Coach Dave Sheffield reached a personal milestone last weekend, but there is still a lot to accomplish with this season’s Yuma Outlaws.
“That win was a neat win because it hit a personal milestone, but that win was much more significant in that it kept us at No. 2 in the seeding index and continues to keep us in the best postseason spot possible,” Sheffield said.
Sheffield, in his 10th season leading the YHS boys, notched his 400th coaching win last Saturday at Peyton. While undeniably a notable milestone, the coach is focused on getting his current squad back to the state tournament with a shot at a fourth title in seven seasons.
“This team has a very high ceiling,” Sheffield said. “We are still in the process of redefining elements, as well as simply developing others. We haven’t accomplished anything yet. We have games that will determine the conference championship, as well as some great games that will determine our placement in the postseason.”
The Outlaws are now 13-1 on the season and still No. 2 in the Class 3A CHSAA Selection & Seeding Index, after beating Wiggins 79-48 Thursday night in The Pit, giving Sheffield his 401st win. They next have another long road trip Saturday to Strasburg.
The still-Indians, courtesy of an agreement with an American Indian tribe, are 13-1 entering this week and No. 6 in the Index.
“Saturday will be a huge game,” Sheffield said. “They have good size and have good guard play.”
Wiggins entered this week 6-7 and No. 23 in the 2A Index.
The current gang of Outlaws, Yuma’s first since taking on a new mascot earlier this school year, helped “Sheff” reach his coaching milestone with a pair of hard-fought road wins last weekend.
It began with the season’s second showdown with Yuma County-rival Wray, with the Outlaws eventually pulling out a 58-53 win.
Wray entered the rivalry game with a 7-5 record, but the Outlaws knew it would not be easy in the Eagles’ Nest.
“Their record doesn’t show it, but you knew it was going to be a really good environment,” Sheffield said. “We knew it wasn’t going to be easy by any means.”
The Outlaws raced out to a 15-3 lead, but the Eagles closed the first quarter on a 16-5 run to trail just 20-19. The home team then scored six straight late in the second quarter, outscoring the Outlaws 12-8 in the stanza for a 31-28 halftime lead.
However, Yuma never flinched in the hostile environs. The Outlaws battled back in the third to take a 46-43 lead, then did just enough down the stretch to hold off the Eagles for the 58-53 win.
“For us, it was a high need for conference,” Sheffield said, “and everything is for RPI.”
Yuma shot only 31 percent, compared to 41 percent for Wray, but took 12 more shots, made three more from behind the arc and held a 46-34 rebounding advantage, including 25 offensive rebounds.
Brody Sheffield finished with 25 points, four assists and three rebounds, Jonathan Thomson 14 points, 18 rebounds and three steals, Cesar Gamboa nine points and eight rebounds, Edwin Munoz eight points, eight rebounds and four steals, and Cristian Duarte two points, four rebounds, three assists and three steals. Wray’s big two of AB Ruiz and Rafael Trejo combined for 39 points, but nobody else scored more than six.
After the emotional rivalry win, the players had to get on the bus early the next morning for the long trip to Peyton near Colorado Springs.
The Outlaws were able to withstand another spirited challenge from the Panthers for Sheffield’s 400th win with a 58-49 victory.
“I knew the Peyton game would be a test endurance wise,” Sheffield said, “being on the bus by 7:30 a.m., then sitting around there for three hours before getting to play.”
An enthusiastic Panthers squad scored nine straight in the first quarter while building a 14-8 lead, then pushed it to 16-8 early in the second to conclude a 14-4 run. However, the Outlaws kept chipping away with their constant aggression and quickness, eventually ending the second on an 11-4 spurt for a 26-23 lead.
Duarte and Gamboa helped push the lead to nine, 41-32, in the third. While it sometimes got spirited on the floor, the Panthers never could get closer than five the rest of the game as the Outlaws gladly secured Sheffield’s 400th career win.
“Peyton will win their conference,” Sheffield said. “Overall in that first quarter we were really slow, but I thought we did a good job of reorganizing our energy.”
Yuma again did not shoot as well as the opponent, 37 percent to 48 percent. Neither team shot well from deep, but Yuma made three more behind the arc, made four more free throws and came up with 15 steals.
B. Sheffield made four from long range while finishing with 17 points, five steals and five rebounds, while Thomson had 14 points and four rebounds, Duarte 12 points, Gamboa six points and four rebounds, Munoz five points and four rebounds, and Alex Pensado four points and three assists.