By JASON ELMQUIST
CIMARRON — The Cimarron boys basketball team had the taller players, the bigger players, but Ulysses didn't care as the Tigers scratched and clawed their way to a 47-36 victory on Tuesday.
"We battled to the end, but we gave up some key offensive rebounds there in the fourth quarter," Cimarron coach Doug Minneman said. "We had kind of closed the gap and forced them to miss a shot, but then they would get a second or third shot and finally score."
Through the first three quarters Cimarron dominated most statistical categories — except for scoring, as Ulysses held a 32-28 lead heading into the fourth. But when the final quarter began, Ulysses' intensity went up a notch and Cimarron couldn't counteract it.
"Before the fourth quarter, I told them we need to pick up the energy level and I felt like they did that for the most part," Ulysses coach Jason Jones said.
The Tigers outrebounded the Bluejays 16-5 in the fourth quarter — with 5-foot-11 senior Bryce Moral hauling in eight of his game-high 13 boards in the final stanza. Moral had five offense rebounds in the fourth quarter, with several of them resulting in second-chance points.
"Bryce has an amazing nose for the ball," Jones said. "Defensively, he leads us in steals. And he probably leads us in offensive rebounds on the season. You can see it. When a ball goes up, he just beats guys to the spot and it's a fun thing to watch."
The lopsided fourth quarter gave Ulysses a 30-26 rebounding advantage.
An anomaly through the first half and through a majority of the third quarter is that neither team went to the free throw line until Cimarron's Saige Martinez made one of two with two minutes remaining in the third quarter. Ultimately, Ulysses went 4-for-4 from the line — all in the final minute of play.
Making a pair of free throws for Ulysses with 48 seconds left to give the Tigers an 11-point lead was sophomore Braden Langston, who finished with a game-high 14 points. Also knocking down a pair in the final 30 seconds was sophomore Kyler Zerr, who was the only other player to finish in double figures with 10 points.
"I just knew I had to go up to the line and make those free throws and help us win," Langston said. "I just went up there confident and made them both."
Langston did most of his damage in the first half, scoring 10 points in the opening quarters — including a pair of 3-pointers.
"Braden played really well and shot the ball well for us," Jones said. "Most of the teams that see us will probably play zone against us and we're going to need him to make shots. And he definitely did that tonight. That was nice to see him knock down a few."
Ulysses also got eight points from 5-9 sophomore Josh Jarnagin.
Leading Cimarron in scoring was senior Matt Wehkamp with eight points. All of his points came in the first half as Ulysses was able to limit his touches in the final two quarters.
"I got most of my points off of lucky little breakaways," Wehkamp said. "They changed their defense a little bit in the second half and made it a little tougher on us."
Ulysses (4-1) travels to Larned on Friday, and the Bluejays (2-3) will host Elkhart.
Ulysses 47, Cimarron 36
ULYSSES-- Zerr 3 2-2 10, Moral 3 0-0 6, Langston 5 2-2 14, Perez 1 0-0 3, Kissel 0 0-0 0, Jarnagin 4 0-0 8, Malone 1 0-0 2, Oliver 2 0-0 4, Sullivan 0 0-0 0, Porras 0 0-0 0. Totals — 19 4-4 47.
CIMARRON — Martinez 1 1-3 3, Slaven 3 0-0 6, Rueda 0 0-0 0, Blattner 3 0-1 6, Wehkamp 4 0-0 8, Bryant 2 0-0 4, Siek 2 0-1 5, Sharp 0 0-0 0, Franzitta 1 2-2 4. Totals — 16 3-7 36.
Ulysses 14 10 8 15 -- 47
Cimarron 8 11 9 8 -- 36
3-point field goals — Ulysses 5 (Zerr 2, Langston 2, Perez 1); Cimarron 1 (Siek 1). Rebounds — Ulysses 30 (Moral 13, Zerr 4, Jarnagin 4, Oliver 4), Cimarron 26 (Blattner 8, Wehkamp 5, Bryant 5). Turnovers — Ulysses 12, Cimarron 16. Total fouls — Ulysses 14, Cimarron 12. Fouled out — none.