By BRETT MARSHALL
CIMARRON — It was the first basketball title of any kind in more than a decade for the Satanta Lady Indians Saturday night when they walked off the floor of the Bluejay Invitational with a 59-49 victory over the host Cimarron Lady Bluejays.
For the South Gray Rebels, it was business as usual here as coach Mark Applegate watched his team dismantle Meade, 54-42, to earn their seventh consecutive title of the tournament.
Such was the contrast of the respective post-game celebrations of the two teams as the Lady Indians enthusiastically soaked in the awards ceremony, team photos and medal awards. The Rebels, meanwhile, were quietly enjoying being 4-0 and showing no ill effects of missing three of their top players from last year's team that went 25-2 in making the Class 1A state championship game.
For coach Mike Heater, the Satanta victory was the start of what he hopes will be one of the best seasons since 2000. Heater, in his fifth season, returned four starters from last year's team that went 18-8 and finished third in the tough Hi-Plains League behind Class 3A powerhouses Southwestern Heights and Holcomb.
"It's been a long time coming," Heater said of the tournament title. "These girls are well-deserving. They've put a lot of effort into what they're doing."
The Lady Indians jumped out to a 10-5 first quarter lead and expanded it to 31-24 at halftime as Stephanie Caro scored 14 of her 15 points in the first half.
"We've been waiting for this since the third grade and it feels great," said senior guard Kelsey Blair, whose 15 points provided the Lady Indians with three players in double figures as Minerba Gonzalez took team honors with 16, nine of those coming in the second half.
Blair, regarded as one of the top players in southwest Kansas entering her final season, said the Lady Indians were more than just about her.
"It never will be about me," Blair said of her team's effort. "We've got others who can step up and play well and we showed that tonight. It's about the team, the team is the thing."
Cimarron trailed by six after three periods, 42-36, and brought it to within four at 49-45, with 3:58 remaining. But the Lady Indians responded with a 10-2 run to salt the win away.
"We just got beat by a really good team," Cimarron coach David Ediger said. "It's the second night in a row that we didn't shoot the ball well (14-of-46, 30.4 percent)."
Satanta junior Allee Young, who plays in the shadow of her senior sister, Aubree, played a key role in the Lady Indians victory as she scored eight points and had a game-high 11 rebounds, several of those on putback shots after getting a weakside board.
"She was there every time and I'm really proud of her," Aubree Young said of her younger sister. "This feels great. People thought it was a fluke that we beat South Gray the first time, and we did it a second time (semifinal victory) and then we win this. We're legit."
While Satanta had three players reach double figures, the Lady Bluejays managed just junior point guard Avery Burns who reached double digits with 14 points, including 10-of-10 at the free throw line.
"We ask her to do a lot and we've got to get her some help," Ediger said of his floor leader. "You're never as bad as you think and you're never as good as you think. Obviously, we've got to get better than we were tonight. We'll get back to practice, work on some things and bring a different team to the next game."
In the boys championship game, South Gray wasted little time in establishing the pattern of play against the Buffaloes, who had just recently captured the Class 2A state football championship.
Defense carried the Rebels in this game, taking a 17-8 lead after one quarter and increasing it to 30-19 at halftime.
Applegate saw his squad extend the advantage to 15, 42-27, after three periods, and Meade could never pull any closer the rest of the way, despite the Buffaloes hitting 7-of-17 from 3-point range, including five by senior Kellan Hernandez.
For Applegate, it was his 485th career victory, and so far he is enjoying his 29th season at the South Gray helm.
"We're a little bit ahead of where I thought we'd be," Applegate said. "Defensively, I thought was where we really made a big difference in the game. "
See boxscores in Scoreboard, Page B2.