WHEATLAND – Torrington High School boys’ basketball split its weekend 3A Southeast Quadrant matchups with Wheatland and Burns.
On Friday, a pregame technical foul on Wheatland gave Torrington an early lead, and it proved to be the only lead of the game for the Blazers in a 61-47 loss.
Torrington trailed 4-3 with 6:15 left in the opening quarter when Wheatland started to pull away behind the 31 points from Bulldog senior Kade Preuit.
“Kade is a really good basketball player and a really kid, but playing at home on Senior Night, he was ready to go,” THS coach Logan Barker said. “We struggled to keep them out of the paint. That’s something we’ve been working on recently, and the next time we see them, we’ll be a little bit better prepared with our defense.”
The Bulldogs scored seven straight points before junior Ben Firminhac and senior Kieser Wolfe hit back-to-back shots to slow the run.
Wheatland’s lead reached double-digits early in the second quarter.
With 2:35 left in the second, senior Cole Parriott knocked down a 3-pointer bringing the Blazers back within eight at 27-19. It proved to be as close as Torrington came to seeing the lead the remainder of the evening.
Wolfe led the team with 16 points and seven rebounds, while Parriott and senior Deagan Keith had seven points apiece.
The next day, the Blazers returned home to face Burns on Senior Night. Torrington edged the visiting Broncs, 41-40.
“It was a big one for our kids. They played well together and were ready to go from the beginning,” Barker said. “I could not be more proud of them and the seniors for what they’ve done for the program so far.”
After trailing for most of the first quarter, the Blazers strung together a scoring run at the end of the quarter to take a 16-13 lead into the second.
Burns chipped away at the Torrington lead taking a brief lead, but the Blazers took a 21-20 lead into halftime.
Both teams combined for 20 points in the second half, including 11 in the third quarter and nine in the fourth.
“It was kind of stagnant for both teams in that fourth quarter,” Barker said. “The second it came down to the wire, we came off a timeout and knew what the situation was. We knew they could score a two, and we didn’t have to take the ball out. They took the two, and we walked out with a victory.”
It was Parriott who sealed the win for Torrington at the free throw line, an area which the team struggled with in the first half.
Torrington had gone 0-for-8 at the free throw line in the first half, and Barker challenged the team’s goal in the second half to make 100% of their attempts.
That’s what the Blazers did in the second half.
“Cole hit two huge ones down the stretch, and there is a reason why we call him Mr. Reliable,” Barker said.
The win snapped an eight-game losing streak, but through it all, Barker hasn’t seen the team waver.
“Yes, when you lose a few games, your confidence goes down, but I haven’t seen them waver in the way they’ve prepared,” he said. “Going into regionals, we know we can compete with anybody, so we’ll be ready to rock and roll.”
Wolfe and junior Skyler Sargent led the team with 10 points each, while Keith chipped in nine.
The game marked the final home game for seniors Caden Engle, Wolfe, Parriott, Keith and Ryder Hackbarth.
“These seniors have been the absolute foundation of what we are trying to build. It hasn’t been the smoothest sailing from the beginning of the year, but they showed us why they deserve to be on the court and deserve to be the foundation of our program,” Barker said. “They own that, and they move forward with that. Their leadership and work ethic is what has propelled us to success and hopefully propel us to success at regionals.”
The Blazers (6-14 overall and 1-4 in the 3A Southeast Quad) wrap up the regular season at Rawlins on Friday, Feb. 25. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.
“We’re going to go try to make something happen down there and be ready to go for regionals,” Barker said.