Garden Plain hits 26-of-36 free throws to pave way for 66-52 win.
By BRETT MARSHALL
CIMARRON — When you get to the postseason, there are no tomorrows if you don't bring your best to the court in basketball.
And nobody felt more of that on Monday night than the Cimarron Bluejays when they hosted Garden Plain's Owls in the Class 3A sub-state quarterfinals.
No matter that they were 16-4, the No. 2 seed and champions of both the Hi-Plains League tournament and regular season race. No matter that the Owls came in with a sub .500 record at 9-11.
Nope. None of that made one bit of difference to the Owls as they knocked off the favored 'Jays 66-52 in a game marked by hot-shooting by both teams and a barrage of free throws.
"Garden Plain came in here and played well, they were aggressive and intense, and we just didn't match that," Cimarron head coach Dave Losey said. "They hit some shots that we hadn't seen in film, and we struggled at the line (10 of 20) and they didn't (26-of-36)."
The biggest benefactor of the free-throw parade was Owls' freshman Nick Pauly, who calmly made all 10 of his charities, and all of those came in the crucial fourth quarter when the Bluejays could never get over the hump after trailing 43-37 at the end of three periods.
Turnovers also proved to be costly for the Bluejays, as they turned it over 24 times to just 12 for the Owls.
"We shoot 50 percent (20 of 40), we cut the turnovers in half, and we are in it, or win it," bemoaned Losey. "I don't really know if I have an explanation. We just didn't play the way we've played most of the season. I don't know if the pressure kinda got to us, or what. I just feel badly for the kids because this puts a damper on a really good season."
After trailing 26-20 at halftime, the 'Jays came out firing in the third period, and a five-point trip down the floor brought them to within one. Twice, they got the game tied, at 29 and finally at 35.
But that's when the Owls went on a 7-2 run to close out the quarter for a six-point lead.
Despite making three 3-pointers in the final period, it wasn't enough to overcome the Owls' deadly free-throw shooting, where they were 18 of 23.
The last time they were within shouting range was at 46-42 with 5:14 remaining. From there, the Owls closed it out with a 20-10 run.
Not much had gone right for the Bluejays in the first half.
Garden Plain had jumped out to a 15-11 lead in the first quarter, thanks primarily to long-range shooting, when they drained a trio of 3-pointers, two by Troy Puetz and one by Clayton Milford. The Bluejays didn't help themselves as they committed four turnovers and Caleb Fischer had to go to the bench with two fouls late in the period.
Things didn't improve much in the second quarter, either, as the Owls opened with an 8-2 run to build a 24-15 lead with 2:10 left before intermission.
A mini-run of five points pulled the Bluejays to within five at 25-20 with 27 seconds remaining. A pair of free throws by Troy Puetz made it 26-20 at the break. By intermission, the Bluejays had hurt themselves even more with nine additional miscues, totaling 13 for the first 16 minutes.
Caleb Fischer was the lone double-figure scorer for the Bluejays, finishing with 19. Clayton Milford, Pauly and Troy Puetz led the Owls with 18, 12 and 10 points, respectively.
The Owls will now await the winner of tonight's game between Cheney and Lakin. That game was scheduled for Monday but was weathered out. Semifinals for the boys will be Thursday.
Cimarron's girls were scheduled to face Southwestern Heights tonight at 7 o'clock in their quarterfinal matchup.
Garden Plain 15 11 17 23 -- 66
Cimarron 11 9 17 15 -- 52
Garden Plain (10-11) — Pauly 1-2 10-10 12, Milford 6-14 4-6 18, Doyle 1-2 0-0 2, Puetz 3-8 4-4 13, Koester 1-1 2-2 4, Joplin 1-2 2-6 4, Hageman 1-1 1-2 4, Thimesch 3-3 3-6 9, Rowold 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 17-34 26-36 66.
Cimarron (16-5) — Caleb Fischer 6-10 5-8 19, Stanley 1-2 0-0 2, Toothaker 3-7 2-2 9, Clark 2-2 0-0 4, Christian Fischer 1-5 0-2 2, B. Neuschafer 3-6 2-4 8, Pachner 4-6 0-2 9, Ast 0-3 1-2 1. Totals 20-40 10-20 52.
3-point goals--Garden Plain 6-18 (Pauly 0-1, Milford 2-7, Puetz 3-7, Joplin 0-1, Hageman 1-1, Rowold 0-1), Cimarron 4-10 (Cal. Fischer 2-5, Stanley 0-1, Toothaker 1-2, Pachner 1-1, Ast 0-1). Rebounds--Garden Plain 21 (Puetz 4, Rowold 4), Cimarron 29 (Clark 8). Turnovers--Garden Plain 12, Cimarron 24. Fouls--Garden Plain 18, Cimarron 28. Fouled out--Garden Plain (Doyle), Cimarron (Clark, Chr. Fischer, Pachner). Technical fouls--none.