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MEEKER I The Meeker Cowboys were within three points of making their third trip in six years to the big dance in Pueblo this weekend, but the Lutheran Lions had other ideas. In the regional championship game to determine who would represent the District Five, Lutheran held on in the final seconds to defeat the Meeker Cowboys 35-33. With the loss, Meeker ends its season with a very respectable 21-2 overall record.
Having received the top seed in the regional tournament by virtue of their district championship last week, the Cowboys were first paired against the Del Norte Tigers on Friday. The Cowboys found the going a little tough right off the bat as Del Norte took an early first quarter lead 12-10. Whether it was big game jitters or a different gym, Meeker missed several opportunities in the quarter as a number of Cowboy shots were unable to produce points. Compounded with this were errant passes that turned the ball over to the Tigers.
Meeker regained their composure in the second quarter and were able to regain the lead on an 11-5 quarter production. Up by a 21-17 score to start the third period, Meeker couldn’t pull away from the hustling Tigers and could only extend their lead by one to start the fourth quarter 29-24.
Meeker was in for a struggle in the fourth. Scott Smith was able to keep the ‘Pokes afloat with six solid points in the quarter. The Pokes were four of six from the charity stripe in the final stanza, but two misses were crucial front ends of one and one opportunities. However, Meeker was able to withstand the Tiger assault, and emerged with a 41-38 victory to advance to the finals against Lutheran who beat a very game Telluride team earlier 45-33.
Paired against the Lutheran Lions from Denver, several state basketball aficionados didn’t give the Cowboys much of a chance of winning the game. Meeker had a better idea of their skills and were undaunted by the big city private school. Cooper Smith started the Cowboys out on the right foot as he was able to hit two big three point shots early and Scott Smith added a couple of free throws to the cause to stake the Cowboys to an early lead. Meeker was playing with the Lions and at the end of the first eight minutes were only down two points 10-8.
The Cowboys then ran into some problems. Suddenly unable to solve the zone defense of the Lions, Meeker committed several turnovers, and Lutheran went on a torrid 15-0 run before Jeremy Musgrave and Kevin Eli counted points for the ‘Pokes. After the rush was stemmed Lutheran had jumped out to a 12 point halftime lead 25-13.
Undaunted, and having faced several games in which they were behind at halftime throughout the year, Meeker began its comeback. Coming out in the second half and playing solid defense, the ‘Pokes took over the third quarter and outscored the Lions 11-6. Cooper Smith counted seven of his teams 11 points, and the Cowboys were down only seven to start the fourth 31-24. Still keeping up the defensive pressure, the Cowboys were able to tie it up with 4:20 left in the fourth period when a Lion player was whistled for a technical for hanging on the rim.
Lutheran regained the lead on a three point shot by Foote with 1:39 to make it 31-34. Scott Smith then was able to score inside the paint with 1:10 to cut the lead to one 33-34. Meeker then fouled to get the ball back with :33 left on the clock. The Lutheran player was only able to convert on one of the free throws and gave the ball back to Meeker with 24 seconds left, down by two 33-35.
Meeker had its chances in the final few seconds as a 10 foot shot rimmed out, and the front side of two one and one opportunities didn’t fall for them. With 4.2 seconds left, Meeker had the ball, but another turnover proved the end of the game, and the season for the Cowboys 33-35.
“We were really proud of the boys this year,” said Cowboy Coach Klark Kindler, “they worked hard all year. They are a good bunch of young men and represented Meeker well.” Meeker finished with an impressive 21-2 record, a league and district championship and were the Region Five runner-ups… proud accomplishments for any team.
The state tournament begins today in Pueblo with the following seeding.
CLASS 2A BOYS
8:30pm: #1 Denver Christian (23-0) vs #8 Sanford (20-5)
10:15am: #4 Custer County (16-6) vs #5 Lutheran (16-8)
1:15pm: #3 Limon (20-3) vs #6 Wiggins (17-8)
5:30pm: #2 Resurrection Christian (21-2) vs #7 Sargent (15-7)
Meeker 10 11 8 12-41
Del Norte 12 5 7 14-38
C Smith 2,0,3,2-6, S. Smith 6,-,2,1-13, Lopez 1,0,2,1-3, Musgrave 0,0,2,2-2, Eli 2,0,4,1-5, Morris 2,0,0,0-4, G. Smith 2,0,4,2-6, Mobley 1,0,0,0-2
Stephens 4,1,2,2-13, Trujillo 3,1,0,0-9, Lohr 2,0,3,2-6, Martinez 0,1,0,0-3, Imes 2,1,0,0-7
Meeker 8 5 11 9-33
Lutheran 10 15 6 4-35
C. Smith 1,3,4,4-15, S. Smith 2,0,4,3-7, Musgrave 1,0,0,0-2, Eli 1,0,0,0-2, Morris 1,1,0,0-5, G. Smith 1,0,2,0-2.
Willis 0,0,2,1-1, Murphy 1,0,2,1-3, Braxvoort 2,0,2,2-6, Clausen 2,0,2,2-6, Foote 2,2,2,1-11, Raper 4,0,0,0-8.