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Boys basketball finishes fourth at state tournament

Despite closing the gap to three points in the final quarter, the Jags lose to the Pittsburg Dragons 58-56

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The boys basketball team lost to the Pittsburg Purple Dragons, 58-56 ,in the third place game of the state tournament on Saturday, March 10. The Jags finished the season 12-13.

The Purple Dragons started off the first quarter on a 10-0 run. The Jaguars fought back with baskets from seniors Ike Valencia, Cooper Kaifes and Sammy Rebeck as well as freshman Keeshawn Mason to get within four. However, Pittsburg was able to expand on its lead to 17-10 at the end of the first quarter.

According to head coach Michael Bennett, the early scoring by Pittsburg lead to the team having to exert more energy on already “tired legs” after playing their third game in four days.

“It just put us in a hole early and that was the hardest thing because you’ve got to exert more energy,” Bennett said. “So we had to exert energy to try to fight back and in the end we ran out of energy, out of time. So maybe it affected us in the end.”

The second quarter was back and forth. The Jaguars were able to keep the game close with three three-pointers by Kaifes. The Jaguars went into halftime trailing 31-24.

The Jaguars came out strong in the third quarter with five consecutive points, and were able to get within five. But a 11-4 run gave the Purple Dragons a 47-35 lead.

Senior Brody Flaming believes that although the team had opportunities to get back in the game, Pittsburg would find a way to regain control.

“We’d score and something would happen and they would get an easy bucket,” Flaming said. “It just kind of killed us.”

The Jaguars started off the fourth quarter strong with six straight points, as well as blocks by Mason and Valencia. They were able to get within two points three times in the fourth quarter, but Pittsburg had a answer each time. The final score was 58-56.

Bennett believes that the team was not able to perform well enough at the end of the game to catch up to Pittsburg.

“You’ve got to execute at the end and we didn’t necessarily do that,” Bennett said. “We had our opportunities but we didn’t necessarily execute to finally close the gap.”

Overall, Flaming believes that the season went better than many people expected.

“I think we proved a lot of people wrong. We definitely did a lot of things that a lot of people weren’t expecting,” Flaming said. “I think we surprised a lot of people. We may have even surprised ourselves a little bit that we made it to the state tournament and even made it past the first round. So I’m really proud of all of my boys and really excited to see what they can do next year.”

Bennett agreed, adding that he was proud of the fight that the team has shown throughout the season.

“Our kids fought. That’s what I told them. We could’ve shut up and closed it up early many times in the season and during this game and they didn’t,” Bennett said. “They fought until the end. I was really proud of their effort today and through the whole season.”

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Boys basketball finishes fourth at state tournament