BURNS – The Torrington High School boys’ basketball team won its first two games at the Burns Winter Classic but came up short in the tournament’s finale.
Torrington won both games on Friday against Thermopolis and Arvada, Colorado, but the Blazers fell to Pine Bluffs in the tournament’s finale on Saturday.
The season-opener for the Blazers went down to the wire, as Torrington defeated the Thermopolis Bobcats 54-53 in double overtime.
“Kudos to Thermopolis. They are a very well coached team,” first-year coach Logan Barker said.
One area Barker stressed was in free throws.
Torrington was 10-of-30 from the charity stripe.
“If we would have made our free throws, it wouldn’t have been that big of an issue,” Barker said.
“We are still growing, and it was a good way to handle adversity right from the start of the year. We’ll learn from it.”
Torrington trailed 27-20 at halftime, but the Blazers limited the Bobcats to only two points in the third quarter to tie the game at 29 apiece heading into the final quarter.
Both teams added 14 points after eight more minutes of action, ultimately forcing overtime.
The Blazers and Bobcats still couldn’t decide on a winner after four more minutes, tied at 48 apiece heading into a second overtime.
Finally, Torrington broke the tie in the second overtime to escape with the one-point win.
Junior forward Ben Firminhac led the Blazers with 20 points and 13 rebounds, while senior Kieser Wolfe added 13 points and 14 rebounds. Junior Skyler Sargent had eight points and a team-high 12 boards.
Later that night, Torrington pulled away late in a 56-39 win over Arvada, Colorado.
“It was a good game. I felt like we didn’t play to our full potential, but again, it’s a work in progress,” Barker said. “The first weekend of basketball is always a little rough, but we’ll keep working to iron some things out.”
Down 17-14 late in the first quarter, Wolfe hit a shot with eight seconds remaining in the quarter, sparking a 14-0 run.
Wolfe gave Torrington an 18-17 lead early in the second quarter, and the Blazers limited Arvada to only two points in the second quarter.
The run gave Torrington a 29-19 lead going into the locker room at halftime.
Arvada got no closer than eight points midway through the fourth quarter, but Torrington pulled away late, extending its lead to 17 in the closing moments of the game.
Wolfe led the team Blazers with 17 points, while Sargent and senior Deagan Keith added 10 points apiece. Keith also grabbed a team-high seven rebounds and dished out four assists.
In the final game of the weekend, Torrington scored the first five points, but the Blazers came up short 64-54 in the team’s first road game of the season.
Leading 5-0 behind a 3-pointer from Sargent and two points from Wolfe, Pine Bluffs quickly heated up three minutes into the game.
The Hornets used a 19-2 run take a 22-10 lead into the second quarter.
“They are a good basketball team, and there are a lot of things we need to improve on,” Barker said.
After the first quarter, the two teams pretty much played even the rest of the way with the Blazers outscoring Pine Bluffs, 44-42.
Torrington outshot the Hornets 43.2% to 40%.
Wolfe led the Blazers in scoring with 18, while Sargent added 14, including a trio of 3-pointers.
“He’s really coming into his own,” Barker said of Sargent. “It’s been a little bit of an adjustment coming to varsity basketball, but we’ll keep working with him. The more confidence he gets on the court is going to show.”
Torrington heads to the Flaming Gorge Classic Basketball Tournament this weekend. They will face Green River at 4:20 p.m. Friday and Mountain View at 8 a.m. and Grace, Idaho at 2:40 p.m. on Saturday.
“We welcome any and all competition,” Barker said. “The only thing that will make us stronger is handling adversity and handling good teams. If we want to have a chance in 3A, we need to accept that and take one on the chin every once in a while, and soon, we’ll be dealing them out ourselves.”