If you go
What: Little Snake River Valley School (Wyo.) basketball games in 1A west regional tournament
When: Girls 5:20 p.m., boys 7 p.m. Thursday
Where: Lander Valley High School, 350 Baldwin Creek Road
— The opponents for both teams will be determined by play-in games.
Before the Wyoming basketball season began, the Little Snake River Valley School teams had two pre-season goals.
Those goals: Win the Three Trails Conference and get a number one seed in the 1A west regional basketball tournament.
Heading into the regional tournament, which begins Thursday in Lander, both the boys and girls varsity teams accomplished their goals.
“It means a lot to us as a team because it was a goal we put down at the beginning of the season,” boys head coach Paul Prestrud said. “We did the same thing last year and we wanted nothing less this year.”
Prestrud’s team finished the regular season undefeated at 22-0.
While the girls team didn’t finish with the same unblemished mark as the boys, they nonetheless rattled off a 20-2 overall record, and are riding an 18-game winning streak.
“We won the number one seed last year on a coin flip,” girls head coach Jodi Stanley said. “This year, we wanted to win our conference outright, so it is great to reach one of our goals.”
The three-day regional tournament concludes Saturday with both teams potentially playing three games if they take first or second, and four games if they place third or fourth.
The top four teams will advance to the Wyoming 1A state tournament March 3 through 5 in Casper.
“The biggest thing about playing three days straight is we don’t get to sleep in our own beds or eat homecooked meals,” Prestrud said. “We have an early season, three-day tournament that we use to figure out how we handle it.”
Last year, Stanley said her team lost a starter the week before the regional tournament, but feels her team’s depth this season will be the difference.
“With 10 to 12 really good ballplayers, I think we have the depth to handle the three-day tournament,” she said. “Teams who only have a five- or six-player rotation will struggle more like we did last year.
“It can be a brutal weekend for some teams.”
The boys team will play the winner of the Dubois and Encampment game.
The Rattlers beat Encampment 62-23 and 71-36 in the regular season, but have not played Dubois this season.
Prestrud said both potential matchups have downsides.
“Sometimes we feel playing a team three times like we would Encampment is tough because the two teams know each other fairly well,” he said. “On the other hand, we don’t really know too much about Dubois, which can be tricky in preparing for a team.”
Nonetheless, Prestrud said his team doesn’t care who they play.
“I don’t think it really matters because our goal remains the same to qualify for the state tournament,” he said. “We have to finish top four and I think we have a pretty good chance.”
The girls team will be in a similar situation, playing the winner of the game between Hanna, a team they beat twice in the regular season, and Dubois.
Stanley said if she had a pick, she thinks her team would rather play Dubois.
“We handled Hanna pretty easily both times we played them, but we are always looking to play someone new,” she said. “It is more fun to get a look at different teams.”
Both coaches said they feel their team is playing great at the moment, but acknowledged the road to the state tournament will be tough.
“There is added pressure because if you lose two games, you go home,” Prestrud said. “We are going to stay with what we have now and make minor adjustments depending on the team we play.”
The girls team could potentially play Meeteetse in the semi-finals, a team that accounted for one of their two losses on the season.
“If momentum plays a factor, Meeteetse is playing really good basketball right now,” Stanley said. “Three of our last four opponents have not had a winning record, so we will have to keep playing good, strong basketball.”
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