Burlington was seemingly well on its way to winning a fourth consecutive state title Saturday at the Wyoming State High School Class 1A Boys Basketball Championship.
The Huskies led Snake River 15-4 after the first quarter, 30-17 at the half and 43-26 late in the third.
The Rattlers weren’t about to go away quietly.
Junior JD Corson and freshman Riggen Myers sparked a 7-0 run, capped by Corson’s putback, to cut the Huskies’ advantage to 43-33 to start the final period.
Torey Wardell got the Huskies back on track.
The junior hit a 3-pointer to stop the Snake River run and key Burlington’s 66-43 victory at the Casper Events Center.
“I think that took all their momentum away,” the Burlington junior said. “After that we were able to settle down again and play at our pace.”
That pace included pounding the ball inside to junior Dallin Davidson and senior Dallin Christiansen, who combined for 37 points and 14 rebounds.
“Those guys give us great balance,” Wardell said. “We can either hit the outside shot or get the ball inside.”
Davidson was almost a no-show for the game after spending Friday night battling flu-like symptoms.
Come game time, though, the 6-foot-1 forward was more than ready.
He made 7 of 8 shots from the field and 5 of 6 from the free-throw line and was a constant presence on the defensive end of the floor against the undersized Rattlers.
“He came through big for us,” Burlington head coach Matthew Davidson said of his son. “And that’s what this team is built on — toughness, defense and rebounding.”
Burlington now joins Cheyenne Central (1942-45), LaGrange (1958-61) and Gillette (1992-97) as the only boys program to win four consecutive titles.
Prior to the Huskies’ run, Snake River won three in a row (2011-13). Saturday, though, the Rattlers were unable to stop Burlington from doing them one better.
“It came to an end tonight,” Snake River head coach Paul Prestrud said of the Rattlers’ season. “We just never got started. We’ve struggled against zones all year because we don’t have a big guy inside to cause teams to guard us in the paint and Burlington took advantage of that.”
Asked what it meant to win four state titles in a row, Christiansen, one of just three seniors on the roster, smiled.
“I’m relieved,” he said. “And I’m excited what these guys are going to do next year.”
Don’t expect any mention of a five-peat to be coming out of Burlington, however. Not when nobody in the program even discussed the possibility (probability?) of a four-peat this season.
“Each one of them is different,” Matthew Davidson said. “Because each one of them is based on the individual team.”
Wardell agreed with his coach’s assessment, stating that the Huskies take each game at the state tournament “one at a time.”
But he also knows what will be at stake next year when he’s a senior.
“We’ve created a whole new standard,” he said.