Charge punches Meeker’s ticket to regional final
It started with a charge, and now the Meeker Cowboys are one win away from charging into the final eight.
With the score tied 58-58 with seven minutes, 20 seconds remaining, Raul Lopez stuck his feet in the floor and drew a charge in the lane. The call energized the Cowboys, and they went on to a 79-73 win over Resurrection Christian in the Class 2A regional tournament at Palisade on Friday.
In less than two minutes after the charge call, the Cowboys racked up nine straight points to take control of the game. Ty Dunham, who tormented the Cougars on the inside for most of the game, grabbed a missed free throw for a bucket, then took a pass from Jeremy Musgrave on a fast break for another basket. Dunham later hit another inside bucket during the run.
The Cougars never recovered from Meeker’s quick spurt, and the Cowboys put the icing on the game from the line.
Lopez hit seven free throws in the fourth quarter, and all total the Cowboys made 14 in the final quarter.
When Dunham wasn’t getting premium post position and getting nice entry passes for easy buckets, he was grabbing offensive rebounds for putback points. The sophomore finished with 24 points before fouling out late in the game.
But with Meeker guarding against the 3-point shot, Resurrection Christian spread the floor and got in-close baskets of its own.
“We knew we had to cover the arch, and they did a god job attacking the rim,” Meeker head coach Klark Kindler said. “We knew we had to shoot it well. They are very good offensively, and we were just hoping to match them shooting-wise.”
In the first half, the Cougars took advantage of open lanes and drove the ball to the hoop. Luke Mondt had eight points in the second quarter, and Matt Jason slashed his way inside for a total of 23 points.
The third quarter was a back-and-forth affair, and the Cougars grabbed a 46-45 lead when Tanner Ervin hit a 3-pointer.
With Dunham and fellow post player Joe Newman on the bench with foul trouble, the Cowboys found an offensive spark in Musgrave, who exploded for 17 of his game-high 29 points in the quarter.
He scored from everywhere on the court in the third, hitting a 3-pointer, a midrange jumper, four free throws and offensive rebounds inside to help push the Cowboys’ lead to 58-55 after three quarters.
Meeker (16-6) faces Paonia (18-5) in today’s regional final at 1:30 p.m. at Palisade High School. This will be the fourth time the teams have met this year, with both winning on their home court and Paonia winning the district title 69-57 last weekend at Soroco High School.
“It will be a great game. We just need to execute,” Kindler said.
The winner will advance to the final eight in the 2A state tournament.