Yuma boys display contender potential

Yuma High School’s boys basketball team is one long-range shot away from having a perfect Christmas.
As it stands, the Indians still are in great shape for the holiday break, going 5-1 in December — their lone loss coming in a double-overtime loss to Eaton on a last-second 3-pointer last Saturday in the inaugural YHS Holiday Tournament.

“It was a great pre-Christmas for us,” coach Dave Sheffield said. “Our schedule is really good. We found out the places where we are really good and the places where we need to work on.”
Yuma enters the holidays ranked No. 1 in Class 2A (CHSAANow.com polls) and remain No. 1 in the 2A Rating Percentage Index.
The Indians will begin their run through the salty Lower Platte Activities Association when the season resumes in January. Besides Yuma, Wray and Holyoke are ranked in the 2A Top 10, and Merino and Haxtun are highly ranked in 1A.
“The LPAA is solid,” Sheffield said.
Yuma opened tourney play last Friday night against a Heritage Christian team that came to town with a 3-1 record.
However, it was never close from the beginning.
The Indians ran out to a 21-7 lead in the first quarter. They were even more dominating in the second, building a 43-12 lead.
Sheffield rested most of his regular rotation players in the second half, but the Indians continued to dominate as they built a 66-24 lead through three quarters, eventually winning 70-34.
The coach noted Heritage Christian lost by only 15 to Limon in the next day’s third-place game.
“We were able to get it at our pace, which is what we needed to do,” Sheffield said.
Yuma shot 52 percent, making 16 of 30 2-pointers and 11 of 22 from behind the 3-point arc, while also making five of nine at the charity stripe. The Indians held a 27-14 rebounding advantage, and came up with 18 steals with their full-court pressure.
A total of 10 players scored for Yuma. Clay Robinson had 18 points, four rebounds and three steals, Jake Haruf came off the bench in the second half to hit three 3-pointers to finish with 13 points, three steals and two rebounds, Forest Rutledge 11 points, three steals and two rebounds, Beau Tate six points, three rebounds and two steals, Jesus Ross five points, two rebounds and two steals, Jonathan Carillo four points, Jaxson Lungwitz four points and three steals, Angel Escobar four points, Javier Gamboa three points and two rebounds, Kobe Rayl two points and three rebounds, and Cesar Varela three rebounds.
Eaton, No. 6 in 3A, beat Limon, No. 2 in 2A, in the other first-round game, setting up a showdown with Yuma’s old Patriot League nemesis in Saturday’s championship game.
It had been more than 10 years since Yuma had played Eaton, but Saturday’s game made it seem just like old times as the teams battled to double overtime.
Eaton built a 17-12 lead in the first quarter, but Ross scored five straight to tie the score at heading into the second.
Yuma outbattled the Reds just enough in that stanza to take a 32-29 lead at halftime.
The Indians led by as much as five in the third, 40-35, but Eaton closed the quarter with a 6-0 spurt for a 41-40 lead.
It was a bit scary midway through the fourth as Eaton took a 51-42 lead.
However, the Indians kept battling. Robinson scored six straight for the Tribe, and Ross knocked down a trey to pull Yuma within three, 57-54. A technical was called on Eaton, with Robinson making one from the stripe, followed by Rutledge making a basket to tie it at 57 with 35 seconds left.
Eaton made two free throws a few seconds later, but Tate made a basket to tie it again, forcing overtime.
Yuma took a 63-60 lead in the extra session, but Eaton tied it with a 3-pointer. Robinson put Yuma back ahead, but Eaton tied it again at 65. The Reds had one last chance at the win, but could muster only a tough shot against Yuma’s defense, leading to a second overtime.
Yuma had three players foul out, Javier Duran, Gamboa and Tate, but still led 68-67 with 17 seconds left.
Eaton had the ball for the last shot, though, and the Reds’ Grable knocked down a 3-pointer at the buzzer as the Reds escaped with a 70-68 thriller.
“I thought we scrambled well and our effort was off the charts,” Sheffield said. “We didn’t shoot incredibly well, but we still had a chance to win, which speaks volumes to our effort.”
Yuma shot 37 percent compared to Eaton’s 41 percent, and made just six of 29 from long range (20.7 percent), while Eaton made 10 of 24. The Reds shot 16 more from the charity stripe but neither team was particularly good there as Eaton made 10 of 24 and Yuma six of 16. Yuma held a 40-26 rebounding advantage, but committed a season-high 22 turnovers, while Eaton had 16.
Robinson had 19 points, six rebounds and five steals, Ross 16 points, five rebounds and five steals, Tate a double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds along with three steals, Gamboa 10 points, Duran nine points, three rebounds and three steals, and Rutledge four points, nine rebounds and three steals.