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Run ‘n gun Cody Fillies chasing Class 4A repeat

Cody Fillies Basketball
Posted at 6:00 AM, Mar 03, 2024

CODY, Wyo. — When visiting teams bus up the highway climbing toward Cody's picturesque backdrop, they understand girls basketball outcomes inside Sweitzer Gymnasium may not be nearly as pretty.

The hometown Fillies love to run ‘n gun pushing themselves into Wyoming's last three Class 4A state championship games. After punching out perfect last season, they ultimately hung a 2023 title banner from the gym rafters. Now they’re on track to go back-to-back on that title chase, in spite of an unusual season-opening outcome against Campbell County.

“(We) kind of came out, lost our first one, got hit in the mouth a little bit,” recalled Fillies head coach Chris Wagner to MTN Sports after a recent practice.

The champs lost by 17, then won 17 straight to close this regular season.

Thing is, they’re a young team with only two seniors, including Wyoming’s reigning Gatorade Girls Basketball Player of the Year Molly Hays who knew early on hoops was her sport.

“Probably third grade. I was like, this is my thing," Hays said. "I’d always done rec leagues and all that, but (then) I did a travel team.”

Ironically, she traveled at the time with players she would continue to run with through last year’s state championship win. Hays’s next stop is Idaho State where her brother is a quarterback.

As the Fillies started their current run, they also picked up a surprise senior who, at one point, thought basketball may be over. Riley Simonee tore her ACL freshman year then sat out the next two.

“I missed it and wanted to get back in the game again," she said. "So, senior year I decided I wanted to go out again.”

The timing couldn’t have been better for Cody’s young squad, though Simone admits it’s been challenging.

“I lost some of the fine skills that you need like ball handling and stuff. It’s been a lot of work getting it back but I’m really enjoying it,” she said.

The Fillies were also tested during a quick stretch this season without Hays.

“She broke her nose and got a concussion, so we had to do a weekend without her," Wagner said. "It forced a little bit of adversity without her, and those other players really had to step up and go.”

Which they did as Cody managed to beat two of their better regional teams.

It's worth noting the powerhouse Fillies don’t mind having a little fun. To close practice on this particular afternoon, players were laughing and line dancing to reggae music at mid-court. That's about as slow as any team will catch them — at least offensively — storming into state tournament action this week.

“You know, we put up a lot of points," Wagner added, "... but a lot of that is driven by our defense."