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MEEKER I The Cowboys claimed the title of Shootout champs for the second year in a row by virtue of their three wins this past weekend.
Meeker’s victories over Shining Mountain (62-56), Rangely (72-49), and Valley (69-62) gave the host team the crown in the 10th annual White River Electric Cowboy Shootout.
Last Thursday, the Cowboys opened against tournament newcomer Shining Mountain of Boulder. The Cowboys started quickly in the first quarter on the strength of six points each from seniors Dakota Rowlett and Mitch Jacob, senior Tyrel Gerloff added four more and the tournament hosts ended the first quarter with a 19-7 lead.
The second quarter was more of Jacob and Rowlett as the teammates paced each other with eight more points apiece. Senior Colton Brown got a part of the scoring parade as he chipped in six more to help lead the Cowboys to a 20-point halftime lead of 41-21. The Lions from Shining Mountain weren’t going to go away quietly though as they slowly pecked away at the Cowboy lead. Meeker had trouble finding the basket in the second half and with 48 seconds left the once-large Cowboy lead was down to three points. However, Brown and Rowlett were able to convert on five of six free throws in the remaining time, and Meeker’s defense didn’t allow the visitors to make up any ground. The 62-56 victory moved the Cowboys into the next round against cross-county rival Rangely.
In the second-round game, Rowlett and Gerloff continued to score points for the Cowboys’ inside game as the duo paced Meeker to a quick 16-8 first-quarter lead. Meeker took a 30-16 halftime lead into the break with points from Jacob, Brown, Gerloff and junior Cole Steiner leading the way. The second half, the Cowboys used balanced scoring as seven of the Cowboys posted points in the game. Rangely’s tournament MVP Patrick Phelan gamely tried to keep his Panther team in the game as he accounted for 31 of his team’s 49 points. Meeker advanced to the championship game 72-49.
On the other side of the bracket, the Valley Vikings of Gilcrest, a 3A school, were making their way into the title game with victories over Hayden and Middle Park. This was also the first year for Valley to participate in the tournament and the newcomers made the most of their visit.
The Saturday morning contests allowed individual players to showcase some of their skills as the annual 3-point and slam dunk champions are crowned. This year it was Valley’s Joe Dellenbach who claimed both titles. It was the second year in a row that one player has won both of the events (Mike Matthews of Telluride won it last year).
The title game tested the Cowboys as the Vikings opened up the game with a 5-0 lead. Jacob got Meeker on the scoreboard with two, before senior Brown came alive. Brown went on a torrid streak as he scored 10 straight points and controlled the rebounding in the quarter for the Cowboys as he paced Meeker to a 15-12 first-quarter lead.
In the second quarter, Brown’s hot shooting hand cooled off, but he found his range from the left side and the Cowboy senior rained in three 3-pointers to close out the second quarter for the ‘Pokes with a 37-24 lead.
Balanced scoring was again the forte of the Cowboys in the second half as six of the team was able to count points. Meanwhile, the visitors were trying to chip away at the Cowboy lead as Valley’s Dellenbach scored 17 points with five 3-point shots. Meeker was only able to convert two field goals in the final stanza but was able to hold on with 11 of 17 free throws and a 69-62 victory.
After the game, Cowboy Coach Klark Kindler said, “This was another great tournament with good teams. White River Electric did another great job with the tournament and we thank them for it.”
Along with the team title, Meeker placed three players on the all-tournament team with Jacob, Gerloff, and Rowlett being selected by the coaches. In Saturday’s 3-point contest, Meeker had four players — Rowlett, Ever Olivas, Seth Boesch and Brock Campbell — participate.
Meeker will put its perfect 5-0 record on the road as the Cowboys travel to Granby to participate in the Mountain Parks Electric High Country Invitational. They will face Love Christian on Thursday, West Grand on Friday and Middle Park on Saturday.