The rigorous schedule of an early season tournament can reveal a lot about how the rest of a teams season will go. The early match ups of the Bluejay Invitational semi-finals were lopsided. The Bucklin girls easily defeated the Meade girls 53-30. The Meade boys ran away with their game against Satanta 76-18. The home teams did not have the same luxury, but both Bluejay teams will head to their home championship after tough games on Friday night.
After defeating Deerfield in the first round, the Lady Bluejays faced a tougher opponent in the Sublette Lady Larks. Cimarron shot off to a quick 13 point lead and finished the first quarter ahead 19-2. Junior Ashtynn Burns was deadly on the perimeter with 14 points on the game. Her teammate, sophomore post Eva Koopman, complimented Burns with her power in the paint. Coopman led the Lady Jays with 17 points. The Lady Larks created a solid push in the second quarter ending the half only down by 10 points.
"I thought we started pretty well," said Cimarron girls' basketball head coach David Ediger. "At the end we didn't finish real well. We didn't execute some offense when they finally went man. It was the first time all year we have had a chance in a game and we didn't do that very well. There is still some room for improvement."
The Lady Jays' defense stepped up in the second half and held the Lady Larks to only nine points. Cimarron won 49-28 and Koopman led her team in rebounds and points on offense. Ediger said she has really developed well as a player.
"She is starting this year playing her third year ever of basketball so for a 6'2" girl to do all the things that she does is pretty impressive," he said.
The Lady Jays will take on the Bucklin Lady Red Aces in the girls championship on Saturday.
The Cimarron boys game against the South Gray Rebels was the premiere match up of the night. Senior Bluejay Stewart Fairbank hit three three-pointers in the first quarter to give the Jays a solid lead 15-11 at the end of the first quarter. The Rebels were persistent and stayed within three points throughout the second quarter. The score was 25-22 at halftime with the Bluejays ahead.
"I wish we had better layups but we played pretty good defense," said Cimarron boys' head coach Dave Losey. "It was up and down though. There were a few times I thought if we get a bucket here we will go up eight and then ten but we never did. They would turn around and make a three and make it a four or three point game."
The third quarter tested the endurance of the Jays while the Rebels were busy playing catch up. South Gray chipped away at the Bluejay lead and came within two points. With nine seconds left in the third quarter Bluejay junior Caleb Fischer came up big with a steal that resulted in a layup and one. The shot gave a momentum boost to the Jays as they went on to win 54-47.
"I really like the way our kids responded," Losey said about how they overcame the South Gray comebacks. "I think they have a lot of confidence in themselves. We played together some over the summer and they are learning how to win the close games. They are a fun group to be around and we have a good time and they work their tails off...I don't know how to exactly say it but these guys don't crack."
The Bluejays will advance to the boys championship to take on the Meade Buffaloes on Saturday.
"I'm looking forward to seeing this match up because these kids all know each other and they have a bunch of good kids and we have a bunch of good kids," Losey said. "We saw each other so many times last year and they are definitely a fun group to play against. They are athletic and we are going to have to play well. I hope the kids will accept the challenge and rise to the occasion."