Saturday was one of those almost but not quite days for the Campbell County boys soccer team. Top-ranked and consensus favorite to win the Class 4A state soccer tournament, the Camels fell just …
LARAMIE — The shots were falling early for Wyoming and it looked like a laugher was in the making. North Carolina Central then turned a 15-point deficit into a three-point lead, and it appeared that the host team was in for a battle down the stretch.
But Wyoming turned up the defense to regain control on the way to a 73-60 win Wednesday night in the opener of the Global Sports Hoops Showcase, a three-day, four-team, round-robin tournament.
“I thought the team I saw the second half was the team that we’ve seen in practice every day — a team that gave up 24 points, a team that gave up 26 percent from the field — and a team that shared the ball really well offensively,” Wyoming coach Larry Shyatt said.
Luke Martinez sank four 3-pointers and scored 20 points — three short of a career high — while Leonard Washington had 17 points and 10 rebounds for Wyoming (2-0). Derrious Gilmore added 10 points for the Cowboys while Larry Nance Jr. pulled down 13 rebounds and had five points.
Ray Willis had 20 points and eight rebounds while Jeremy Ingram scored 11 for North Carolina Central (1-2).
“Wyoming was tougher than we were, plain and simple,” Central coach LeVelle Moton said.
“Where you allow a team to shoot 50 percent — we’re giving up layups and open 3-pointers - they deserve to win. . We’re just not tough enough yet.”
The Eagles erased early 10-0 and 25-10 deficits, taking their first lead on a 3-pointer by Stanton Kidd early in the second half and then pushing their advantage to 43-40 on two free throws by Ingram. The teams swapped the lead three more times until Wyoming freshman Austin Haldorson put the Cowboys ahead for good with a layup at the 14:27 mark. It was the start of a 13-0 surge, which included five points from another freshman, Josh Adams, and ended with Wyoming up 57-45 at the 10:54 mark.
Central drew no closer than seven the rest of the way.
During the last five minutes of the first half, though, the Eagles, using layups and 3-pointers, outscored the Cowboys 14-2 to draw within 38-36 at halftime.
“I took a few bad shots and it kinda carried over to the defensive end,” Martinez said. “And we just kinda fell apart just a little bit there for a couple minutes. We just need to be better at shot selection.”
Washington said the focus at the break was on stopping Central’s flow.
“We just talked about playing Cowboy basketball and that’s playing hard defense,” he said. “We take pride in our defense.”
Wyoming won the rebound battle 34-23 and outshot the Eagles 50 percent to 40 percent, holding Central to 26.9 percent in the second half.
Southern defeated South Dakota 83-79 in the tournament opener.