WHS athletes win postseason awards

Mark DeLap
Posted 3/21/23

Three WHS athletes win postseason awards

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WHS athletes win postseason awards


WHEATLAND – Jadea Graves, JP Anderson and Lily Nichols were all part of the Wheatland High School varsity basketball program this season and were not only instrumental in bringing success to their teams, but also were selected to receive postseason awards.

Anderson played point guard for the Bulldogs, and he was the team’s leading scorer and leader in assists. He was selected to be on the 3A East All-Conference team and is set to graduate this coming May.

“JP was a solid leader for our team,” Mick Cochran, head basketball coach said. “He did a great job of getting us into our offense and helping us execute. His ball handling and ability to deal with traps and pressure made everyone around him better. JP put in a tremendous amount of time into better himself as basketball player. He stayed after practice for at least 30 mins to fine-tune his game anytime the opportunity was available. JP was fearless and played with tremendous passion and energy. He is very deserving of the All-Conference award he received. He will be missed and hopefully we find someone with a similar approach to the game to carry on what he started.”

“I am honored to receive an all-conference selection,” Anderson said. “This season was definitely one with some ups and downs, but I am very happy that my team and myself ended up being successful. Making state is a feat in and of itself and I wouldn’t have been in a position to make all-conference if it was not for my great teammates and coaches. I am extremely proud of what we were able to accomplish this year and I am excited to see what they can do next year. Thank you to everyone who supported me and got me to this point.”

Senior Jadea Graves anchored the post this year for the Lady Bulldogs and her hard work and fierce post play did not go unnoticed by other coaches in the conference as she was awarded all-conference.

“It is a true honor to be named all-conference for the 2023 varsity 3A basketball season. It validates a lot of hard work to be voted in by coaches from across the state of Wyoming on my performance and principles this past season. For some players, this type of honor is why they play. For me, this is no different from any season; I play for the love of the game.

“To get to what being named all-conference really means to me, I must tell you how I got here. Throughout my younger years, I have played on numerous travel teams. My freshman year, I was so excited to finally become a WHS Lady Bulldog. My classmates and I were the last true freshman team in recent years, and we were pretty good! My coach even told me after the first week or two of practice that I would see some varsity play that year. I never got that opportunity, none of my freshman teammates did either. I didn't even get to play JV that year.

“Covid canceled state, so I didn't really miss much. I sucked it up and joined the "Beast" program to work on myself that summer. Sophomore year, Covid rules required that the teams be named at the beginning of the season, so the 12 players that filled the roster were the focus and I made varsity. Some of my upper-class teammates were part of the Beast program also. They illustrated great leadership and had true court awareness. I got to see significant play time and was honored to actually contribute to the team as we won consolation championship at state that year. I felt I had finally arrived. 

“Junior year was a rebuilding year as we had graduated the five senior starters. It being one of our weaker years, we finish the season with maybe the worst record in a long time. No team camaraderie led to me almost quitting the game...a game that I had loved. The following summer, I was introduced to what I now I know as my "Storm" family (travel team). I was asked to be a part of a true basketball family. They took us places. They showed me that I had value. They found my smile and reminded me why we play the game. Ironically, I have my sister to thank most, as she was there first working on her game.

“Senior year, and I had only one goal, to play my game. My teammates gained confidence with the inside pass, and I gained confidence in taking the shot. We played as a true team and won games by large margins in preseason. Conference play began and some of the old habits from last year began to show up and we hit a losing streak. Though we went into Regionals #2 seed, we were not able to pull together as a team and that ended our season without a trip to State.

“My personal stats according to WyoPreps enabled me to end my high school career leading my team in 10 fields, more than any of my teammates. The only negative fields being the team fouls, no surprise there. I landed top 10 in a couple fields at the state level as well. I am happy for my teammate, Lily Nichols, who received not only all conference but all state too. She is a hard-working individual who deserved it. I will enjoy the time that we have played together. 

“So exactly what does it mean to me to be named all-conference? It means that I didn't get here alone. It means that I had a lot of success and a lot of failures and a lot of people who helped me become the player and ultimately the person that I am today. It means that I had to learn how to believe in myself. Basketball is a team sport, and it takes all of us to play the game. This honor validates me and my hard work, but it is an honor I share with all my teammates, coaches and family.”

Junior guard/forward Lily Nichols was not only selected to the 3A East All-Conference team, but in addition, she was selected to the 2023 Wyoming High School Girls’ 3A All-State team. So far this season, Nichols has been named all-state in golf, cross-country and basketball.

“Usually, I would have to finish at the top of a race or shoot a certain score to get a medal, but basketball is different,” Nichols said. “With basketball being a team sport, your teammates are just as important to you because without them, you know there is no chance in winning a game. I know I can speak for my team when I say this season was a huge improvement from the last one. In fact, three times better; 18 wins this year compared to six wins last year. That alone is success in my mind.

“Of course, the cherry-on-top would have been to go to the state tournament, but sometimes that’s not the case. I am so proud of my team, and I am grateful that two of us were recognized as All-Conference players. I whole-heartedly believe that Jadea earned it. I, as well as Jadea, played on a travel team and worked hard over the offseason and I think that definitely gave us an edge going into the basketball season. I am happy that she can walk away from her senior year knowing she made an impression on other teams and coaches. 

“As for myself, this is the second year I have gotten All-Conference in basketball. This is my first year getting All-State, though. To be honest, that one I was not expecting, seeing as our team did not make state. I appreciate the recognition and respect I have gained over this year from my team, as well as other teams and coaches in our conference. To receive an All-State award is an honor, especially when we were not able to exhibit our abilities at the state basketball level against the western conference. 

I would like to thank my coaches and team for a memorable season and am looking forward to my senior year.”  

“Jadea and Lily played major roles in our offensive scoring this season,” Michelle Coplen, Lady Bulldog coach said. “One of them, if not both, were typically in the top two scoring for each game. This was a similar setting with rebounds. Coaches in our conference recognized this and often changed their defenses as we saw them throughout the season. Basketball is a team sport, and in order to see success the girls need each other. Everyone contributes their strengths on the team, and it allowed Lily and Jadea to focus on theirs. Each girl also broke a school record this year. Lily broke the record for most 3-pointers in a game by making five against Big Horn. This record was previously tied at four. This year Jadea broke the season rebounding record with 213. This record was previously set at 195 rebounds from the 2006/2007 season. Both girls put a great deal of effort in during season and on their own in the offseason. Their individual hard work paid off.”