Yuma had great win, interesting time in short-lived 2A tourney

The pregame and postgame definitely were different. There was definitely a more intimate feeling with so few fans in the stands.
However, the competition taking place on the court felt like any other tightly-contested state basketball tournament game.

The Yuma Indians got to run their 2A tourney winning streak to seven, Thursday afternoon in a mostly-empty Budweiser Events Center, before CHSAA eventually pulled the plug on all the state tournaments late that evening — as COVID-19 closings continued to spread throughout Colorado and all over the U.S.

Clay Robinson knocks down a three-pointer during the win over Fowler, Thursday in the 2A quarterfinals. (Dave Gustafson)

All of Thursday’s games were completed, including Yuma’s 55-51 win over Fowler in the 2A quarterfinals. It set up a semifinal against second-seed Limon on Friday. The Badgers had rallied from a 25-5 halftime deficit to beat seventh-seed Peyton 43-34.
Yuma County was going to have half of the semifinal field as Wray beat Sanford earlier Thursday and was set to play top-seed Highland on Friday.
However, that was all stopped dead in its tracks at around 11 p.m. Thursday.
That is when CHSAA officially announced it was canceling the remainder of all state hoop tournaments.
The University of Denver, where the 3A tourney was being held, had informed the association it could no longer host the tournament.
CHSAA’s announcement read in part: With uncertainty at all additional sites, including a state of emergency declaration by the City of Denver, the difficult decision has been made to cancel the remainder of all state basketball tournaments in all classes.
“Everything we’ve done up to this point was to try and keep the experience of a state basketball tournament for our student participants and high school communities,” said CHSAA commissioner Rhonda Blanford-Green. “In the face of this unprecedented public health emergency, we are compelled to discontinue play in all tournaments.”

All tournaments remained set to go as normal until Wednesday evening, when everything started to change.
Javier Gamboa takes a hard foul while getting to the basket during the 2A quarterfinal win over Fowler, Thursday. (Dave Gustafson)
CHSAA first announced the tournaments would be held with no spectators, just the teams and essential personnel, along with sanctioned media getting to attend.
However, it then announced later in the evening, due to passioned pleas from family members, to allow four people per team member to enter the facilities.
Those select few, though, had to be named on a list, and all had to go in together, and only toward the end of when the preceding game. The fans were seated in a specific area until those from the previous game left the arena, and then the next game’s fans were seated.
They then all had to leave immediately after the game.
The Yuma and Fowler fans were treated to a good one. The two teams played an exciting semifinal the previous year, won by Yuma on its way to a second straight 2A title.
Neither team disappointed again Thursday afternoon.
Fowler jumped out to a 9-2 lead, but Yuma kept its composure and battled back to get as close as two points before trailing 18-14 at the end of the quarter.
Three-pointers by Clay Robinson and Rolando Caraveo finally gave Yuma its first lead, 20-18, midway through the second, and the Indians led 24-19 at halftime.
Yuma pushed its lead to 29-19 early in the third, thanks to a 5-0 run courtesy of Caraveo, but Fowler battled back and eventually led 33-30.
Rolando Caraveo gets to the rim during the win over Fowler. (Dave Gustafson)

It was then the Indians’ turn as they closed the quarter on a 7-1 run, capped by Robinson’s layup after a steal for a 37-34 lead.
They built a nine-point lead, 53-44, with about 3 minutes to go. However, they then missed five straight free throws, opening the door for the Grizzlies to get as close at 54-51 with 14 seconds left. Fowler then had a chance to tie after forcing a Yuma turnover, but missed the 3-pointer.

Robinson made one free throw with 8 seconds left to secure the four-point win.
Things got a bit testy at midcourt after the game as one of the Fowler coaches threw some choice words toward the Yuma coaches. The Yuma players did not take kindly to it, but wisely returned to their bench. The coach continued to stare down the Yuma bench until Yuma head coach Dave Sheffield went complained to the tournament official, who then went to the Fowler coach — the only Fowler team member left on the court — and escorted him toward the locker room.
The Yuma bench, and the handful of fans allowed to attend, celebrate a big moment for the Indians in their win over Fowler. (Pioneer Photo)
Robinson had a huge game with 27 points along with seven rebounds. Caraveo had 11 points and two steals, Javier Gamboa 10 points and two rebounds, Chase McCreath five points and three rebounds, and Jonathan Rascon two points and two rebounds.
It was a fun game for those who got to witness it, but unfortunately that was the end fo the state tournament experience in 2020 — ending the Yuma boys’ chances at a third straight 2A championship.
It was a very difficult ending late Thursday night and early Friday morning for the Indians, particularly seniors Chase McCreath, Rolando Caraveo, Jonathan Rascon, Preston Blach and Creighton Eyring.
Look for more insight in the March 19 edition of the Pioneer.