MEEKER — The Cowboys will make their second trip to the Colorado State 2A basketball tournament in three years by virtue of their regional victories last weekend over Longmont Christian, 62-53, and Custer County 69-46.
Last Sunday, the state seeding committee selected Meeker as the second seed in the state tournament and as such, the Cowboys will face the seventh-seeded Sanford Indians at 11:45 a.m. Thursday at CSU-Pueblo’s Massari Fieldhouse. Holyoke has been given the nod as the No. 1 seed.
With the change in state qualifying to a 32-team field, the Cowboys started their quest for a return trip to Pueblo last Friday in Grand Junction at the Mesa State Fieldhouse against the No. 4-seeded Longmont Christian Warriors. Meeker soon found out that even though a fourth-seeded district team, Longmont had ideas of their own about making it to the big dance. Longmont came out quickly against the Cowboys, jumping out to a 15-2 lead.
Back-to-back 3-point shots by senior Brian Crowe and junior Mitch Jacob got the Cowboys started and cut into the Warrior lead. Meeker then was able to contain the quick start by Longmont and closed the gap to 15-13 at the end of the quarter. The Cowboys made up the deficit in the second quarter as Jacob counted nine of his 19 total points in the quarter and the Cowboys closed the half with a two-point advantage 32-30.
Neither team could get a deciding advantage in the third, but the Warriors closed the gap slightly on the ‘Pokes to 42-41. The fourth quarter was a tight contest until a player from Longmont was whistled for a foul near the end of the quarter. Not agreeing with the call, he was also assessed a technical. The Cowboys’ Crowe calmly made both free throws, and when Meeker was awarded the ball out of bounds for the technical, Crowe was fouled, and made two more free throws to give the Cowboys the extra margin needed for the 62-53 victory.
“Longmont Christian gave us everything we wanted in that first game,” said Cowboy Coach Klark Kindler. “They shot the ball well, and their zone defense gave us problems in the early part of the game.”
Last Saturday, the Cowboys were paired against the Custer County Bobcats for the right to go to the state tournament. Custer County had at one time been ranked fourth in the state, but had to use a pair of overtimes to get past a scrappy Rangely Panther team last Friday. Unlike the night before, the ‘Pokes jumped out to a quick start against the Bobcats. Led by Crowe, who hit his first three out of four shots from behind the arc in the quarter, Meeker surged to a 20-12 lead.
Meeker kept up the scoring in the second while shutting down the ‘Cats. Jacob scored seven, and Crowe and Dakota Rowlett counted for six each. The final play of the half found Rowlett rebounding a missed shot, and while falling down, was able to bank the shot off the backboard as the buzzer was sounding to give Meeker some extra momentum going into the half with a 39-21 lead.
Both teams had sluggish scoring in the third period with only 10 points each. In the fourth, Meeker was able to put the game away as the Cowboys outscored their opponent by five, to win going away 69-46.
“I was pleased with how we came out and got control of the game early,” said Kindler of his team’s victory.
With the two wins, Meeker now advances to the Great Eight at CSU-Pueblo, along with No. 3 Colorado Springs School (22-2), No. 4 Heritage Christian (22-2), No. 5 Ignacio (22-1), No. 6 Lutheran-Parker (17-7), No. 7 Sanford (19-5), and No. 8 Sargent (16-7).
“All eight teams are very good,” commented Kindler, “Any one of them has a chance to win.”
The Meeker girls’ team, which also earned a berth at the state tournament, will play at 10:15 a.m. Thursday against Burlington, followed by the boys’ Meeker/Sanford game at 11:45. All Meeker games will be broadcast on KRAI radio.
According to Colorado Preps, the Meeker boys have a record of 3-13 in the state tournament since 1959, and this is only the second state trip since 1992. The Cowboys have wins against Gunnison, and two years ago against Wray and Cripple Creek, when they were crowned the consolation champions. This will be the first state meeting with Sanford.
According to several sources, this may be the first time that both boys and girls have advanced to the state tournament at the same time.
Meeker 13 19 10 20 – 62
Longmont Christian 15 15 11 12 – 53
Jacob 6-2-1-2-19, Rowlett 1-0-5-8-7, Brown 3-0-5-6-11, Gerloff 2-0-0-0-4, Crowe 0-5-6-6-21 – 12-7-17-22-62
Meeker 20 19 10 20 – 69
Custer County 12 9 10 15 – 46
Jacob 3-3-0-0-15, Rowlett 7-0-0-0-14, Brown 3-0-0-0-6, Gerloff 0-0-1-2-1, Steiner 1-0-0-0-2, Campbell 0-1-0-0-3, Crowe 5-4-2-4-24, Wix 2-0-0-1-4 – 21-8-3-7-69.