Yuma boys ready for tough district

Talk about a stacked district.

The awkwardly-named Confluence-Metro-Longs Peak District features five of the top 18 teams in the Class 3A CHSAA Selection & Seeding Index.

Forge Christian is No. 1, and Yuma is right behind at No. 2. Both enter the postseason with 16-3 records. Manual is No. 11 at 13-6, Stargate No. 16 at 12-7, and Prospect Ridge Academy No. 18 at 9-10. The only outlier is William Smith at No. 54 with a 1-10 record.

Yuma is the second seed in the district. The Outlaws have a bye into Friday’s semifinals at Manual High School. They will play at 4:30 p.m. against the winner of this past Tuesday’s Manual-William Smith game, which Manual won with ease.

The Outlaws played at Manual in the season opener on December 1, losing 79-70.

“That was the first game of the season,” head coach Dave Sheffield noted. “We’re different, they’re different. There’s more familiarity in a game late in the season versus a game early. We both have a lot of film on each other now.

Top-seed Forge Christian is on the other side of the bracket, playing the other semifinal Friday against the winner of this past Tuesday’s Stargate-Prospect Ridge Academy game. The semifinal winners meet in the district championship game Saturday at 5:30 p.m., while the third-place game is at 2:30 p.m.

The district winner will host a four-team regional next weekend. However, a second team from the district could host a regional as there possibly will be at least one district tournament champion that will not be in the Index’s Top 16 — a requirement for a district winner to host a regional.

Sheffield said he would rather not contemplate the Outlaws hosting a regional even if they do not win district: “You win district, you take care of that.”

Yuma closed out the regular season last week with two wins.

It began earlier last week with a 72-32 win at Caliche. The outcome never was in doubt as the Outlaws led 25-8 by the end of the first quarter, and 42-10 at halftime.

They shot 51 percent, including making nine of 21 from long range, pulled down 40 rebounds and came up with 15 steals.

Brody Sheffield made four treys while finishing with 14 points and 10 rebounds, Cristian Duarte had 11 points, Miles Rutledge nine points, Alex Pensado nine points and four steals, Jonathan Thomson nine points, six rebounds and three assists, Edwin Munoz eight points and two steals, Cesar Gamboa five points and three rebounds, Noe Quezada five points and three steals, and David Covarrubias two points and seven rebounds.

Yuma closed out the regular season last Friday at Byers with a 62-45 win.

The Outlaws went ahead 16-6 before settling for a 20-13 lead at the end of the first quarter. They pushed the lead to 37-19 by halftime. They led by as much as 22, 56-34, early in the fourth before Byers cut a bit into the final deficit.

Both teams made six 3-pointers, but Yuma shot 47 percent inside the arc, made seven more free throws, and held a 47-27 advantage on the glass.

Duarte had 23 points and three steals, Munoz 11 points and four rebounds, Thomson 11 points and 17 rebounds, Sheffield nine points, 10 rebounds and five assists, Gamboa seven points and eight rebounds, Pensado three assists and two steals, Quezada one point, and Rutledge two rebounds.

“I thought it was a great regular season for us,” Sheffield said. “We saw a lot of growth from a lot of different players.”