WHEATLAND – The Torrington High School girls’ basketball team snuck into this weekend’s Class 3A State Basketball Tournament as the No. 4 seed.
It took an overtime thriller on Saturday morning against 3A Southeast quadrant foe Wheatland for the Lady Blazers to punch their ticket to state.
On Thursday, the No. 3 seeded Lady Blazers stayed with the No. 2 seeded Buffalo Lady Bison for nearly a half before Buffalo pulled away for a 64-30 win.
The Lady Bison full-court press caused Torrington some issues as Buffalo led 12-5 midway through the opening quarter.
The deficit remained nearly unchanged until Buffalo’s 9-1 run to pull away late in the half.
“We played tough with them for nearly a half, but their pressure defense got to us and they pulled away in the second half,” THS coach Jeff Halley said.
The Lady Blazers shot 27 percent from the floor.
Freshman Reece Halley led Torrington in scoring with eight while grabbing 10 rebounds. Sophomore Avery Fox added six points and five rebounds.
On the consolation side of the bracket, the Lady Blazers held on to defeat Thermopolis 47-43 on Friday to keep their state tournament hopes alive.
Torrington overcame a 21-16 halftime deficit to score the victory.
In the third quarter, the Lady Blazers outscored Thermopolis 17-7 to regain the lead.
“We had probably the worst shooting woes of the season,” Halley said.
Torrington was 14 of 46 from the free throw line and shot 16 of 61 from the floor.
“Our kids kept battling and pulled out the win when we had to and stay alive,” Halley said.
Junior Sam Hill led Torrington with 13 points and nine rebounds, while senior Brielle Bivens added nine points.
The win advanced to another showdown with the Wheatland Bulldogs with the winner qualifying for the state tournament and the losing team handing in jerseys.
“We knew going in that this was going to be a battle,” Halley said. “We have already had three battles this season, and on their floor, this was no different.”
Wheatland found itself up 6-3 after one quarter, but in the second quarter, it was all Torrington.
The Lady Blazers pulled away, outscoring the Lady Bulldogs 15-5, taking an 18-11 lead into halftime.
“We pulled away on a nice run to gain the lead and pull away a little, but other than that, this game was tight the entire time,” Halley said.
Wheatland managed to tie the game at 42 in the fourth quarter to force the extra period.
“I was so proud of our defensive effort to slow down (Danielle) Brow and get a stop at the end of regulation when we had to,” Halley said.
In overtime, Reece Halley scored the only field goal of the overtime, while freshman Mattie Jones sealed the victory with a free throw.
“In regulation and in OT, our youngsters stepped up big time,” Halley said. “Throughout the game, Avery (Fox) hit a big shot or a steal when we needed it, Reece had a big game including the only bucket in OT and Mattie hit a huge free throw to put us up three at the end, and our defense came through again with another stop to send us to state.”
Later that day, the Lady Blazers hit the court once again for seeding purposes for the state tournament.
Torrington once again faced Buffalo.
The Lady Bison jumped out to a 28-7 first quarter lead, cruising to a 72-22 victory.
“That bloodbath early in the morning had taken its toll,” Halley said. “We played this one with two kids sitting out nursing bad ankles, and most of the kids were out of gas.”
Buffalo shot 91 percent from the free-throw line, 59 percent from the floor, including 71 percent from beyond the 3-point arc.
“We got caught in the perfect storm and had no legs to fight back,” Halley said.
Despite that, he felt it was a good weekend.
“It was a very good weekend for our girls and our program to get back to the state tourney,” Halley said.
Reece Halley, Hill and junior Chloe Krick led the team with four points each.
The Lady Blazers (9-14) will open state with Lyman (20-5) at 10:30 a.m. Thursday at the Casper Events Center.
“We have our hands full the first round with Lyman and McKinley Bradshaw,” Halley said. “She is a 5-10 point guard going to UW and is probably the best player in the state at all levels. We will see what we can come up with to slow her down, but other than that, I really like where we are at.”