to those coming to view this phenomenon. They are not coming here to loot, vandalize, and pillage.
I guarantee the friends I have coming to visit are genuine, interesting folks that will not litter, burn or disgrace our wonderful Wyoming. Let’s soak up whatever happens and remember that we get the whole thing for free. Why does it matter if we have ten or 10,000 that want to view it with us from our beautiful little part of the world?
I was going to throw a few spring training spitballs at you, but my editor may not like the length of this weeks’ column as it is.