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Outside game fails Peyton in 59-46 loss in boys' 2A basketball quarterfinal
PUEBLO – Peyton picked the wrong time to revert to its jump-shooting ways. The Panthers, the top seed in the 2A boys’ state tournament, suffered through one of their worst offensive spells of the season en route to a 59-46 loss to No. 8 Sierra Grande's Panthers on Thursday at Massari Arena.
It ended a 17-game winning streak for Peyton (23-3), which shot just 26.6 percent from the floor, including 3-for 17 from 3-point range. Out of character, the Panthers chose to take a high percentage of outside jumpers instead of driving to the basket.
“We’ve been fighting the temptation to shoot the 3,” Peyton coach Brian Green said. “For the last four or five weeks, we’ve really been disciplined to limit those looks, to work the ball inside. Old habits came creeping back and we shot too many outside shots.”
Sierra Grande (19-5), which lost its only game of last season in the 1A state championship game, got 18 points and nine rebounds from Adam Gomez, and 17 points and 14 rebounds from Tomas Vigil.
“Being a 1A team moving up this year, we wanted to prove we can compete with the big dogs,” Gomez said. “We feel kind of like the underdog. There are eight good teams here, and anyone can win. We have confidence in what we can do.”
Sierra Grande jumped out to a nine-point lead after one quarter, and after Peyton grabbed a four-point advantage on a 15-2 run late in the second quarter, ended the first half with five straight points to retake the lead, 26-25 at halftime.
“When we got to the locker room and we were ahead by one, we could hear them laughing,” Gomez said. “We knew we wanted it more. We came out and took it to them.”
Vigil keyed a 10-0 run midway through the third quarter with a 3-pointer from the top of the key and a layup that gave Sierra Grande the lead for good at 38-30 with 3:04 left in the third quarter.
A 7-0 run pulled Peyton to within 48-43 with 2:14 left in the game after Ethan Abello’s tip-in off a Jared Watkins missed jumper. But Peyton would score just one more time, a 3-pointer by Watkins, as Sierra Grande made seven of eight free throws in the final 2:12 and added a few baskets to keep Peyton from threatening.
Abello led Peyton with 13 points, his team's lone double-digit scorer, as his team was held to fewer than 50 points for only the second time all season.
“We didn’t play our game,” said Watkins, a senior. “It was probably one of the worst games we’ve played. Our shooting just wasn’t there and we didn’t take it to the hole enough. Coach tells us that this is a learning experience, that it’s more than basketball. It definitely hurts, but life goes on.”
Victor Howard and Braydon Wakasugi scored 12 apiece for Sierra Grande, which will meet Limon (23-1) in a semifinal at 7 p.m. Friday.
“This is maybe the strongest field ever, and I’ve been coming to this tournament since 1987,” Green said. “Sierra Grande was in the state championship game last year. When you’re good, you’re good. Class doesn’t matter.”