WHEATLAND – The Torrington High School boys’ basketball team will head to the state tournament as the No. 3 seed after picking three wins at the 3A East Regional Tournament in Wheatland over the weekend.
In the opening round, Torrington jumped out to a 16-8 lead courtesy of 10 straight points from senior Jordan Malm, but Newcastle wasn’t going to go anywhere.
By the end of the opening frame, the Dogies cut the Torrington lead to 19-17.
The Blazers held on to the lead, extending its advantage to 29-21 with two and a half minutes left before halftime.
However, the Dogies answered with another run, spanning into the early moments of the third quarter.
“Good teams make runs and we talked about it all week, they were going to make a run,” THS coach Neil Baker said. “Every time, they made a run, we came back. They are experienced kids and they don’t want to be done. They want to play another week.”
By the time senior Jared Lemmon got the Blazers back into the scoring column, Newcastle had scored 14 straight points to grab a 35-29 lead.
With 2:32 left in the third, Malm put the Blazers back on top, and it was a lead Torrington held on to for the remainder of the game.
“This bunch of guys struggled through a rough patch in January and February,” Baker said. “We talked all week how that was going to benefit us if we get into a tight game like this one. We weren’t rattled because we’ve dealt with tight game after tight game.”
Malm led all scorers with 30 points, while junior Sam Firminhac added 10 points.
The win advanced the Blazers to the semifinal matchup with Buffalo.
It was a game which the Bison ran away with to the tune of a 60-36 victory.
“Friday was difficult,” Baker said. “We didn’t come out really well. Buffalo came out and hit everything.”
Firminhac led the Blazers with 10 points, while senior Trace English and Malm had six each.
The loss put Torrington in a must-win situation against the Douglas Bearcats on Saturday morning.
It was a back-and-forth affair throughout the game.
“It was a pretty even first half. Then in the second half, we had trouble scoring in the second half. In the third quarter, (Kenyion) Townsend had 12 points in the quarter by himself.”
The Blazers found themselves down 39-30, and that’s when they decided to change things up defensively.
“We went back to the zone and it made a difference for us,” Baker said.
In the closing moments, Malm sealed the win with a pair of free throws to put Torrington up four in 54-50 win.
Malm had 22 points, while Bryan Lemmon had 14 points. Jared Lemmon tossed in 11.
“It was a great win for the guys,” Baker said. “Our shooting has been what it was most of the season, but we found a way to make the plays when we had to. It was quite a relief for the kids.”
The victory locked up the trip to state, but the Blazers had to bounce back and play for seeding purposes later in the day against Newcastle.
In the third-place contest, Torrington was victorious again over the Dogies, 58-56.
“It was one of those games where we felt like we were in control the whole time, but we just kept missing some easy shots and free throws,” Baker said. “We had a hard time separating from them.”
Torrington let a 10-point lead slip through its fingers as Newcastle’s Dylon Tidyman tied the game up at 56.
On the ensuing possession, Jared Lemmon was called for an offensive foul, giving the ball back to Newcastle with seven seconds remaining in the game.
Jared Lemmon returned the favor by stepping in front of Tidyman, taking a charge of his own.
It left 1.8 left on the clock Jared Lemmon received the inbounds pass but missed the shot, but Posten was in the right place at the right time to grab the rebound and put it back through the net in one motion as time expired.
Malm had 20 points, while Firminhac had 14. Bryan Lemmon had 10 points.
The Blazers (13-10) will face the Powell Panthers (10-12) on Thursday at noon at the Casper Events Center.