Meade rolls to HPL boys tourney crown
By KEVIN THOMPSON
The Hi-Plains League might be having second thoughts about Meade joining three years ago.
The top Class 2A team in the state repeated as tournament champions at the Perryman Athletic Complex on Saturday in their third final since coming into the league.
This year, it was a 75-57 win over Sublette, who was making its 24th finals appearance, but first since 2006.
The Buffaloes showed why they are 11-0 and and ranked No. 1, taking a 2-point lead after one quarter and turning it into a runaway with their depth, speed and experience.
Sublette stayed with Meade for the first 9 minutes, tying the game on Kyler Line’s field goal early in the second period. When they finally scored again nearly 4 minutes later, they were down just 24-20.
Then Jett Little and Morgan Davis scored 9 of Meade’s final 10 points and the Buffaloes were up 38-27 at halftime.
Davis dominated the third quarter, scoring 8 of his game-high 20 points, all on easy layups, as Meade exploited Sublette under the rim.
A Trevin Wiens 3-pointer at the buzzer added the exclamation point to the run to give the Buffaloes a 58-41 lead.
They extended that lead to 26 midway into the fourth before both teams emptied their benches.
Meade coach Austin Lewis was happy with the win, especially against a Larks team he said was playing hot of late.
“Sublette looked really good in the first half,” Lewis said. “We just had to switch up our defense a little bit and how we switched on their screens. We defended a lot better the second half.”
Davis’ 20 points and Little’s 19 led an attack that saw nine players get in the scoring column. But it was the whole package that had Lewis liking what he saw.
The Buffaloes started the game in a zone defense and pressure, then matched up man-to-man in what proved to be a stingy defense. The pressure caused 13 turnovers in the next three quarters, and they held Sublette to 40 percent shooting (20-of-50).
Meade outrebounded Sublette 25-24, but it mattered little when they shot 62 percent, including a number of easy layups.
“Our rebounding was something we were worried about the last couple of games because our big guy (6-8 senior Randy Friesen) has been out. It’s not that we can’t do it, but when you’ve had someone in there getting 10 to 15 rebounds, you’ve got to put yourself into a different mentality. That showed up early (in the semifinal game Friday), and we just continued it tonight,” Lewis said.
Two straight titles is a reward for a good team, he added.
“I’m proud of how they lift each other up,” Lewis said. ”With Randy out, they’ve got different motivations to step up when they need to.”
Sublette had to play up a level from its semifinal game the night before, but the Larks ran into a Meade team that knows how to change another team’s plans in a hurry.
“They’re a good team,” Sublette coach Justin Moore said of the Buffaloes. “Our kids tried hard, and that’s important. They just executed better than we did on both ends of the floor. Give them credit. But at the same time, we know we can play better.”
To be in a title game is a new experience for his squad, Moore said, but as they play in more games like this, he believes the Larks will continue to get better.
“Our help-side defense is what got us through our last two games, but it’s also what hurt us tonight,” Moore said. “We talked about resiliency, and it just wasn’t there. It wasn’t through a lack of trying. We just ran into a team that was ready to play.”
The Larks’ offense was stagnant, he added, and just didn’t execute like it did Friday.
“Our cuts weren’t as sharp as they needed to be or our screens weren’t as tight,” he said. “We’ve just got to go back and see what we need to change.”
Sublette reached its season average in team scoring, but Meade did a good job holding Trevor Leverett and Taylor Williamson to just 12 points after combining for 27 Friday.
Nathan Cearly led the Larks with 13.
“We can’t hang our heads,” Moore said. “We play them again on Friday, so that’s another great challenge for us. Our character is going to be tested. Great teams and great people come through when times are tough, so we’ll see what we respond with.”
Moving forward, Lewis said the Buffaloes just accomplished one of their goals with this title, but still have their sights set on state. The only game they lost last year was the title game to Sterling, and they still have a sour taste about it.
“They’ve got something to prove,” Lewis said.
Sublette 16 11 14 16 — 57
Meade 18 20 20 17 — 75
Sublette (8-4) — Leverett 2 0-0 5, Lower 3 1-1 9, Morales 1 2-2 4, Gesling 1 0-0 2, Williamson 2 3-4 7, Martens 2 0-0 5, Cearly 4 2-2 13, Line 4 1-1 9, Gonzalez 1 1-6 3. Totals 20 10-16 57.
Meade (11-0) — Little 7 5-7 19, Hardaway 4 1-2 9, Vanderpool 0 2-2 2, Blehm 1 0-0 2, D. Wiens 1 1-2 3, T. Wiens 4 2-2 11, Finster 2 0-0 5, Olvera 1 2-2 4, Davis 9 0-0 20. Totals 29 13-17 75.
3-pt. goals — Sublette 7-18 (Leverett 1, Lower 2, Martens 1, Cearly 3), Meade 4-7 (T. Wiens 1, Finster 1, Davis 2). Rebounds — Sublette 24 (Williamson 5), Meade 25 (Davis 8, T. Wiens 5). Turnovers — Sublette 13, Meade 9. Fouled out — none. Technical fouls — none. Total fouls — Sublette 15, Meade 15.