Pressure D leads Meeker girls into 2A regional final

Meeker’s girls basketball players call their full-court press the red press or the attack dog.

Regardless of the name, Nucla found it to be an absolute menace Friday when the Cowboys crushed the Mustangs 46-24 in a Class 2A regional semifinal at Palisade High School.

The Mustangs committed 12 turnovers in the first quarter as they fell behind 18-2, their lone basket coming with 21 seconds left in the frame. Then, they turned it over 10 more times in the second quarter and trailed 31-5 at the half.

Junior guard Sydney Hughes, who scored 13 of her game-high 17 points in the first half, said the press helps get the Cowboys going, letting them unleash their energy and establish the game they want to play.

“You think it would make us tired,” Hughes said.

Instead, they get more energized when the transition offense is rolling, and “we get buckets and buckets and buckets,” she said.

Meeker coach Greg Chintala said the Cowboys (20-2) start every game with the press, and “if they don’t handle it, we keep pressing.”

Nucla (14-9) never got comfortable in the first half. Even when the Mustangs got the ball into the front court, they rushed passes and often watched them sail out of bounds or get stolen.

The steals spelled layups for Hughes several times, whether it was her taking the ball and going all the way or a teammate throwing her a long pass. Meanwhile, Aly Ridings scored seven first-quarter points and finished with 11 for the game, and Piper Haney scored eight points in the first half, including six in the second quarter, on the way to 12 for the game.

“We were so fired up,” Hughes said. “We were so happy to be here.”

The challenge now for the Cowboys is to get past the regional. Chintala said his seniors are playing in their fourth regional tournament, but they have not advanced to the final eight who play in the state tournament.

“We’ve been here, we just haven’t finished,” said Chintala, whose team plays Soroco (16-7) in the regional final at noon today at Palisade High. “We want to take that next step. That’s the goal.”

The Cowboys have beaten Soroco three times this season, defeating the Rams 56-38, 60-31 and 62-45, the latter coming in the district tournament one week ago.

Hughes has been on two Meeker squads that fell short of state, and she said she and the other 10 girls on the roster want a state trip this year more than anything

“Instead of tears of sadness,” Hughes said, “tears of joy would be so incredible. ... To finally hold the gold plaque at the regional tournament would be like a dream come true.”


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