Pine Bluffs boys basketball is headed to the state championship game

After knocking off Tongue River 62-51 in the 2A State Semifinals, the Pine Bluffs Hornets will look to bring home their first state title since 2018 against Big Horn on Saturday night.
Published: Mar. 5, 2022 at 2:55 AM CST
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CASPER, Wyo. (Wyoming News Now) - During the 2A Regionals last week, the Pine Bluffs boys basketball team suffered a setback falling 54-46 in the second round to Big Horn, which forced them to face a win and get in game on Saturday. They won Saturday to enter the 2A State Tournament in Casper this weekend as the third seed out of the east.

In the first round on Thursday, the Hornets met the challenge versus Shoshoni to get to the semifinals versus Tongue River, who won Pine Bluffs’ regional last weekend.

The two schools were the final game of the day on Friday, and they both knew that a trip to the state championship game was on the line.

The Hornets took a 30-23 lead into the half, but Tongue River wasn’t going away quietly. The Eagles pushed Pine Bluffs down the stretch, but they were unable to wrangle the lead.

Stuart Lerwick, who is the Hornets’ leading scorer this season, picked up his fourth foul late in the third quarter, but Ryan Fornstrom and Reed Thompson were driving forces and contributed meaningful offense and defense to preserve the lead.

“[When] Stu went off the floor, Reed and I kinda knew we had to take over in some ways,” said Fornstrom after the game. “I knew just taking care of the ball and calming everybody down. I rushed a little bit for a while, and then, I finally got myself calmed back down and got myself to the free-throw line where I know I can hit shots.”

Pine Bluffs advanced with a 62-51 victory and will face Big Horn in the 2A State Championship at 8 p.m. at the Ford Wyoming Center.

Fornstrom led the Hornets with 18 points and also grabbed seven rebounds. Thompson added 16 points and six boards of his own, and Lerwick had 11 points and nine rebounds, which was one shy of a double-double.

The Hornets haven’t been to the state title game since 2019. Pine Bluffs Head Coach Tyler Kimzey said the feeling is “excellent” to be headed back to the state championship game.

“We’ve had this monkey on our back the last couple [of] years,” said Kimzey. “Heck, I think we’ve been in [the semifinals] eight of the last 10 years or something. Something close to that, and it doesn’t always end this way, but this team has worked hard, and they’ll all enjoy it. It’s a fun atmosphere.”

The Hornets have made the 2A semifinals in seven out of the last eight years, and they’ll look to bring home their first state title since 2018 (Kimzey’s first year as head coach in Pine Bluffs) on Saturday.

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