The Douglas boys basketball team (3-9) just missed winning its fourth game of the season, losing a 49-45 in a tightly contested matchup with the Torrington Trailblazers (4-5).
The game was so evenly matched throughout that the difference came in the first quarter.
After going down 15-11 in the first, both teams deadlocked at 34 over the next three quarters as Douglas found their footing offensively. Specifically, lack of execution at the free throw line throughout and missed easy buckets early were the difference in the eyes of head coach Chase Plumb.
“We missed too many layups early in the game. Down the stretch we missed too many free throws,” Plumb said. “We stress over and over that something as simple as a missed free throw can win you or lose you a game and it definitely cost us Friday night.”
Although inconsistency from the free throw line has plagued the Bearcats, it was particularly bad against Torrington. They only made six of 18, or 33 percent, in the loss.
Not making the free throws and other struggles are something you would expect from a team as inexperienced as Douglas. The team played three sophomores Friday, according to Plumb, but said that no longer can be an excuse 12 games into the season.
Senior AJ Yeaman is the most experienced player on the team but he missed the team’s first eight games after suffering an injury playing for the Douglas football team. Yeaman has been one of the leading scorers on the team since coming back and contributes in ways that will help the team moving forward.
“His leadership is important,” Plumb said. “Having someone who has been there, done that, he plays big minutes at point guard for us. He means a lot to the team and it’s helping get guys in better positions having him at point guard. He’s also one of the team’s best defenders, having him back on the floor will make a difference.”
Almost all of the Bearcats offense came from the trio of Yeaman, Kyle Igo and Jake Halquist. Yeaman scored 14 points, with Igo contributing 12 and Halquist adding another 10. The rest of the team combined for just eight. This trend has been pretty typical for Douglas since Yeaman has joined the team, with River Bergquist also being a major offensive contributor normally.
If the Bearcats want consistent success though, every player needs to be able to do their part offensively when called upon. With conference play coming up, the coach is keying in on quality possessions, with a continuation of the drop in turnovers and more ball movement.
“There’s times where we’re taking forced shots instead of hitting the open teammate who’s a little more active without the basketball. As we continue to play with each other that will improve, but we need to start now with quality possessions and getting the shot that we want.”