East drops third-place game against Thunder Basin, earns No. 4 seed at State

May 11—CHEYENNE — Cheyenne East fell behind early and never recovered in a third-place match of the Class 4A East Conference tournament against Thunder Basin on Saturday inside Okie Blanchard Stadium.

The Thunderbirds dictated the pace of play over the first 10 minutes of action, but the half was all Bolts from that point during a 5-0 loss. East plays the winner of the West Conference as a result.

"The seed didn't matter as much," East coach Alex Stratton said. "The way we came out and looked mattered a lot. It mattered what our response and our mentality was."

Bolts' sophomore Hunter Fitzgerald made his presence felt early and often as he drew first blood in the seventh minute. Fitzgerald possessed the ball 12 yards from the net and used footwork to create enough space for the shot.

Less than a minute later, Thunder Basin struck again. Sophomore Diego Baeza took a pass from freshman Garrett Moore between two East defenders and beat T-Birds' senior goalkeeper Jaxon Miller to the left.

"We knew they were going to try and start hot," Miller said. "They started early and got their foot in the door right away."

East attempted to slow down the Bolts' offense with physicality recording five fouls over the first 13 minutes of play. However, the pressure continued and Fitzgerald scored his second goal of the half five minutes later.

An East free kick was possessed and blasted out of danger by Thunder Basin. Fitzgerald out-hustled East down the field and won a footrace to the ball against Miller for the shot.

The Thunderbird's backline started improving its angles to the ball and prevented a series of shots from being fired. Unfortunately for East, The Bolts added a fourth goal in the frame after Baeza managed to fend off two defenders for a pass to an open teammate.

Senior German Burriel received the pass and beat Miller for the score. The Thunderbird's saw their best chance of the half shortly after, but Bolts' sophomore goalkeeper Boone Roswadovski sprinted out of the net to stop East's Santiago Ramirez Munoz from taking a wide open shot toward the net at the end of the half.

"They saw our film and spotted our weaknesses," Miller said. "They were able to capitalize on that."

The T-Bird's were much more competitive in the second half, but the results still didn't fare in their favor. In the frame, East played sophomore Deajohn Pinto in the net and moved Miller into the field.

"We have to have confidence in ourselves and that we can win," Stratton said. "We have to have a little bit of swagger in our mentality. I believe we can do that, but we didn't really have that today."

The Bolts' managed three corner kicks in the 63rd, but East's defense put a period on each attempt. Thunder Basin added the only goal of the second half in the 66th minute courtesy of junior Lane Liston.

The T-Birds' threatened the most over the final 10 minutes resulting in a trio of saves from Roswadovski. Momentum never swung in East's direction, but the loss acts as a reset before state.

"We were more solid and fixed a lot of little mistakes," Miller said. "We came out with a better mentality."

East opens the 4A state tournament at 11 a.m. Thursday at Rock Springs against either Kelly Walsh or Jackson.

"This week will be about recovery and team bonding," Stratton said. "We need mental preparation, I don't think we have to work terribly hard. We need to understand what our purpose and goals are."


Halftime: Thunder Basin 4-0.

Goals: Thunder Basin, Fitzgerald (unassisted), 7, Thunder Basin, Baeza (G. Moore), 8, Thunder Basin, Fitzgerald (unassisted), 18, Thunder Basin, Burriel (Baeza), 28, Thunder Basin, Liston (unassisted), 59.

Shots: Thunder Basin 12, East 11. Shots on goal: Thunder Basin 8, East 7. Saves: Thunder Basin 8 (Roswadovski), East 3 (Miller 1, Pinto 2).

Corner kicks: East 1, Thunder Basin 5. Offsides: Thunder Basin 2, East 0. Fouls: East 14, Thunder Basin 11.

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Austin Edmonds covers Laramie High, University of Wyoming and community athletics for WyoSports. He can be reached at Follow him on X at @_austinedmonds.