TORRINGTON – The Torrington High School girls’ basketball team had mixed results as the team returned to Class 3A Southeast Quadrant action over the weekend.
The Lady Blazers fell to the Wheatland Lady Bulldogs at home on Friday evening 51-45 but bounced back for a dominating 74-54 road victory over the Burns Lady Broncs on Saturday.
On Friday, Torrington never led in the loss to Wheatland.
THS coach Jeff Halley challenged his team before the game.
“Make this a big game. Get used to playing in a pressure situation because the next three weeks, if we are going to make it to state, they need to feel those pressure situations,” he said. “Maybe it’s a good thing we did that because of how we reacted in the pressure situation, and it wasn’t good. We need to get over that so by the time the quad, one-and-done, tournament comes around, we’ll be a little more prepared.”
The visitors jumped out to a 9-4 lead, forcing the Lady Blazers to use a quick timeout midway through the first quarter.
“We worked on a couple new looks, and we couldn’t even run those. That’s all we did last week – run against Wheatland’s defense,” Halley said. “We knew what they were going to do. Once we got to game speed, all that work went out the window. It’s frustrating. We are better than we are playing.”
In the third quarter, trailing 23-14, junior guard AJ West started to heat up, knocking down a pair of 3-pointers, and junior Mattie Jones back it up with a steal and layup to cut the deficit to three.
“Wheatland played well. (Khayla) Otero had a great game,” Halley said. “Thank goodness AJ West had a big night shooting, or we would have gotten blown out.”
The teams traded buckets with West hitting her third trey of the quarter, cutting the Wheatland lead to 27-25.
Torrington never got any closer than one. With 3:45 remaining in the game, junior Reece Halley’s bucket made it 38-37.
“Mentally, we don’t stay together enough. We do stupid things at bad times,” Halley said. “Like right there at the end, we were trying to switch defenses, and we had three playing one defense, one playing another and the other just floating around. Our mental focus has to get better if we are going to beat one of these top teams.”
“I like the way we fought back, but when we got it there, we lost our focus again,” he added. “It’s disappointing that this time of year, we can’t focus for a long enough stretch to put it together for 32 minutes. That’s our most frustrating thing right now.”
Over the remainder of the game, Wheatland slowly pulled away for the six-point victory.
West and Halley led the team in scoring with 14 apiece. Halley also grabbed a team-high 12 rebounds.
As a team, Torrington shot 24% (15-of-63) from the floor.
THS had a quick turnaround with a road trip to Burns.
“Burns will give us all we want,” Halley said. “They sat there and watched us and saw what we don’t do well. They always play and shoot better at home.”
On Saturday, it proved to be a much different story for the Lady Blazers who raced out to a 19-2 lead on Burns and cruised to the 20-point victory.
“We played much better on Saturday. We played relaxed and everyone contributed to a good team win,” Halley said. “We got rolling in the first quarter, and AJ kept up her hot shooting.”
By halftime, the Lady Blazer lead was 38-15, but the two teams played virtually even for the remainder of the contest.
“We put up a pretty big lead and just worked on some things and personnel from there,” Halley said. “It was a nice bounce back after Friday.”
A total of 10 Lady Blazers scored at least two points in the win. West led the team in scoring with 21 points, shooting 40% (8-of-20) from the floor, including 5-of-10 from 3-point range. Allen added 16 and 10 rebounds, while Halley had 10 points and 12 boards.
Torrington (8-9 overall and 3-2 in the 3A Southeast) wraps up the regular season with a trip to Rawlins (3-10 and 1-3) on Friday, Feb. 26. Action is scheduled to begin at 5:30 p.m.
“We know what’s ahead of us, we just have to do something about it,” Halley said.