YHS boys hitting stride for postseason

It appears the Yuma High School boys basketball team is hitting its stride just in time for the postseason.
Yuma enters the Class 3A Confluence-Metro-Longs Peak District with a 15-4 record after closing out the regular season with a pair of home wins, last weekend.

“I think they are starting to find their feet,” head coach Dave Sheffield said.
Yuma went 7-1 in the Lower Platte, finishing in a three-way tie with Wray and Merino. It’s loss to Merino two weeks ago, the program’s first league loss since 2018, prevented Yuma from winning another outright league title.
It matters little, though, in the big picture as Yuma goes to 3A for the postseason while the rest of the Lower Platte stays in 2A.
Yuma is the second seed in district, behind top-ranked Faith Christian. The former Indians were supposed to play William Smith at home this past Tuesday, but William Smith dropped out, the school stating it did not have a coach anymore. (William Smith had gone 1-14 this season and was 54th out of 56 in the 3A RPI.)
The district tournament was revamped into a six-team field, with Yuma getting a first-round bye along with Faith Christian. Two games still were played this past Tuesday, with third-seed Prospect Ridge beating sixth-seed Lotus School of Excellence, and fifth-seed Manual blowing past fourth-seed Stargate, 75-37. Manual now plays Faith Christian on Friday, while Yuma plays Prospect Ridge
District action now moves to the “Thunderdome” at Manual High School, Friday and Saturday. What times teams would play on Friday were not going to be set until after Tuesday’s games. However, Sheffield said Yuma was hoping for the earliest game times possible. Game times Friday are 1 p.m., 2:30, 4, 5:30 and 7.
The district is playing through sixth place, with the fifth-place games at 10 and 11:30 a.m. on Saturday (Yuma’s teams will not be in those games), third-place games at 1 and 2:30 p.m., and the championship games at 4 and 5:30 p.m.
The boys bracket is fairly tough, with Prospect Ridge at No. 9 in the RPI, Stargate No. 19, and a potentially-scary Manual squad at No. 25.
Prospect Ridge is 12-7 entering Friday’s semifinal. The Miners feature some height, and a point goard in Max Vacco that is averaging 22.4 points per game.
“I think we can pressure them,” Sheffield said. “We have to do a great job on the glass. If we can do that, and contain Vacco, we should be all right.”
If Yuma gets past that one, the team likely will face top-ranked Faith Christian, which features players 6-foot-5 and taller, and have a Division I prospect.
The district winner will get to host a four-team regional next weekend. However, even if Yuma was not to win district, there is a chance they could host a regional as district winners also must be in the Top 16 in the RPI to host, and there is one potential district winner that could finish outside the top 16.
Friday’s semifinal will be Yuma’s first game since last Saturday. Tuesday’s cancellation provides the former Indians a chance to have four straight practices before playing Friday. That is a welcome development after playing three games in each of the past three weeks.
“We haven’t had consecutive practices since I don’t remember when,” Sheffield said.
The team put on an impressive performance in last Friday’s 77-44 home win over Byers, particularly in the first half when Yuma raced out to a 54-15 lead. The boys scored 27 points in both of the first two quarters.
“They found each other really well,” Sheffield said. “I thought our defense was seemless.”
The first half likely was Yuma’s most impressive of the season on both sides of the ball, with overwhelming pressure and speed leading to a great offensive and defensive showing.
Yuma shot 55 percent, had 35 points off turnovers and 44 points in the paint. The defense forced 25 turnovers, while Yuma had just nine.
Forest Rutledge had 14 points and three rebounds, Angel Escobar 13 points and three assists, Jesus Ross 10 points and three steals, Jake Haruf nine points, three rebounds and three assists, Daman Hernandez eight points, four assists and four steals, Jonathan Thomson eight points and two rebounds, Silas Baucke five points and six rebounds, Javier Duran four points, and Kevin Orona, Cristian Duarte, and Nash Richardson two points each.
Yuma was back on the court in The Pit on Saturday afternoon to take on a solid Peyton squad, for a game that had been rescheduled three times.
The home boys again came out hot, leading 21-6 by the end of the first quarter. The Panthers stuck around after that, but the closest they ever got was nine points late in the game in a 63-52 Yuma win.
Haruf had 19 points and two assists, Rutledge 15 points and nine rebounds, Ross 11 points and six rebounds, Hernandez six points, Escobar five points and three steals, Duran four points and three rebounds, Brody Sheffield two points, three steals and two assists, and Duarte one point.