By BRETT MARSHALL

bmarshall@gctelegram.com

SYRACUSE Cimarron coach David Ediger and Syracuse's Mark Akers have been around the coaching job long enough to know that good defense will win games when an offense is struggling.

Friday, Ediger's team got the better end of the philosophy en route to a 61-50 Hi-Plains League victory over Syracuse.

The win pushes the Lady Bluejays to 6-3 for the season while Syracuse dropped to 4-4. Both teams will enter Hi-Plains League tournament play Tuesday at Elkhart.

"We talked about a couple of things at halftime and then I thought we played solidly in the second half," Ediger said after his team clung to a 27-24 lead at halftime. "We wanted to defend the court, rebound and block out and I thought we did all three of those."

The Bulldogs climbed back into a narrow lead early in the third quarter at both 30-29 and with 33-31 before Cimarron went on an 11-0 run to take command at 42-33 with just more than a minute left in the third period.

"Twice we had the lead and twice we had the ball and turned it over," Akers said. "We're not playing physical enough, nor hard enough or tough enough to beat good teams. We've got to get more aggressive on both ends."

In the final period, Syracuse close the gap to 46-43 with 5:49 remaining, but the Bluejays went on an 8-0 run with just under four minutes to go.

Syracuse would get no closer than seven the rest of the way.

The Bluejays received a lift from sophomore point guard Avery Burns with 20 points, including 10-of-13 at the free throw line.

"I thought we played well and our main focus was to stop (Kylee) Hedberg and (Kamie) Rash and I thought we did a pretty good job of that," Burns said. Syracuse's duo of Rash and Hedberg did most of the scoring damage for Syracuse with Rash scoring a game-high 22 points and Hedberg adding 15 before fouling out midway through the fourth quarater. Hedberg also had a game-high nine rebounds.

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Cimarron 61, Syracuse 50

CIMARRON (6-3) Burns 5-10 10-13 20, Payne 0-1 4-6 4, Siek 1-2 0-0 2, Lock 3-4 1-2 7, Dupree 0-1 0-0 0, Erives 0-0 0-0 0, Bryant 3-4 2-2 8, Wehkamp 3-8 3-4 9, Ridenour 0-0 2-2 2, Helfrich 3-9 2-6 8. Totals 18-39 24-35 61.

SYRACUSE (4-4) Rash 6-13 8-11 22, Sharp 2-5 0-0 5, Martinez 0-1 0-0 0, Gordanier 0-1 2-2 2, Cashler 0-2 0-0 0, Nairn 2-7 0-1 4, Dowell 0-1 0-0 0, Graber 0-1 0-0 0, Hedberg 5-14 5-7 15, Darnell 0-0 0-1 0, Gerard 1-2 0-3 2. Totals 16-47 15-25 50.

Cimarron 10 17 17 17 -- 61

Syracuse 11 13 11 15 -- 50