By KEVIN THOMPSON
CIMARRON — When Cimarron was selected to host its own sub-state, coach David Ediger knew it would be loaded with some of the state's best 3A teams.
His Lady Bluejays entered Friday's Class 3A sub-state semifinal ranked fourth in the state, facing No. 5 Cheney in a battle between the third and second seeds.
The Jays, the visitors in their own gym, found the home court to their liking early, riding a near-dominating first half to a 66-51 win and a shot at the title tonight against Holcomb.
Ashtynn Burns had the hot hand for Cimarron in the first half, scoring 19 of her 29 points, including a trio of treys.
Cimarron was 6 of 10 from long range in the first half, finishing with 9 of 20 for the game.
It took the Jays nearly three minutes to get on the board, but once they did, they were hard to stop.
Down 7-3 with 3:56 to play, Cimarron (19-2) went on a 14-1 run to end the quarter and got up 34-14 late in the second.
Things cooled off in the third as the Jays were content to spread the offense and look for good shots. The closest the Lady Cardinals (18-3) could get was 16.
Cimarron connected on only 16 field goals, but nine were 3s, and they blistered the nets at the free-throw line, converting 25 of 27.
Burns hit all 12 of her attempts and Morgan Ediger was 11 of 11, finishing with 20 points.
Cheney also hit 16 field goals, but only four from downtown. They were a respectable 15 of 22 from the free-throw line.
Coach David Ediger was surprised a bit by the relative ease of the win against the No. 5 team in the state, but when his team gets hot as they did in the first half, they are hard to beat.
"Coming out in a game like that, sometimes you want to win so bad you've got to be sure to keep your nerves down and your adrenaline down a little bit," he said. "I thought they responded really well after we were down 7-2."
The Jays can score fast, Ediger said.
"I don't like to rely on that all the time," he added. "But they kept in there and started talking well, battling defensively, rebounding."
Once in control, Cimarron tried to get a big enough lead that Ediger could substitute more freely and rest his starters more, but the Cardinals showed why they were the No. 5 team in the state, battling every play in the second half.
"I had to keep the starting five playing the whole second half until Boo (Dupree) fouled out near the end," he said. "But this time of year they're going to have to learn how to do that."
Cheney never backed off, he acknowledged, playing hard to the end.
Burns' 29 points was not surprising, he said. She can score quickly.
The team's ability from the free-throw line prevented Cheney from making up any ground. That doesn't surprise him, either.
And for the second straight game, the Jays hit more 3s than 2s, also not surprising.
"But if the 3s aren't dropping, we're going to get the ball to the basket. Our girls are patient enough that we'll try something different," Ediger said.
Taylor Denney led the Eagles with 12 points, including three 3s, while Taylor Needham and Allie Twietmeyer finished with eight each.
Credit his girls for containing the Cardinals, Ediger said. Getting the lead as they did helped his team play more relaxed.
"I liked our girls' mentality that we're going to put them away," he said.
The 3s were falling, but if they didn't, the Jays can also run the fast break and attack the basket. It's a credit to their confidence, Ediger said.
"This group really likes playing together and that's a big key right there," he said.
Cimarron tries for a state berth tonight against Holcomb.
"I told the girls it's just about who's going to want it more," Ediger said. "They're going to make plays; we're going to make plays. The question is, do we want to play one more week or let them play one more week."
The sub-state championship game starts at 6 p.m., with the winner advancing the to the state tournament on Thursday.
Cheney 8 13 12 18 -- 51
Cimarron 17 20 14 15 -- 66
Cheney (18-3)--Denney 4 1-4 12, Needham 2 4-5 8, Jacobs 0 2-4 2, Holt 1 4-4 6, Louker 1 0-0 3, Twietmeyer 3 2-2 8, Lampe 2 1-1 5, Alber 3 1-2 7. Totals 16-46 15-22 51.
Cimarron (19-2)--Dupree 1 1-2 4, Burns 7 12-12 29, Hoskinson 3 1-2 9, Ediger 3 11-11 20, K. Bailon 2 0-0 4. 16-45 25-27 66.
3-point goals--Cheney 4-13 (Denney 3, Louker), Cimarron 9-20 (Dupree, Burns 3, Hoskinson 2, Ediger 3). Rebounds--Cheney 30 (Denney 6), Cimarron 23 (Hoskinson 5, Ediger 5). Fouled out--Dupree. Total fouls--Cheney 21, Cimarron 18. Technical fouls--none.