It had been just one week earlier when the Sublette Larks and Southwestern Heights Mustangs tangled in a regular-season Hi-Plains League contest and the Mustangs escaped with a three-point victory.

Friday night, in the second semifinal of the HPL Tournament at the Perryman Athletic Complex, it was a different Heights and a different Sublette team that met.

This time, the Mustangs (9-1) ran their offense with efficiency, played strong defense and dominated the rebounding in taking apart the Larks, 52-39, to advance to tonight's championship game at 7:45 p.m. against Wichita County, a 52-50 winner over Holcomb in the other semifinal.

Both Heights coach Chad Novack and Sublette coach Matt Ziegler agreed on one thing, Heights did more good things than did Sublette.

"Being patient, and getting shots from two feet away is a lot easier," Novack said. "It's probably the best we've run our offense this year."

It was so efficient that the Mustangs finished the night hitting a 59 percent of their shots, 22-of-37, including 2-of-4 from 3-point range and 6-of-7 free throws.

"When we can get the ball into the big guy (6-foot-6 Cory Ryan) we're a lot better in every area of the game," Novack said of his senior who scored 18 points and grabbed 12 rebounds. "The last game Sublette did a great job of running their offense and I thought we did a good job of taking them out of that tonight."

Ziegler agreed with his counterpart.

"They took us out of everything we wanted to do," a disappointed Ziegler said. "We just showed up tonight with the idea that the 3-point shot (5-of-17) was going to be what we would do. It didn't work. We just got outplayed, I got outcoached. It's a good thing I like coach Novack."

Ziegler said perhaps his team came into the game just a little too confident based upon the close game they had a week ago.

"I'm not too big into playing games close," he said. "I want us to develop a mentality to win and we're just not quite there yet."

Sublette (6-5) was in the game early, trailing only 14-13 after one quarter and was still within four, 22-18, before two late baskets put Heights up by eight, 26-18, at intermission.

The Mustangs would extend the lead to 11, 42-31, as they continually went into Ryan for easy close-range shots. He scored 10 of his game-high 18 in the third quarter.

"We did a good job of getting the matchups we were looking for and I thought that was a big key," Novack said. "Our guards just did a great job of seeing the inside players and got it to them in the right place."

Sublette faces Holcomb for third place at 4:15 p.m.


SW Heights 52, Sublette 39

SUBLETTE (6-5) — Leverett 2-5 0-0 6, Blackburn 0-0 0-0 0, Stokes 4-6 0-0 10, Lower 0-5 0-0 0, Gesung 1-2 0-0 2, Williamson 1-6 0-0 3, Webb 4-8 2-5 10, White 3-12 2-2 8, Gonzalez 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 15-44 4-8 39.

SW HEIGHTS (9-1) — Johnsrud 1-2 0-0 2, Hernandez 0-2 0-0 0, Winfrey 4-7 0-0 9, Sigala 2-3 0-0 4, Chase 0-1 0-0 0, Flores 4-4 3-3 11, Eakes 3-7 1-2 8, Ryan 8-11 2-2 18. Totals 22-37 6-7 52.

Sublette 13 5 13 8 -- 39

SW Heights 14 12 16 10 -- 52

3-point goals — Sublette 5-17 (Leverett 2-2, Stokes 2-3, Lower 0-3, Gesung 0-1, Williamson 1-4, White 0-4), SWH 2-4 (Hernandez 0-1, Winfrey 1-2, Eakes 1-1). Rebounds — Sublette 17 (Williamson 4), SWH 32 (Ryan 12). Turnovers — Sublette 6, SWH 10. Fouls — Sublette 13, SWH 7. Fouled out — none.