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The young Cody boys basketball team had its work cut out for it once again Tuesday night at defending 3A state champion Worland, yet nearly put it all together to pull out an upset only to come up short in a 68-63 in thriller.

Junior Robbie Porter poured in 27 points to lead all scorers, and freshman Grady McCarten nailed six threes on his way to 22 points against the Warriors in a potential preview of what’s to come as the Broncs (0-4, 0-0) start to gel.

Junior Luke Talich scored six points in his return to the lineup after recovering from a broken finger in the 3A state championship football game.

“Tonight we came together and found opportunities for everyone to be able to do their thing to score,” Porter said. “We had a couple of people get in foul trouble early and our younger guys really came in to fill some big shoes.”

Porter got the Broncs on the board in the first on a dish from Talich to make it 3-2 Cody, but Talich picked up two quick fouls in the first and ended up sitting most of the half as the Warriors (3-1, 0-0) constantly drove to the rim and challenged the Bronc defenders.

The fouls continued to pile up early for Cody, as McCarten, Remy Broussard and Talich each finished the opening frame with two fouls apiece.

McCarten, however, ended the first frame racing up the floor and draining a triple with just 3.6 seconds left to pull the Broncs to within three at 14-11.

Another McCarten shot from deep pulled Cody closer in the second period at 16-15, before a Porter steal and spin into the lane for a bucket put the Broncs ahead 17-16 early in the frame.

Broussard and McCarten racked up their third fouls midway through the second as Worland continued to attack the rim. Most, if not all, of the Warrior points came under the basket or at the stripe.

Worland put together one of a couple of its big runs midway through the second to take a 24-17 lead.

A Porter free throw with around 3 minutes to go stopped an 8-0 run to make it 24-18 Warriors.

“I thought we made great strides moving forward from two weeks ago,” coach Jay McCarten said. “The kids played really hard and never quit. We had several two-to-three-minute stretches that the ball got stuck on offense, we didn’t get back in transition and got out of position defensively.”

Worland took advantage of those stretches, but after Talich picked up his third foul of the half on a hustle play, a Porter midrange jumper pulled the Broncs to within four at 28-24 heading into halftime.

Both teams cranked it up after the break to put together a high intensity second half.

A Porter drive and finish made it 32-29 Worland in the third before a lefty finish from Talich at the rim pulled the Broncs to within a basket at 35-33 early in the third.

Kamden Niemann drained one from deep and the Broncs took the lead 36-35 and Cody looked to have all the momentum.

The Warriors finished the third on an 11-2 run, however, and took a 47-39 lead into the fourth.

Wilkins Radakovich posted up and dropped one in as the Broncs struck first in the fourth.

McCarten and Porter hit back-to-back triples to stop another Worland run to make it 55-49 Warriors midway through the frame.

“I think we moved the ball really well which opened up opportunities for us to shoot open shots,” Grady McCarten said. “I think we had great runs, worked really hard and made a huge jump from two weeks ago.”

The Broncs’ hope for a comeback were diminished as Broussard, Talich and Niemann fouled out in the fourth.

McCarten drilled a couple more shots from beyond the arc in the final moments, but Worland did just enough at the line to hold off the surge. McCarten finished with six 3’s on the night.

Niemann finished with seven points for Cody. Talich finished with six points in his return. Radakovich added two points in an effort that finally saw a full team hit the floor for the first time this season as they come back from injuries and illness.

The close score came in spite of a 7-of-19 performance at the line.

The Broncs hit the road yet again Thursday night. This time Cody will travel to Powell (1-2, 0-0) to take on the Panthers.

Tipoff is scheduled for 5:30 p.m.

“Overall, I am proud of the fight our guys had,” coach McCarten said. “We are starting to come together and it is exciting to be a part of.”

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