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MEEKER I After three big wins, the Meeker girls earned the championship trophy at the 2012 White River Electric Cowboy Shootout. Under the direction of head coach Greg Chintala the team started the tournament Thursday, Nov. 29, winning 65-19 against the Nucla Mustangs.
At the end of the first quarter Meeker controlled the game with a wicked defense shutting out the lady Mustangs 17-6. As the halftime buzzer sounded, the lady Cowboys dominated the game 35-6. The second half found the frustrated Mustangs getting more physical to gain a few points, but the Pokes continued to be defensively powerful as they closed the game 65-19. With a first round win, the ladies were headed for the second round of play head to head with the Hayden Tigers. Junior Aly Ridings lead the scoring with 14 points, Senior Kaysyn Chintala hit 12, Junior Taylor Neilson and sophomore Sydney Hughes had 11 each, Junior Piper Haney hit 10, senior Katie Dinwiddie made four, senior Kacey Collins hit a bucket and senior Amanda Kendall sank one foul shot.
Friday night opened with Meeker once again taking the lead. The lady Cowboys posted 29 points to Hayden’s 13 by the end of the second quarter. Heating up the floor, Meeker then fired up 17 unanswered points until late in the third when the Tigers finally made to baskets closing at 50-17. The fourth quarter looked like Meeker’s wicked defense would earn a shutout as they lead 68-17 with one minute left on the clock. The Tigers managed to hit one basket ending the game 68-19, another big win for the lady Cowboys. Leading the pack Neilson had 20, Chintala hit 11, Hughes sunk 10, Haney and Dinwiddie both cashed in eight, Ridings scored five, Kendall made four and junior Deena Norell hit a three-pointer.
Saturday the girls faced off for the championship title against county rivals the Rangely Panthers who were dominating their side of the bracket with wins akin to Meeker’s. The crowd was expecting a great game and that is what they got. Both teams’ tenacious defenses kept the scoring to a minimum as the first quarter closed 9-8. Meeker cashed in 11 and Rangely answered with 10 to end the second quarter 20-18, the Cowboys. With a defensive onslaught, Meeker attacked to take a seven point lead in the third quarter, and the fourth quarter was the final downfall for the Panthers as the Pokes dominated with 17 points while Rangely hit a bucket and a foul shot. Meeker’s championship game concluded with a 51-30 win over the Panthers. Neilson led with 15 points, Ridings cashed in 12, Chintala sunk eight, Collins hit five, Haney had four and Norell hit two foul shots. Commenting about the weekend, coach Chintala felt that the team’s “performance was as fine of team playing in the first weekend of basketball as I’ve seen for a long time.” He noted that the key to the lady Cowboys’ big wins and high scoring was because “our defense was tenacious which helped create our offense.”
In addition to the varsity portion of the tournament, Meeker’s junior varsity and C team won all of their games for a clean sweep for the lady Cowboys on the weekend. The junior varsity beat Grand Valley’s JV Thursday night and showed tremendous tenacity as they won their Saturday game against Snake River’s JV club. The C team followed suit Friday with a white knuckle double overtime win against Hayden’s JV. Meeker’s JV and C team coach Mike Dinwiddie was pleased to see the girls “executing moves and plays that they had worked on in practice.”
The Meeker Masonic Lodge generously prepared and donated a breakfast for all of the participating teams and coaches Saturday morning before guest speaker Brett Steinacher, athletic director at Meeker High School, addressed the young basketball players with an inspirational speech. Even though Steinacher was not a basketball player, as a 270 pound offensive linesman in high school and college, he connected his athletic journey to that of any athlete. He encouraged the players to personally rise to their fullest in whatever position that they are asked by their coaches to fill. Whether a player cheers from the bench or pushes the ball down the court, Steinacher urged them to “take whatever talents you are given and develop those talents to elevate the team.” Steinacher challenged the young ladies to work in the off season to better themselves. He asked them to make peace with the past, worry not about what others think, not to judge others, take charge of their own happiness and smile. The lady Cowboys came to their feet to lead a standing ovation.
After the breakfast several players from all teams also participated in a three-point contest that Hayden’s Olivia Zehner won. Then the all-tournament most valuable player and all-tournament team were announced. The tournament coaches may only nominate players from opposing teams who demonstrate exemplary athletic ability, sportsmanship and teamwork. Meeker’s senior guard Kaysyn Chintala was voted 2012 Cowboy Shootout All-Tournament Team MVP and teammate Taylor Neilson earned the All-Tournament Team along with Macaela Morris of Nucla, Snake River’s Katie Lee, Olivia Zehner of Hayden, and Rangely’s post Quincey Thacker. The ladies were presented trophies donated by White River Electric and the other sponsors of the shootout. The lady Cowboys would like to thank White River Electric Association, Inc. for sponsoring the Cowboy Shootout, Meeker Masonic Lodge for the breakfast, as well as Mountain Valley Bank, Rio Blanco County Abstract Company, Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, Inc., Ma Famiglia, Wendll’s Wondrous Things, ERBM Recreation and Park District, White River Convenience, White River Inn, McGuire Auto Parts, Stagestop Meat Market and Deli and Watt’s Ranch Market for their generous contributions. The Meeker coaching staff would also like to thank athletic director and guest speaker Brett Steinacher for his hard work and diligence running the whole event, as well as all of the officials and volunteers who worked the games. Once again this tournament was a huge success.