Taking flight: Bluejays soar in HPL tourney sweep of Buffaloes
By KEVIN THOMPSON
They did it the hard way — they earned it.
The Cimarron Bluejays overcame a fourth-quarter deficit to defeat Meade in a physical title game of the Hi-Plains League tournament Saturday, 50-47, at the Perryman Athletic Complex.
The win prevented Meade from winning its third straight title and fourth since joining the league just four years ago.
It also gave the Cimarron boys their first-ever title in the 50 years of the tournament, and it gave the school a sweep of titles as the girls defeated Meade in that title game.
Down 42-38 going into the final period, the 'Jays went on a 7-0 run to start the quarter and take the lead on a Caleb Fischer field goal at 5:21 and increased it to 45-42 on a Christian Fischer shot.
Meade tied it on a Landon Bird three at 3:45, the Buffaloes' first points of the period.
After Morgan Davis increased that with a field goal on Meade's next possession, Christian Fischer stole the ball, took it coast-to-coast, ended on a spinning layup and hit the ensuing free throw to give Cimarron a 48-47 lead.
After that, things fell perfectly into place for the Bluejays.
Davis missed a short jumper, and the Jays' 6-4 freshman Nick Ast grabbed the rebound with a minute remaining.
Cimarron called timeout with 52 seconds remaining to avoid a 5-second call and a turnover, and after that Meade had to foul four times just to put the Jays at the line.
The strategy almost worked as Christian Fischer missed the front end of a one-and-one with 14 seconds left.
Jett Little fed the ball inside to Davis, who was fouled, but the 6-4 senior, who played the entire game and ended with 26 points, missed the front end of a one-and-one.
Ty Clark grabbed the rebound, got fouled, and sank both free throws with two seconds left, forcing Meade to make a three-pointer just to tie.
Meade was forced to try a desperation three from the backcourt that missed wide, and the Jays were celebrating.
"Our kids amped it up on defense. I really believe that," coach Dave Losey said after watching the Jays outscore Meade 12-5 in the fourth quarter.
Putting the freshman Ast on the senior Davis also forced the latter to have to shoot over somebody, and that seemed to affect the Meade post, Losey said.
"It was huge that we crashed the boards, too," he added. "We hadn't really done that all week."
And turning over the ball just once in the second half kept his team under control.
The second half was a far cry from the second period, which was almost Cimarron's Waterloo as they watched a 21-12 lead dissipate quickly and turn into a 25-21 halftime deficit.
Meade shut them out from the 5:41 mark and went on a 15-0 run to end the half.
"The biggest thing is we couldn't hit shots," Losey said. "They went to a zone, which was smart on their part. We'd get open and flat miss shots and then sometimes the ball just went right through our hands."
Cimarron committed six of its 10 turnovers in that quarter as Meade took control.
"But I told them at halftime that, as poor as they played, they were only four down," Losey said.
Caleb Fischer sat nearly the entire quarter with two fouls, but the senior came back with 10 points in the third to spark the Jays.
And Cimarron did its best to shut down Meade's offense.
Besides Davis' 26 points, Little had 10, but no other Buffalo had more than three.
"That's the way you have to beat them," Losey said. "You know Davis or Little will get their (big points), but hopefully not both, and that's what we did."
Caleb Fischer finished with 18 points, while Christian Fischer added 14.
Cimarron was 20 of 41 (49 percent) from the floor while holding Meade to just 16 of 35.
"The kids did a great job. They followed things to a 'T' except that second quarter," Losey said. "From then out they did what they were supposed to do. They did a great job."
Even the physical play didn't affect his team too negatively, he said.
"Sometimes they get a little flustered, but tonight, especially in the second half, they didn't let the physicality of the game affect their play," he said. "It didn't affect the outcome of the game."
This second win over Meade gives his Jays (10-2) a boost of confidence going forward, Losey said, especially with a tough sub-state nearing.
"These are clutch kids," he said. "They're doing a great job."
Cimarron 15 6 17 12 -- 50
Meade 10 15 17 5 -- 47
Cimarron (10-2)--Ca. Fischer 7 0-0 18, Stanley 1 0-0 2, Clark 3 3-4 9, Ch. Fischer 6 1-2 14, Pachner 1 0-0 2, Ast 2 0-0 5. Totals 20-41 4-6 50.
Meade (9-2)--little 3 3-4 10, Larrabee 1 0-0 2, Friesen 1 0-0 2, Lewis 1 0-0 2, Davis 8 7-9 26, Bird 1 0-0 3, Gleason 1 0-1 2. Totals 16-36 10-13 47.3-point goals--Cimarron 6-14 (Ca. Fischer 4, Ch. Fischer, Ast), Meade 5-12 (Little, Davis 3, Bird). Rebounds--Cimarron 16 (Ch. Fischer 4), Meade 19 (Davis 8). Turnovers--Cimarron 10, Meade 14. Fouled out--none. Total fouls--Cimarron 17, Meade 14. Technical fouls--none.
Cimarron 64, Meade 36
Cimarron's girls have made yearly reservations in the finals of the Hi-Plains League tournament.
The defending champions entered Saturday's final for the eighth time in the past nine years, facing last year's opponent Meade, this year's second seed.
The Lady Jays showed why they were the top seed, routing the Lady Buffaloes 64-36 for their second straight title, third in the past four years and their fourth overall in the tournament's 40 years.
According to the stats, Meade's poor shooting did them in.
The Lady Buffs made just three field goals in the first quarter and one in the second as Cimarron built a hefty 30-13 lead at the break.
For the game, Meade shot just 22 percent (10 of 46), a credit to Cimarron's defense, coach David Ediger said.
"I'm so proud of their effort and the way they played together with intensity the whole game," he said. "We just played really well today."
For their part, the Jays were dominant on both sides of the ball. Not only did they stop a usually high-scoring offense, but they were 20 of 52 from the floor (38 percent) and hit eight 3's.
Ashtynn Burns led the way with 24 points, including 8 for 9 at the free throw line, while Morgan Ediger added 14 points, hitting four 3's.
But it was a pair of usually unsung heroes who set the tone early for Cimarron.
Senior Hailee Hoskinson pulled down nine boards in the first half (14 total) and 6-foot sophomore Korina Bailon scored 13 points (nine in the first quarter) to establish a dominance that might have caught Meade by surprise.
"Korine is a really good player," Ediger said. "She's a very underestimated player. She can do a lot of creative things on the floor."
Hoskinson did a great job on the boards, Ediger said, something that too often gets overlooked in the stats.
"She did a great job blocking out, picking up some fouls on (6-foot post Tarah) Wiens, which caused her to sit down," Ediger said. "That was big for us."
Wiens finished with just a pair of free throws and five boards.
Hoskinson said it was her goal to be huge inside.
"I wanted to focus more on rebounding instead of scoring in this game," she said. "I wanted to out-rebound them so they couldn't get any boards."
It was also the goal in practice all week to have good team defense, Hoskinson said, and it showed.
That was also the team's goal, Ediger said.
"We came with the intent to play some defense today," he said. "We haven't played great defense, especially at their place. We let them penetrate at will. We weren't going to let that happen this time."
Cimarron broke open a close game with a traditional 3-point play at 1:50 in the first to start a 15-1 run that saw the Buffaloes drop in just one field goal in 11 attempts.
It was also a tale of miscues for Meade as they turned the ball over 19 times.
"I told them they did everything I asked for and more," Ediger said. "It was great to see them be successful like that."
This marked the second straight year Cimarron has won both the regular season meeting and the league title games against a solid Meade team.
Ediger is also confident that this year's seniors have a chance to be the winningest senior class in a four-year stretch.
Burns is the only senior to have played on all three tournament title teams.
Going forward, Ediger said the title gives his team some energy and excitement.
"Sometimes when we play the way we have lately, it's hard to be content with winning," he said. "We wanted to earn this. We knew it wasn't going to be easy. The girls worked very hard, and they're tired but excited."
Meade 8 5 9 14 -- 36
Cimarron 17 13 19 15 — 64
Meade (8-2)--Olvera 2 2-3 6, Be. Lewis 2 2-4 6, Leutters 0 1-3 1, Stapleton 1 4-6 6, Reiumer 1 0-0 2, B. Lewis 1 0-0 2, Wiens 0 2-2 2, Moshier 3 3-4 9, K. Ellis 0 2-2 2. totals 10-46 16-24 36.
Cimarron (11-1)--Dupree 1 0-0 3, Burns 6 8-9 22, Moler 1 0-0 3, Hoskinson 2 2-2 6, Ediger 5 3-3 14, K. Bailon 5 0-0 13, A. Bailon 0 1-2 1. Totals 20-52 14-16 64.
3-point goals--Meade 0-4, Cimarron 8-18 (Dupree, Burns 2, Ediger 4, Moler). Rebounds--Meade 27 (Stapleton 5), Ciimarron 31 (Hoskinson 14). Turnovers--Meade 19, Cimarron 14. Fouled out--none. Total fouls--Meade 15, Cimarron 20.