MEEKER I The Meeker High School boys’ basketball team wrapped up a successful season in Pueblo with weekend play at the Class 2A State Basketball Tournament, where they ended up No. 6 in the state.
The boys gave themselves a chance in every game and represented the Western Slope well, in a competitive, spirited and classy manner. It was the first time Meeker had gone to state back to back since the 1950s.
“I thought we competed very hard; and our defense was outstanding,” coach Klark Kindler said. “We struggled shooting it all three days. “We would hit six- and seven-minute spans where we wouldn’t score, and that made it real hard for us.”
The team walked into the tournament as No. 5 seed and gave No. 4 Simla a tough game. Simla’s height seemed to have an impact on Cowboy scoring in the first half and Meeker went into the locker room down 33-20. Adjustments at half with exceptional team defense in the third quarter led to an impressive 13-3 run by the Cowboys. Kash Atwood had a three in the quarter as well as a big basket from the two big men, Ty Dunham and Joe Newman.
The final period found the Cowboys within three points in the final two minutes. The final score ended up 55-44, but it seemed closer throughout.
Ty Dunham led scorers with 11 followed by Kash Atwood with nine, Joe Newman with eight, Cade Rowlett had seven, Raul Lopez had three and Jake Phelan, Logan Hughes and Matt Frantz each added a bucket.
In the consolation game vs. Burlington on Friday for a chance to place, Meeker had to come out ready for a defensive battle, but that played in their favor. They held Burlington to just two points in the second quarter, taking an 18-13 lead at the half.
The Cowboys knew they would have to maintain composure and play outstanding defense, and that is what they did. They came out on top by two points, indicative of the tournament’s heart, hustle and heroism.
The team was led by Dunham with 17 points in the low-scoring game, followed by Kash Atwood with nine, Raul Lopez and Jake Phelan each added four as well as tremendous passing throughout the tournament. Cade Rowlett had three and freshman Logan Hughes finished with two points.
The win kept the Cowboys alive in the hunt for fifth or sixth place.
The final game was against Holyoke and it was a game worth the price of admission. Both teams were well coached and played hard, although the final score found Meeker down by one, 48-47, and placing No. 6 in the state.
The tournament was one to be proud of for the Cowboys. Meeker jumped to a first-quarter lead behind aggressive play by Cade Rowlett and hot shooting by Kash Atwood, who hit two threes in the first eight minutes, giving MHS a 15-13 first-quarter lead. The Cowboys went cold in the second quarter and went into the locker room down 21-17.
Meeker made changes at half and executed their plan in the third quarter, outscoring Holyoke, 21-17, to knot the score going into the final eight minutes.
The Cowboys played outstanding team ball and gave themselves offensive opportunities , but the ball just didn’t fall in the final two seconds, resulting in a 47-48 loss.
“I was very proud of how we played on Saturday,” Kindler said. “Fifteen minutes before we took the court, we got some really bad news from home and our kids played with a lot of heart.
“I told them they may be disappointed by losing their last game, but in a couple days they will look back on the season and will be very proud of what they accomplished as a group,” he said.