PUEBLO — In the waning minutes of the 4A boys Sweet 16 game between Silver Creek and defending state champion Pueblo West, senior Carter Blink pulled his jersey over his head, exasperated.
He and a strong nucleus of Silver Creek seniors were throwing everything it had at Pueblo West, getting within six, 83-77 with 20 seconds remaining before Blink fouled out as the Cyclones pulled away.
It was a tough, but proud way to end the season for Silver Creek, which capped a school-record 21-win season with a tough 87-79 loss to the Cyclones at Pueblo West High School Wednesday night.
"It'll be really hard to say goodbye to our seniors," head coach Bob Banning said. "They kind of epitomized what we've stressed all year, playing tough defense and grinding and never giving up."
Trailing 75-63 with 2:31 remaining, Silver Creek strung together a four-point play from junior Trent Dykema, who scored a team-high 36 points, to start a 15-point surge by the Raptors over the game's final 150 seconds.
"We knew it could be our last game," Blink said, "and we weren't going to let any game get away. We were going to try whatever we could to get back into it."
But reigning 4A player of the year, Pueblo West's David Simental, drew fouls at will, going 24-for-24 from the free-throw line in the fourth quarter to kill any waning hope of a Silver Creek comeback.
It's what you would expect out of two of the top offenses in the state - Pueblo West put up 34 points in the fourth quarter while the Raptors chipped in 33.
Simental, whose 24 free throws without a miss is a new state record, finished with a game-best 37.
"I really think this was a Final Four-type game at their place," Banning said. "We showed that we really belong with them."
It was a bittersweet end to a magical season that saw a nucleus of seniors Hunter Becvar, Khari Harrison, Sam Schlegel and Blink carry the program to new heights.
"We've been building toward this for four years, and we were ready to take that big step forward," Banning said. "These guys helped raise the bar of expectations and that's always a good thing for a program."
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Pueblo West 87, Silver Creek 79
At Pueblo West
SILVER CREEK (21-4)
Becvar 4 4-6 12, Dykema 11 13-14 36, Blink 5 2-3 14, Harrison 6 4-7 16, Schlegel 0 1-2 1. Totals: 26 24-32 79.
PUEBLO WEST (23-2)
Louther 0 2-4 2, Smyer-Williams 5 2-2 17, Bloesser 1 0-0 2, Simental 6 24-24 37, Taylor 8 1-2 18, Jacquart 3 0-1 6, Wilkinson 2 0-0 4. Totals: 25 29-33 87.
Score by quarters:Silver Creek 21 7 18 33 — 79
Pueblo West 18 19 16 34 — 87
3-point field goals — Silver Creek (3): Blink 2, Dykema; Pueblo West (7): Smyer-WIlliams 5, Simental, Taylor. Fouled out — - Silver Creek: Blink. Pueblo West: Mayber.