Yuma boys hoops at Wiggins

Yuma High School’s boys basketball team entered this week having won five straight.
The boys were 8-2 overall, 4-0 in the Lower Platte, heading into this past Tuesday’s rescheduled home game against undefeated, Class 2A top-ranked Limon. Yuma entered this week No. 4 in the Class 3A RPI, and No. 5 in the CHSAANow.com 3A Top 10 coaches’ poll. They then earned a roller-coaster win over Limon, 61-51, to improve to 9-2.
Yet, the former Indians still have things to clean up.
“We really haven’t started games very well this year,” coach Dave Sheffield said, including last Friday’s slow start in an eventual win over rival Wray in The Pit. “We are looking at different protocols for starting games.”
Yet, the 2022-23 squad seems to be rounding into form for the stretch run in February.
“We’re sealing up the deficiencies every week,” Sheffield said. “(The players) don’t quit, they work their tails off all the time. It’s been good. This is a different team than last year, but I think everyone is figuring it out.”

Thanks to all the rescheduling, Yuma now is entering a busy stretch. Besides this past Tuesday’s game with Limon, the former Tribe traveled to Sidney, Nebraska, on Wednesday, and go to Wiggins on Friday for a league game.
“They’re dangerous,” Sheffield said of the Wiggins Tigers, who are 9-5 overall and 2-1 in the Lower Platte. He said they can rebound, shoot well and are quick. “They are not a team you can sleep on by any means.”
Yuma then hosts the 3A Strasburg Indians (the school has an agreement with an American Indian tribe dating back several years) on Tuesday.
Sheffield noted Yuma potentially could have four straight weeks with three games.
Last weekend featured only a home game with rival Wray, thanks to Saturday’s home game with Peyton being rescheduled to February 15.
It was another fun Yuma County rivalry game played before a packed house in The Pit.
However, it was a little scary for the hometown faithful in the early going as Wray raced out to a 14-6 lead. Yuma closed the gap to 14-10 by the end of the first quarter, and finally took a 15-14 lead early in the second on Jesus Ross’ bucket.
Yuma led 19-16, but Wray went on a 5-0 run for a brief lead again before Yuma scored the last four points points for a 23-21 halftime lead.
The home boys led 31-27 when they closed the third on a 10-0 run, with five different players scoring, to take a 41-27 lead.
Yuma pushed the lead to 16 points early in the fourth, then closed out the game at the charity stripe for a 53-36 win.
It was a big rivalry win for Yuma after escaping the Eagles’ Nest with a two-point decision in the season opener last month. Also, Wray is likely Yuma’s biggest challenge to winning another Lower Platte regular-season title. Wray is now 8-5, 3-1 in league, and is ranked No. 5 in the 2A Top 10 polls and No. 9 in the 2A RPI.
Both teams shot just 41 percent from the floor, but Yuma took 15 more shots. The former Indians also made 11 of 13 at the charity stripe, while Wray made four of eight. Yuma held a slight 26-25 advantage on the boards, and came up with 14 steals while committing just 13 turnovers compared to 26 for Wray.
Yuma was without senior Jake Haruf for the second straight game due to injury, but had plenty of different players continue to step up.
“We have a variety of people who can lead us in scoring any night,” Sheffield said. “We said before the season that our guards have to rebound, and they are, which is huge for us.”
Forest Rutledge had 18 points and two steals, Ross nine points, four rebounds and two steals, Javier Duran eight points and three rebounds, Jonathan Carrillo seven points and eight rebounds, Brody Sheffield six points and two rebounds, Angel Escobar two points and three rebounds, Cristian Duarte two points and two steals, Jonathan Thomson two points, and Daman Hernandez three rebounds and three assists.
The former Indians then had their most impressive half of the season, completely overwhelming 2A top-ranked Limon in the first half for a 34-13 lead.
However, the Badgers started taking advantage of their size advantage in the second half, and Yuma had several players get into foul trouble.
Limon got as close as three points in the fourth quarter. But Yuma sealed the game by going 14-for-14 at the charity stripe, sealing the deal for a 10-point win. Overall, Yuma made 21 of 23 at the free-throw line, while Limon made 10 of 21.
Rutledge had 21 points and 10 rebounds for another double-double, Jake Haruf (in his first action in over a week due to injury) 11 points and three rebounds, Ross nine points and two rebounds, Escobar seven points and three rebounds, Sheffield six points, four rebounds and three assists, Hernandez five poitns and two steals, Duran two points, three rebounds and three assists, Carrillo three steals and two assists, and Duarte two assists.