Birds ready for Vista Auto Thanksgiving Classic November 24-25

By: Lisa S. Icenogle
Image for Vista Auto Thanksgiving Classic press release, 2023.

The Casper College Thunderbirds and the Lady Thunderbirds will host the Vista Auto Thanksgiving Classic on Friday and Saturday, Nov. 24-25. The T-Birds stand at 4-4 for the season, and the Lady T-Birds stand at 3-2.

Four other teams will participate in the tournament, including the Western Wyoming Community College Mustangs, the Snow College Badgers, the McCook Community College Indians, and the North Idaho College Cardinals.

The Classic will begin at 1 p.m. on Nov. 24 when the Lady Mustangs (2-3) at this writing play against the Lady Badgers (4-2). The first men’s game will tipoff at 3 p.m. and feature the Mustangs (4-4) against the Indians (2-5).

The two evening games will feature the T-Birds, with the women playing at 5 p.m. against the Lady Cardinals (3-4) and the men taking on the Cardinals (3-2) at 7 p.m.

Ladies head coach Dwight Gunnare noted that his team is coming off a strong showing last weekend with a 79-73 win over Northeastern JC and a 76-42 win over the Wyoming All-Stars. The two teams that the team will face during the Classic are both from Region 18. “The Cardinals have played a strong early season schedule with impressive wins over Northwest College and Florida South Western State. They are a very good offensive team,” he said.

According to Thunderbird men’s head coach Tom Parks, North Idaho is one of the best-coached teams in the country. “They are disciplined, strong, athletic, and they have a bunch of different offensive weapons. Now that they are back in the NJCAA, they have a chip on their shoulder as they were always one of the top teams in Region 18 before their North West Athletic Conference hiatus,” Park noted.

The tournament will conclude Saturday with four more games. The first game will begin at noon and feature the Lady Mustangs against the Lady Cardinals. The first men’s game will start at 2 p.m. when the Mustangs play against the Cardinals. At 4 p.m., the Lady T-Birds will go up against the Lady Badgers. The final game of the Classic, at 6 p.m., will feature the T-Birds against the Indians.

“Snow College has won four of their last five games,” said Gunnare. “Snow is also a strong offensive team with talent at every position. I believe keys in both games will be playing sound defense and being the better rebounding team,” he noted.

Parks said the game against the Indians will be “another great test for us. They have some talented pieces, led by their big man Noah Boyd, who recently signed to play at Baylor. They have played some very tough teams, and this will not be an easy game. As always, we need to stick to our game plan, which will involve speeding teams up, trying to take them out of what they do, and pushing the ball on offense.”

Ticket prices for the games are: adults 18 and older, $6; students 13-17, $4; seniors 60 and older, $4; and children 12 and under, free. Tickets are available at the door and are good for all games played on the same day. For more information or to purchase season passes, call 307-268-3000 or email

The “Swede” Erickson Thunderbird Gymnasium is on the Casper College campus.

Media contact: Lisa S. Icenogle

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