Blazers fall to Worland, Powell
CASPER – The Torrington High School boys’ basketball team went winless in their first appearance at the Wyoming 3A State Basketball Tournament since the 2019 season.
The Blazers fell to Worland and Powell during their stay at state.
“Like I said before, there were a lot of teams that didn’t think we’d even be close to scratching that surface, but we did,” THS coach Logan Barker said. “I was really proud of our kids for that.”
On Thursday at the Ford Wyoming Center, Torrington and Worland had to wait all day to get their game in, playing the 9 p.m. contest.
The top-seeded Worland Warriors raced out to a 9-1 lead, cruising to a 72-32 win over the Blazers.
“We played the Worland Warriors first, which, looking back on it, they won a state champion,” Barker said. “It’s a little better to say, but they were a little shell shocked being on that stage. None of those kids had stepped on a state tournament floor before. It was an eye-opening experience, but it’s an experience they are going to want to get back and give it another go.”
The lone point scored in the first three and a half minutes of the game, came from a free throw from senior Skyler Sargent.
Torrington’s first field goal came with 4:11 left in the opening quarter courtesy of Sargent.
In fact, by the end of the first quarter, Sargent had all 10 of the Blazer points as the team found itself down 20-10 at the end of the quarter.
The Warrior lead continued to grow throughout the second quarter, thanks in large part to Worland’s suffocating full-court press.
“Going back and looking at the film, we had a lot of tunnel vision,” Barker said. “The stage, the nerves and the inexperience caught up with us at the same time which didn’t lead to a very good outing against the diamond press.”
Torrington managed to add only five points in the second quarter, as the Warrior lead jumped to 38-15 at halftime.
The third quarter featured Worland’s biggest offensive output of the game, adding 23 more points, while Torrington had a stretch of four minutes without a point between a pair of 3-pointers by sophomore Ned Nelson.
Leading 61-23 going into the fourth quarter, it didn’t take long for the Warriors to push the lead to 65-25, kicking in the running clock rule for the remainder of the game.
The Blazers turned the ball over 22 times which resulted in 33 Worland points. The Warriors shot a blistering 63.6% (28-of-44) for the game, including 70.6% in the second half.
Sargent led Torrington with 14 points, while Nelson had eight. Freshman Landre Greiman grabbed a team-high five rebounds.
Powell went on to defeat Lyman 37-35 on Saturday to win the Class 3A state championship.
The next day, a late run by the Powell Panthers sank the Blazer season with a 43-29 loss at the Natrona County High School gym.
“Powell is also very well coached and have a lot of great athletes,” Barker said. “They came out and battled the entire game. The score doesn’t show how close the game was the entire time. It was a four-point ballgame with four minutes left in the fourth quarter.”
Torrington grabbed an early 5-2 lead behind four points from senior forward Ben Firminhac and a free throw from senior guard Ryan Baker.
However, Powell scored five of the next seven points to tie the game at seven going into the second quarter.
Greiman put Torrington back in front 9-7 in the opening seconds of the second quarter.
The Blazer lead reached as many as 13-9 with five minutes left in the half, but the Panthers scored the next four points to tie the game again.
Powell took a brief lead 14-13 lead, but Greiman, once again, put Torrington back in front 15-14.
The Panthers scored the final three points of the half to take a 17-15 lead into the break.
The lead change just before half proved to be the seventh and final lead change of the game.
Sargent tied the game up again at 17 only 30 seconds in the third quarter, but Torrington never saw the lead again.
A 3-pointer by Nelson with 6:19 left in the game, drew the Blazers back with one at 28-27.
That was as close as Torrington came to seeing the lead again.
Powell closed out the game on a 15-2 run, ending the Blazer season.
The Panthers were able to pull away late due to THS going into foul mode, trying to extend the game.
“I was extremely proud of how hard those kids battled back and fought,” Barker said. “It would have been easy for them to pack it in after losing the first-round game. They came out ready to play and show everyone what they had. They played as well as they had all year.”
The second-year coach credits his trio of seniors – Firminhac, Sargent and Ryan Baker – for their leadership and keeping the team pushing forward.
Firminhac led THS with eight points, while Greiman and Nelson had six each. Greiman also grabbed a team-high nine rebounds.
Torrington season ends with a 10-16 record.
“A lot of our younger kids have stepped up this year and are ready to take on that varsity role next year,” Barker said. “It was a new experience for our kids, and I know they want to get back. I think they now understand what type of work that has to be done to excel on a stage like that. Those younger kids are thirsty to go compete. They are still raw, but that’s what is coaching is for. We’ll do our best to make sure they are prepared for that stage.”