AURORA -- Discipline on defense. Opportunism on its inside game. Everything Tuesday night, was adding up to a Legacy upset in the first round of Class 5A state tournament.
That was, until the third period rolled around.
Those down eight minutes were all that were required for sixth-ranked Cherokee Trail to piece together its 51-38 win in the first round of the Class 5A state tournament. The Cougars finished the period with their first serious lead of the game, jumping up by 14 points, after the Lightning's offense all but disappeared from the floor.
Eleventh-seeded Legacy scored four points out of halftime, leading to the team's ousting from the John Casey Region.
"We were satisfied with being down by five going into halftime," Legacy forward Patrick Medina said. "We weren't the aggressors anymore and it really went downhill."
Medina gave Legacy (7-17) a glimmer of hope in the fourth for a comeback.
The junior exploded at the post, finding every way to get behind the Cherokee Trail defense. The forward was perfect from the floor and the free-throw line in the period, scoring 12 of his game-high 20 points.
Medina drew the game within 10 points about midway through the period. But with no other Lightning's shots dropping, the rally stalled.
"It was frustrating, because I think we played well enough defensively to be there at the end," Legacy coach Gunnar Johnson said.
Legacy far from shut down the athletic Cougars (13-11), but had the team stuck in second gear most of the night.
The Lightning drew a bead on their opponent's inside game, blocking up the driving lanes to halt Cherokee Trail's dribble penetration. The Cougars found the occasional seam on the baseline and through the paint, but had to rely on their perimeter shooting to shepherd home the win.
Cherokee Trail nailed five 3-pointers, with Josh Smith and the team's leading scorer Darian Jackson leading the way each with two apiece. Even with the shots dropping behind the arc, the Cougars were still shaken by Legacy's defensive effort.
"I don't feel like they expected us at all," Medina said.
The loss and up and down season were tough, but the Lightning were optimistic about their future.
The team graduates only two seniors -- Marcus Riddick and Aaron Zang -- with the underclassmen seeing a ton of time this season.
"We had six sophomores and four juniors," Johnson said. "So, we got some good experience this season."
Cherokee Trail 51, Legacy 38
At Cherokee Trail HS
Riddick 1 2-2 4, Mengist 0 1-2 1, Medina 7 6-6 20, McLain 3 0-0 6, McCall 0 1-2 1, Lee 1 0-0 2, Royer 2 0-0 4. Total 14 10-12 38.
CHEROKEE TRAIL (13-11)
Jackson 5 0-0 12, Yon 1 0-0 2, Duresky 0 2-2 2, Smith 2 4-4 10, Greer 2 2-2 6, Nelson 5 0-0 11, Bernstine 4 0-0 8. Total 19 8-8 51.
Score by quarters:
Legacy 11 9 4 12 -- 38
Cherokee Trail 11 14 14 12 -- 51
3-point field goal -- Legacy (0); Cherokee Trail (5): Jackson 2, Smith 2, Nelson. Total fouls -- Legacy 9; Cherokee Trail 15. Fouled out-- none. Technical fouls -- none.