DOUGLAS – Torrington High School Lady Blazer head coach Jeff Halley picked up career wins No. 299, 300 and 301 over the weekend at the Douglas Classic.
The Lady Blazers had to come from behind in all three contests to help their coach reach the victory milestone.
Following Saturday afternoon’s 59-55 win over conference-foe Wheatland, Halley shrugged off the achievement.
“It just means I’m old,” he said laughing.
The win total includes his years at Newcastle and Torrington, and he estimated close to 195 of those happened at the helm of the Lady Blazer team.
On Friday, Torrington opened the tournament with a 38-32 win over the Lovell Bulldogs.
The Lady Blazers trailed 17-13 after the first quarter and 22-17 at half.
The third quarter Torrington turned the tide of the game, pitching a shutout while eliminating the deficit.
The Lady Blazers took a 26-22 lead into the final quarter before outscoring Lovell 12-10 over the final eight minutes.
Junior Sam Hill and senior Brielle Bivens led the team with eight points each, while Laura Halley added seven.
The next morning, Lander Valley raced out to a 17-7 first quarter lead, but Torrington returned the favor in the fourth quarter, outscoring the Tigers 19-6 to tally a 51-49 win, giving Halley win No. 300 for his career.
After the first quarter, the teams played to a virtual draw during the middle stages of the game before the Lady Blazers’ outburst in the final eight minutes.
Bivens led the teams with 17 points and six rebounds, while freshman Reece Halley added seven points and 10 rebounds.
In the final game of the tournament, Torrington found itself on the wrong end of the scoreboard again earlier in the going.
“We dug ourselves a hole every single game this weekend and hung in there and kept plowing and somehow pulled out three wins,” Halley said.
The Lady Blazers committed 20 turnovers and struggled on the glass, aiding Wheatland’s ability to grab an early 12-5 advantage.
“Our decision-making process is not there yet,” Halley said. “We make poor decisions, and I’m hoping that is because we are young and inexperienced. Sometimes, we make up for that with our hustle.”
The Lady Blazers trailed the entire game until late in the game when Bivens put her team on top 47-45 with a minute to play in the third quarter.
The teams swapped the lead a couple times in the early going of the fourth, but Torrington ultimately made more free throws down the stretch to give the Lady Blazers a 59-55 victory.
In the final six minutes of play, Torrington was 7 of 12 from the charity stripe, while Wheatland was 2 of 8.
Hill led the Lady Blazers with 19 points and 16 rebounds, while Bivens scored 11 and grabbed eight rebounds. In all, nine of the 12 Torrington players cracked the scoring column.
“The nice thing about this weekend, shoot, we are using all kinds of kids,” Halley said. “We’ve used all 12, and they’ve all contributed somewhere. That is awesome to have because if someone isn’t having their best day, the next one steps up.”
Torrington now turns its attention to the Cabelas Holiday Tournament in Sidney, Neb.
“We’ll have our hands full down there,” Halley said. “Our first game against Superior, Neb. It’s a small school, but they have a 6-foot, 3-inch girl who is one of the elite athletes in the state of Nebraska. She’s going to go play volleyball at Nebraska. If we happen to win that, we’ll get Mitchell (Neb.) and their 6-3 girl that is going to go play at UNLV.”
Tipoff is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. at the middle school gym on Thursday, Dec. 27.
“This was a tournament where we needed to get our wins and experience,” Halley said. “Next week, we are going to learn how to play better against some really good teams.”
Masterson, Bivens earn Hustle Award
Dani Masterson and Brielle Bivens were award with the Tiffany Rabun “Hustle” Award. Only 10 players participating in the tournament receive this award.
It is an award which is given out to players who a selection committee feels exhibits the skills and traits that Rabun possessed.