SAN LUIS VALLEY — The regional basketball tournaments over the weekend thinned the herd. From the start there were 12 different teams from eight different schools in 1A and 2A. Those numbers have since been cut down to three.
Regional tournaments were stocked with Valley talent having sent Del Norte girls and boys, Sargent girls and boys, Sanford girls and boys and the Center boys.
Del Norte had a strong first day. The boys traveled to Highland where they faced Paonia. After going down at half the Tigers surged back with a big game from Carlos Parra to take an 83-68 win.
Del Norte’s girls warmed up the home crowd with a lopsided victory. Leading from the outset and closing out a 65-26 destruction of Dolores. Kendra Parra collected 19 points in the win keeping up her impressive season scoring average.
On Saturday, despite a six three-pointer performance from Carlos Parra, the Del Norte boys fell to Highland by a score of 81-76. At home Del Norte’s girls were chased down in the third quarter, their season ending 54-43 at the hands of the Holyoke Dragons.
The Farmers didn’t fare well. Sargent’s boys succumbed on the road to Ellicot in a 56-29 game. While the lady Farmers gave second-seeded Simla a good fight; in the end Sargent was defeated 53-45.
Center completed an upset in the district tournament but in the regional tournament couldn’t pull one over on undefeated Crowley County. Center would relent a 67-32 game to the top ranked team.
Another team with a home series was the eighth-seeded Sanford boys. Sanford defended home court against Mancos Friday defeating the Bluejays in a 46-37 game. Sanford’s girls rolled a match-up with the eighth-seeded Ignacio Bobcats. The Indians fell one basket short on the road to the Bobcats in a 25-23 game.
In Saturday’s matchup the Sanford boys waited until the final minute to take the lead and earn their pass to state 42-39.
Overcoming a 12-point deficit isn't easy at any level; it’s even less common in high school basketball. So when Sanford came out flat being outscored in the first quarter 14-2 one might have thought there would be tension. There were three groups that refused to feel that tension— Sanford’s fans, coaches and players.
When Zach Sittler hit the lone basket for the Indians in the first quarter the fans exploded with zero regard for the scoreboard. Even though Sedgwick’s Cougars looked prepared for the perimeter play from Sanford the coaches stuck with the game plan. Despite the deficit the Indians kept their cool.
Thad Jackson jump-started the offense when he hit the first shot for Sanford from downtown. The Sanford boys would follow Jackson’s lead hitting two more treys in the quarter, one from Sittler and the other from Kylan Anderson. With that the Indians would close the distance to nine points at the half. Anderson was Sanford’s leading scorer with 12 points; Sittler was second with 11.
The same nine points that vexed Sanford at half were still present at the beginning of the fourth quarter, the Indians trailing 35-26. Anderson would hit a three-pointer in the fourth that triggered a Sanford 12-4 run built on takeaways and fast play to bring Sanford to within one at 39-38, with just a half a minute to go.
The pivotal possession went to Anderson who battled his way inside for the go ahead basket. Sedgwick County was completely deflated as evidenced by the ensuing inbound being mishandled and going out of bounds to become another Sanford possession. Sittler would handle the Indian’s inbound whereupon he would be immediately fouled and deliver two back-breakers from the charity stripe.
The game wrapped with an ill-fated three-point game-tying attempt from Sedgwick County. With the win, Sanford is the lone team to represent the Valley in the 2A class at the State Championship.
In the first round Sanford (19-5-0) will face Crowley County (23-0-0). Out of Ordway, Colo. the Chargers have had a very impressive season, staying perfect. Sanford and the Chargers meet Thursday at 5:30 p.m. Stopping Crowley Country begins and ends with Bradley Carnes-Clabey. Carnes-Clabey leads the Chargers in almost every main category from scoring (375 points), to rebounds (239), and also blocks (52).