Burlington won the game it needed most, but it was the other game of the weekend — a three-point loss to district rival Rocky Mountain — that won’t soon be forgotten by players, coaches and fans.
Coach Matt Davidson called the 53-50 loss “a great contest” and said he was very pleased with his team’s efforts. “It well may have been our best team performance against the best team that we have faced this season,” he said.
“We did a much better job of handling the end-of-the-game situation than in previous close contests. We stepped up defense, created some turnovers, and cut the lead to three. On the last possession of the game, we made a big defensive play and stole the inbound pass and kicked it out for a nice 3-point look.
“The basket didn’t drop but we did what was needed to be in a position to tie.”
Torey Wardell showed a lot of heart, leading the Huskies with 18. “He had flu symptoms and played through it in a pretty amazing manner,” said Davidson.
Dallin Davidson was a huge influence defensively, he added. He had nine blocks and caused many shots to be altered. He also led rebounding with six and added 10 points.
Dontae Garza, who was “active everywhere, contributed 12 points, four rebounds, and four assists.
“Our guards helped us rebound more than in any previous game,” said Davidson. Derec Davidson had four, Jake Cook and Tallon Wiles each had three. “This is big when we are playing a team with so many athletic players who rebound well,” said Davidson.
Jake Cook led in steals with four and scored five points.
Tallon Wiles also put in four points and had three assists.
Tanner Jones and Jarom Davidson “both gave us strong defensive support when they subbed in,” said Davidson. “This was critical when our starters needed to rest or had foul troubles.”
“We managed the ball pretty well with 13 turnovers compared to their 20. The big difference in the game was free throws. They made 18 compared to our 11. In the fourth quarter we had to play more aggressively, which resulted in too many fouls. For us to compete with this caliber of team was a win. The next level will be to be able to compete with and defeat that caliber of team.”
Only because it was a conference game did Burlington’s class with Meeteetse carry more weight. The Huskies had no trouble, prevailing 58-15 to open their conference slate with a victory.
“The boys started ready to go,” said Davidson. “They led at the end of the first quarter 19-2. Our defense was consistent and generated some easy transition points early on.
“We had the opportunity to play all of varsity members for lots of minutes. This helps the younger guys become more confident in varsity competition. They did well.”
Tanner Jones “had a strong game,” with six rebounds and four points.
Torey Wardell, Dallin Davidson, Dontae Garza, and Tallon Wiles “all played well with limited minutes,” according to the coach.
Dontae Garza led scoring with 15, Torey Wardell added 13, Dallin Davidson nine, Tallon Wiles five, Jake Cook four, Jarom Davidson and Zane Davidson with three apiece. Ammon Bullinger and Eric Davidson “also had some good varsity minutes,” said Davidson.
“Our overall shooting percentage was 44 percent, which is one of our better games. We held them to 10 percent shooting from the field. However, our free throw percentage was only 60 percent, which isn’t too good. We rebounded well and moved the ball well. It was a good team effort.”
The Huskies will continue their first trip through the conference this weekend, with games at home Friday night against Dubois (7 p.m. tipoff) and at high-scoring St. Stephens on Saturday (5 p.m.).
“It looks like St. Stephens is putting up lots of points in their games. We’ll have to contain their shooters,” said Davidson. “We will continue to work on defensive rotations and offensive execution this week in practice.”
By Nathan Oster