CASPER – Torrington High School girls' basketball coach Jeff Halley described the 2020-21 season as a roller coaster season filled with highs and lows, and unfortunately for the Lady Blazers, the 2020-21 season came to close on one of the low notes.
After winning the 3A Southeast Quadrant tournament to reach the 3A East Regional championship game, the Lady Blazer squad went cold, going winless at the Class 3A State Tournament in Casper on Wednesday and Thursday.
"We picked the wrong weekend to shoot poorly," Halley said. "When the ball didn't go in, people start getting frustrated and then it snowballs."
Over the two days, Torrington shot 19-for-91 (20.8%) combined for the two games.
On Wednesday morning at Casper College's Swede Erickson Thunderbird Gym, Torrington spotted the Worland Warriors a 10-0 before Mattie Jones put the Lady Blazers on the scoreboard with 1:30 left in the opening quarter in a 47-28 loss.
"It was too bad. I thought we had a really good, even match up with Worland," Halley said. "They have some good posts and some good shooters."
He thought the lack of experience may have played a part in that.
"They won state volleyball, and we have only two or three kids who have been to state basketball," Halley said. "I think that might have been part of it, but I thought we had a better chance of coming out and battling. They proved us wrong."
Junior Reece Halley and THS cut the Worland lead to six with 5:42 remaining in the second quarter, but it proved to be as close Torrington came to regaining the lead.
The Lady Warriors closed out the first half with an 11-3 run take a 23-9 lead into halftime.
Worland continued to see its lead grow in the third quarter, pushing it to 37-17 heading into the final eight minutes of the game.
With the game out of reach, both teams turned their benches with the quick turnaround with the shortened two-day format for season-ending tournament.
Torrington shot 20% (8-of-40) from the floor, including 1-of-10 from the 3-point line.
Halley led the Lady Blazers with 10 points and five rebounds. Sophomore Kalissa Reyes and junior AJ West added four points each.
The loss sent the Lady Blazers to an elimination game on Thursday afternoon against a familiar foe in the Wheatland Lady Bulldogs.
On Thursday morning at the Ford Wyoming Center, the Lady Blazers looked to change the fortune of a slow start the day before.
Torrington grabbed an early 5-0 lead, but it was quickly erased as the Wheatland offense got warmed up, handing the Lady Blazers a 57-34 season-ending loss.
"We started out with a little more fire. We played better defense against Wheatland, but they caught fire," Halley said. "They had kids stepping up that haven't been a threat all year."
THS led much of the opening quarter until a late bucket by the Lady Bulldogs tied the game at seven heading into the second quarter.
Wheatland grabbed its first lead of the game early in the second quarter, but Halley's two free throws put Torrington back in front 11-10 with 6:56 left in the first half.
As the second quarter wore on, Wheatland started knocking down a number of 3-pointers.
"We knew we had to slow (Khayla) Otero down, but (Alyssa) Matthews started making shots from everywhere," Halley said. "Then, we couldn't make a shot. Our offense is predicated on getting the ball inside, and they had seen us enough to know they were going to have to pack down Reece. She was double and tripled-teamed most of the day."
WHS was 5-of-9 from deep in the first half and was 7-of-12 from beyond the arc early in the third quarter as the Lady Bulldogs pulled away from Torrington.
By the end of the third quarter, Wheatland's lead reached 43-26.
Over the final eight minutes, Wheatland outscored Torrington, 14-8.
Halley led the Lady Blazers with 14 points and nine rebounds. Senior Michaela Moorehouse added six points and six rebounds, and senior Tannya Woodruff added five points and four rebounds.
"It was a perfect storm," Halley said. "We couldn't get our post going and our guards had trouble making shots."
Torrington shot 21.4% (11-of-52) from the floor, while allowing Wheatland to shoot 50% (20-of-40).
The Lady Blazer season closed with an 11-12 record.
"It was kind of a strange year. I told the kids, it was a roller coaster. There were days where got some huge wins and we had some days where we had some tough losses that maybe shouldn't have happened," Halley said. "The good thing is, we played. We had a full season. We jumped through all the hoops with COVID. I'm really proud of our girls for how they persevered. It was a tough way to end a pretty good year. We had moments where we looked really good and moments where we looked really bad. We just hit the bottom at state."