Yuma Outlaws just keep on rolling

Head coach Dave Sheffield and his staff just keep cranking out successful teams.

The Yuma High School boys basketball team is 10-1 and up to No. 2 in the Class 3A CHSAA Selection & Seeding Index, with some very interesting games coming up this weekend.

The Outlaws have won 10 straight, including last weekend’s 64-41 win at Akron on Friday, followed by a huge 67-62 win over previously-undefeated Sidney on Saturday afternoon in The Pit.

“We lost a lot of guys from last year,” Sheffield said, “but these guys have great skill and they’ve developed great chemistry. You can be pretty good when you develop chemistry like that.”

Yuma now has more big tests this weekend. The Outlaws travel to rival on Wray on Friday. The Eagles are 7-5, winning five of their last six, and currently are No. 7 in the 2A Index.

“It will be a traditional Yuma-Wray game,” Sheffield said.

The Outlaws then make the long trip to Peyton on Saturday to take on a 6-4 Panthers squad that entered this week No. 14 in the 3A Index before this past Monday’s rescheduled game with Swallows Charter Academy.

“They’re athletic and have good size,” Sheffield said. “This weekend will be a real good one for us.”

Last weekend was a good one as the Outlaws pushed their winning streak to double figures.

It began Friday in Akron, where a scrappy Rams squad kept sticking around.

Yuma scored the game’s first nine points, but Brody Sheffield picked up three fouls less than 2 minutes into the game, and Jonathan Thomson had two midway through the quarter. Akron battled back to trail just 16-11. It was 31-21 at halftime, but Akron continued to stay within 10 points or so in the third quarter.

The Outlaws finally pulled away in the fourth with an 18-6 advantage for a 64-41 win.

Akron missed all six of its shots from 3-point land, while it took Yuma 29 shots from deep to make just six (21 percent). The Outlaws were much more effective inside the arc, shooting 66 percent. Akron held a 30-20 advantage on the boards, but committed 23 turnovers while the Outlaws had just six and came up with 11 steals.

Sheffield finished with 23 points, making five 3-pointers, six rebounds and three steals, Thomson had 12 points, eight rebounds and four assists, Cristian Duarte 10 points, three assists and four steals, Edwin Munoz seven points and two assists, Cesar Gamboa six points, Alex Pensado four points, and Iann Duran two points.

Yuma was home the next afternoon for a big showdown with the Sidney Red Raiders, pulling out an exciting 67-62 win.

The Red Raiders came to town undefeated, and had handed Yuma a blowout loss last season.

It was looking like it might happen again as they raced out to an 8-1 lead.

“It didn’t look good,” Sheffield said. “That was partly my fault because I adjusted the defense a little bit and it wasn’t working.”

The Outlaws quickly adjusted, pulling to within 18-17 by the end of the first quarter. They continued to dominate in the second as they led by as much as 10 before settling for a 36-29 lead at halftime, outscoring the Red Raiders 35-21 after the early 8-1 deficit.

However, it was Sidney’s turn early in the third as they came back to take a 42-37 lead. The Red Raiders led 44-40 when Yuma went on exciting 10-0 run. Sheffield was injured while getting fouled and had to go to the bench. Pensado, a freshman, came on to shoot the fouls, making the first, missing the second but getting a rebound for a putback. He then got a steal and fed Duarte for a layup. There was more drama at the end of the quarter with a technical called on Yuma, but the Outlaws led 51-47.

There were not any wild swings in the fourth as Yuma led by as much as 10, then held off the Red Raiders in the final minutes for the five-point win.

“That was a huge win for us,” Sheffield said. “The guys adjusted really well and showed how resilient they are.”

Both teams made six 3-pointers but Sidney took nine more. Though two Yuma players fouled out, Thomson and Gamboa, the Outlaws had a big advantage as the charity stripe, making 19 of 34 compared to Sidney making eight of 12.

Sheffield finished with 28 points, making four 3-pointers, and four rebounds, Duarte 13 points and two assists, Gamboa nine points and three rebounds, Thomson seven points, seven rebounds and four assists, Munoz five points and two assists, Pensado three points, four rebounds, two assists and two steals, and Reyli Trejo two points and two rebounds.

“I really like this group,” Sheffield said. “It’s pretty cool. We have enough to do everything we want to do.”