CHEYENNE – The defense from the top-ranked Cheyenne East girls was too much for Cheyenne South on Thursday evening.

East forced 15 first-half turnovers on its way to a 59-16 victory at Storey Gym.

“This group’s character (stood out to me today),” East coach Eric Westling said. “Their ability to listen, to understand and to be coachable. They’re in it for all the right reasons. They know what we are and what we represent, and I’m proud of that.”

East opened the game with a pair of quick baskets after junior Boden Liljedahl made a 3-pointer and sophomore Bradie Schlabs got a steal and took it the other way for the finish. That was the first of seven steals the T-Birds had in the first period. They forced 11 turnovers in the first frame, which led to 15 points.

Turnovers weren’t the only way East was finding easy buckets. South started the contest with a zone defense, but struggled to rebound while in it. East was able to pull down offensive rebounds and find second-chance opportunities.

The T-Birds continued to roll in the first period, not allowing South to find any offensive rhythm or get set up in its offense. The Bison were outscored 30-0 in the first quarter. It was the second consecutive game in which they failed to score in the first eight minutes.

“We kinda knew what they were going to do. We knew they were going to press kind of similar to what Central did (Wednesday night),” South coach Brodie Epler said. “We actually had success getting it past half-court … but we still turned it over when we got past the midline.”

Amya Smith finally got South on the board with 4 minutes, 6 seconds left in the second quarter when she was fouled by Taylor Cassat and went 1 for 2 from the free-throw line, but South trailed 34-1 at that point.

East found the bottom of the net differently in the second frame. Instead of scoring points off turnovers, the T-Birds were running through their offense fluently and waiting for quality looks to present themselves. It allowed them to take a 38-7 lead into the break. Smith scored five of the seven second-quarter points.

South continued to struggle to score, scoring just nine points for the remainder of the contest while falling to 0-11 on the season.

“I was relatively pleased with the girls as individuals not quitting,” Epler said. “As a team, we have a lot to work on. I don’t necessarily think we took a step back … but I do think we’re going to have to build our confidence back up next week in practice.”

Liljedahl finished with 14 points, and Jones added 11. East improved to 14-0 and 2-0 in Class 4A Southeast Quadrant play. South hosts Laramie on Thursday, and East squares off with Central at 6 p.m. next Friday, where it’ll look to build on its momentum.

“It’s just continuing to work hard in practice,” Jones said. “Our motto is to work over-hyped. When everyone works hard in practice, it shows in our games.”

EAST 59, SOUTH 16

Cheyenne South………. 0 7 1 8 – 16

Cheyennne East………. 30 8 10 11 – 59

Cheyenne South: Ramirez 2, Wright 6, Brennan 2, Smith 5, Taylor 0, Williams 1, Van Tassell 0, Garcia 0, Montgomery 0.

Cheyenne East: Jones 11, H. Kaufman 7, M. Kaufman 4, Schlabs 6, Oswald 4, Jardine 2, DeLong 2, Cassat 0, Fonseca 2, Liljedahl 14, Goff 3, Walsh 4, Mauthe 0.

Robert Munoz is a writer for WyoSports. He can be reached at rmunoz@wyosports.net. Follow him on Twitter @rmunoz307.

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