Meeker’s ride ends
Simla surges past Cowboys for region title
The first quarter was a terrible tease, a failure at portending what was to come Saturday between Meeker and Simla in their Class 2A Region 5 girls basketball final.
Meeker thought its offense had kicked into gear after a slow start, turning a 6-0 deficit into an 11-9 lead with one quarter in the books. Meanwhile, Simla’s Kenzi Mitchell looked nothing like the Cubs’ leading scorer, missing all four of her shots in the opening frame.
Then came the second quarter, the disappearance of the Cowboys’ offense and the emergence of Mitchell, who took over the contest and led Simla (20-4) to a 55-31 victory and a berth in the 2A state tourney’s quarterfinals.
Mitchell missed her first shot of the second quarter, then started making nearly everything she threw at the basket. A 3-pointer from the left wing preceded Meeker’s only basket of the quarter with 6:04 left. Mitchell countered with a shot underneath 24 seconds later to give the Cubs the lead for good, 14-13, and start a 20-0 run to close the half.
Mitchell added another 3-pointer, concluding a four-possession stretch in which the Cubs sank three 3-pointers. Then, she went inside, making layups on consecutive possessions, the first one off her steal in the backcourt from a Meeker guard and the second one on a fast break in which the final pass led Mitchell perfectly to the basket.
That gave her 12 of her game-high 26 points.
“She just decided to play,” Cubs coach Al Snyder said. “When she’s playing well, that’s what you will see.”
Cowboys coach Greg Chintala said Simla’s second-quarter run of 3-pointers hurt.
“Then we couldn’t get anything to fall ourselves,” he said.
Part of that futility from the field was wrought by the Cubs’ defense, which Snyder pointed to as the difference in the game.
Chintala added, “That’s pretty good defensive pressure there. … They play good defensive basketball.”
Any thoughts about the Cowboys coming back were dashed early in the third and fourth quarters. The Cubs scored the first five points of the second half, including a three-point play by Mitchell, and they scored the first six points of the final quarter, extending their lead to 48-19.
Meeker ended its season with a 21-3 record, and Chintala praised his players for their work ethic.
Chintala said people would tell him they noticed how hard his players worked, and he’d respond, “They’re not afraid to sweat. They’re hard workers. Great, great kids.”
■ In the Class 2A Region 3 final at Durango High School, Ignacio (16-7) defeated Paonia 53-49.
The Eagles concluded their season at 18-5.
Class 3A State
No. 1-seed Centauri got 21 points from senior guard Taylor Wilson as the Falcons defeated 16th-seeded Olathe 60-49 in a second-round game at Centauri High School.
The Falcons (21-2) took a seven-point lead at the half and extended the advantage to 13 points after three quarters.
“Centauri’s a tough team without a doubt,” Olathe coach Paul Althaus said. “They have good shooters, especially Wilson. She’s a really talented player.”
Althaus said his team hung in the game, but he thought the Pirates’ youth was a factor. Olathe has four seniors, but the Pirates have a deep lineup with juniors and sophomores playing extensively, too. Eleven of Olathe’s 12 players scored in Saturday’s game.
Sophomore Payton Grett led the Pirates with 10 points and junior Kayley Archuleta scored eight.
The Pirates finished the season 18-6, signifying success that Althaus said wasn’t expected by everyone in Olathe after graduation claimed several excellent players from the season before.
“The kids pulled together and did a great job,” Althaus said.