The Cheyenne Wells Tigers punched their ticket to the Big Show on Saturday with a 46-35 win over Sierra Grande. Pictured are l to r: Bladin Domsch (mgr.), Asst. Coach Grant Harding, Zach Dickey, Gabriel Zamarippa, Conrad Ball, Carson Noe, Ty Scheler, Perry Chadwick, Corey Hill, Blake Gilmore, Bryson Hyle, Jesse Harlow, Trey Scheler, Charles Hall (mgr.), Head Coach Kendall Pelton.
It’s one of the hottest leagues in the state of Colorado as the Hi-Plains League will be sending three quality teams to the 1A Colorado State Basketball Tournament this weekend. McClave and Granada will be joined by the upstart Cheyenne Wells Tigers (#9, 14-8) playing at the Butler-Hancock Arena located on the campus of the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley. McClave is seeded #3, Granada comes in as the #6 team, and Cheyenne Wells will be the low man on the totem pole as a #9 team. They will face off against #1 Belleview Christian (22-1) who barely beat Wiley (#16, 13-7) in the regional championship on Saturday night.
Cheyenne Wells advanced to the regional finals with a too-close-for-comfort, 36-33, win over #24 Centennial (14-6) group. Both teams started out terribly slow with Centennial ahead by a bucket at halftime, 13-11. But the Tigers put together a solid third quarter behind a couple of triples from Ty Scheler to gain control of the game. Down the stretch the Centennial group had to foul to stop the clock and Scheler made 2-for-2 to ensure the victory.
Scheler led all scorers with 17 points, using three long balls on the night. Carson Noe added 10 points including a 2-for-2 performance from the charity line in the waning minutes of the third period. Bryson Hyle added 6 points down low, and Blake Gilmore dropped one triple.
The close win set the Tigers on a determined edge to defeat the #8 Sierra Grande (13-8) group the next night in the regional championship contest for the right to advance to the state tournament. The teams went back and forth for three quarters until the Tigers picked up their defensive effort allowing only three points from the SG group in the final period. That defensive stand was key to the Tigers now taking a nice little trip to the state tournament this weekend.
Noe had a spectacular game as the smooth junior hit for a long ball and was an impressive 6-for-6 from the free throw line. Scheler also had another solid performance with 11 points, including a triple and hitting 3-for-4 from the charity line.
Conrad Ball hit for three triples, an unexpected performance that electrified the Tigers. The hot shooting Gilmore was dogged all night, per usual on the scouting reports, but managed to hit a couple of triples on his way to a 5-point contribution.
The Tigers now face off with Belleview Christian, the top seed at the tournament, with game time scheduled for 8:30 pm on Thurs., March 9.
Belleview Christian had a little trouble actually getting to the Big Dance as the Wiley Panthers played them to a 55-46 score where the Bruins had to capitalize from the free throw line to stop Wiley. With Belleview Christian ahead by a single bucket going into the final stanza, 35-33, the hometown Bruins managed to grab a slight lead right when they needed it in order to stall the ball and make Wiley put them on the line. They made enough free throws to seal the deal to the Big Show.
Wiley (#16, 14-8) arrived at the regional championship with an 80-65 win over Pikes Peak Christian. The Panthers used a spectacular 31 point second quarter to come back from an 11 point deficit from the first period. They would then follow that performance up with 22 points in the third period to put the PPC on the ropes.
Wiley will lose a large part of their team to graduation including 4 starters. They include big man Cooper Tixier who was a double-double performance player each night scoring 12.1 ppg and pulling down 12.7 rebounds ppg. Guard Devon Louellien added 9.2 ppg, 4.1 rpg, and 2.6 steals per game. Jace Parker was a solid player for the Panthers putting in 7.9 ppg and 6.0 rpg. Guard Cade Phillips added 7.2 ppg, 3.9 assists per game and 2.3 steals. Daigan Adame was also on the team and contributed 1.5 ppg and 1.0 rpg.