TORRINGTON – The Torrington High School boys basketball team’s lead reached as many as 22-11 midway through the second quarter, but the visiting Wheatland Bulldogs weren’t going to go away in Friday’s 44-39 loss in Torrington.
The Blazers used a 13-0 run, spanning the first and second quarters, aiding in the double-digit lead.
Over the remainder of the game, the Bulldogs chipped away at the deficit, even taking a 32-31 lead midway through the fourth quarter.
“We got stagnate on offense. It seemed like we didn’t handle success very well,” THS coach Neil Baker said. “We got a few buckets, and we thought it would be easy. We made some poor decisions.”
He also credited the Bulldog zone for making things difficult on his team.
“Their zone is active, and they have long arms,” Baker said. “We had a hard time getting the ball to the high post and penetrating. They did a really good job of playing defense.”
Over the final four minutes of regulation, the teams swapped the lead on two occasions.
Torrington senior Jordan Malm tied the game at 34 with a deep 3-pointer.
The Blazers followed the bucket up by forcing a turnover in the full-court press, resulting in two more points.
On the ensuing possession, the Torrington junior forward Sam Firminhac tallied a shot block, while Malm went 1-of-2 at the line, giving the Blazers a 37-34 lead with less than 10 seconds left on the clock.
Some miscommunication on the defense by Torrington led Wheatland’s Kobey Preuit to drain a 3-pointer at the buzzer to force the extra period.
“I’ll take credit for a mix up at the end because we had a switch on that last play when they hit the 3 to send it to overtime,” Baker said. “We were going to try to foul because we had one to give. We had some miscommunication as to who was guarding the inbounder and guarding the other guy.”
In overtime, the Blazers scored the first seven points of the period, leading to a 44-37 lead.
Wheatland scored its only points of the extra period as time expired in the game.
“In the overtime, our kids did really well. We came out, got a couple stops and made our free throws,” Baker said. “I was happy with the way we finished.”
Malm led the Blazers with 12 points, while senior Jared Lemmon made his season debut, adding 10 points. Bryan Lemmon tossed in nine.
“(Jared) played really in the first half. He’s another guy that makes pretty good decisions, will hit his shots and drive a little bit,” Baker said. “He had been waiting a long time getting over the (football) injury. I was happy for him to have such a good night.”
The next day, the Blazers entered a little bit of an unknown, facing the Burns Broncs.
However, it really didn’t matter as the Blazers rolled to a 75-41 win over the Broncs.
Malm had a team-high 22 points.
Torrington (8-3 overall and 2-0 in the Southeast Quadrant) travels to Gering, Neb. on Tuesday.