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MEEKER I After a breathtaking quarterfinal win against the Soroco Rams last Tuesday in Oak Creek, the Meeker lady hoopsters started the semifinal round of the district tournament in Hayden against the No. 1 seeded Paonia Eagles.
Tuesday night’s quarter final game at Soroco High School was another display of that signature third quarter spark, this time giving Meeker to an 11 point advantage. Their lead narrowed after a few questionable calls put the Rams in possession of the ball late in the game. The Lady Cowboys hung on even with a very late buzzer shot from the Rams closed the game with a two point margin for Meeker. This adrenaline-pumped win landed the Lady Cowboys in a Friday night clash against Paonia in the district semifinals.
The Friday night semifinal game was a defensive battle. Paonia came out with a full-court defense that Meeker handled easily. A couple of quick buckets from Paonia were answered with a jump shot and a foul shot from sophomore Kaysyn Chintala, followed by two foul shots from freshman Taylor Neilson. With 40 seconds left in the quarter, Paonia led 8-5 when senior Chanler May dumped in a baseline basket to close out the quarter 8-7. Intense defense was the name of the game for both teams.
The Eagles came out in the second quarter with two fast shots to take a four point lead. Then they hammered in 10 more points which Meeker answered with only nine, sending them to the locker room down 16-22.
The Lady Cowboys’ signature third quarter spark shot down the full court trap press Paonia added to the mix. Senior Rebecca de Vergie capitalized on some great passing from her teammates as they broke the press with three easy layups by de Vergie. Freshman Aly Ridings added three more jump shots, Neilson sunk a bucket and junior Kathryn Doll made a free throw to tie the game at 31 at the end of the third.
Paonia pulled their press and a defensive battle ensued. Only nine total points were allowed in the fourth quarter between the two teams. Meeker sneaked ahead by two and kept the lead until the middle of the quarter. Then Paonia hit a 3-pointer and started to stall with their lead 36-33.
Senior Laura Glass made one foul shot with 11 seconds in the game to pull within two points. A quick foul from Meeker sent Paonia to the line making one foul shot. Meeker sent the ball down the court and hit a last second bucket that just missed the buzzer leaving the game to Paonia 37-34.
The number two ranked Hayden Tigers defeated Rangely to match Meeker against the Panthers Saturday morning. Chintala and Glass came out firing in the first quarter. Chintala hit two 3-pointers and Glass added a basket and a free throw ending the quarter 9-12 Rangely. That would be the last time the Panthers would have the lead. Meeker came out with their third quarter spark one quarter early, turned up the heat and took the lead for the rest of the game.
Meeker’s pesky defense held Rangely to five points in the second quarter while the Lady Cowboys cashed in 18 to lead 27-17 at the half. The Panthers fought back to close the gap to five at the end of the third quarter but Meeker took control in the fourth, scoring 19 points while only allowing the Panthers eight.
Really getting the black and gold crowd on their feet was sophomore Kaitlyn Dinwiddie when she hit two foul shots and a jumper in the last minutes of the game to stretch Meeker’s lead to 16 points. All of the Lady Cowboys contributed with incredible teamwork to post a final 50-34 score.
Coach Deb Henderson is “extremely proud of the girls.”
“They showed great composure this weekend. They had the desire and they are really playing hard for each other.”
This third place victory sends Meeker to Standley Lake High School in Westminster. The Lady Cowboys will match up with the Peyton Panthers for the regional playoffs Friday, March 4 at 6 p.m. The victor will advance to play a Saturday game against the winner of the Holyoke and Lyons game. After these weekend games, the overall regional champion will advance to the Colorado State Basketball Championships in Pueblo March 10-12.