Outlaw girls top seed for district

It has been a season of wild swings for the Yuma High School girls basketball team.

Perhaps the Outlaws are on the way back up as the postseason begins.

“I think we are on the right direction,” head coach Jeremy Robinson said. “We are getting our confidence back. Winning is always nice.”

The Outlaws began the season 9-1 and rose as high as No. 2 in the Class 3A CHSAA Seeding & Selection Index. However, they then lost seven straight against mostly top-notch competition, while dealing with an injury and some illness.

They closed out the regular season last week with two wins, improving to 11-8 heading into the postseason and sitting at No. 7 in the 3A CHSAA Seeding & Selection Index.

Yuma is the top seed in the awkwardly-named Confluence-Metro-Longs Peak District, earning a bye into the semifinals Friday at Manual High School. The Outlaws will play at 3 p.m. against the winner of this past Tuesday’s district game between fourth-seed Prospect Ridge Academy and fifth-seed Manual.

The Outlaws beat Manual 50-18 in the season opener December 1, but has not played PGA, which was expected to win this past Tuesday’s game. PGA was 6-13 entering the postseason.

On the other side of the bracket is second-seed St. Mary’s Academy, who will play the winner of this past Tuesday’s district game between third-seed Forge Christian and sixth-seed Stargate Besides Yuma, SMA is the only other district team in the top 16 of the 3A Index, entering this week No. 14 with an 11-8 record. Forge Christian is No. 26, PGA No. 31, Manual No. 38, and Stargate No. 49.

Yuma will get to host regional next week if it can win district, but likely will be traveling if not.

The Outlaws have the strongest strength of schedule in 3A, but Robinson wondered if it has taken too much of a toll.

“Getting battle tested or building confidence, I don’t know which is better,” he said. “This is a good district for us to be in, the way we have played at times this season. We have to shoot the ball better.”

Yuma ended the regular season last Friday with a 56-34 win at Byers.

The Outlaws raced out to a 14-3 lead. They cooled off a bit as Byers got to within five, 21-16, but the Outlaws led 25-17 at halftime.

Yuma put the game away with a 14-0 run to start the third quarter for a 39-17 lead. The Outlaws stayed comfortable ahead of Byers the rest of the way.

“I thought they were better against Byers,” Robinson said. “That start of the third quarter was fantastic.”

The Outlaws improved their shooting a bit to 34 percent, but definitely made a leap behind the 3-point line as they made five of eight (63 percent). They also were strong on the boards with 34 rebounds.

Caddis Robinson had 10 points, four rebounds, three assists and three steals, Jade Lungwitz eight points and four rebounds, Alina Moran seven points and three rebounds, Berkley Nighswonger seven points, Taryn Sheffield six points and four rebounds, Ashley Ibanez five points and six rebounds, Aubrey Black five points, Jailyn Mekelburg four points and six rebounds, Carolina Ross four points and two rebounds, Bailey Nighswonger three rebounds, and Emma Rayl two assists.

The Outlaws snapped their losing streak earlier last week with a 43-38 win at Caliche. They led by five at halftime, then pushed their lead to 14 in the third quarter. However, they never could pull away from the Buffaloes, but held them off enough that the outcome never really was in doubt.

Yuma made just one of 14 behind the 3-point arc, but came up with 19 steals.

Berkley Nighswonger had 12 points and two rebounds, Robinson nine points and six rebounds, Rayl five points and three assists, Moran five points and six rebounds, Mekelburg four points, Lungwitz four points, Ross two points and two assists, Bailey Nighswonger two points and two assists, Ibanez five rebounds and five steals, and Black four steals.

“I have been pleased with our bench all season, and now it is even deeper,” Robinson said.

Perhaps that will come in handy in the postseason.