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Boys basketball: Skyline’s season halted on road at Elizabeth

ELIZABETH — After winning just three games his sophomore year and two more as a junior, Skyline senior Tyler Wright began to wonder if he could stick with basketball.

Wright’s prep career ended Friday when the Falcons, seeded 11th in the Bill Weimar Region, lost 83-56 to the No. 6-seeded Elizabeth Cardinals. But it ended at the 4A state tournament, something Wright had feared would elude him and the other seniors forever until the 2012 bracket was announced.

“Words can’t even describe it,” said Wright, who also said he wants to be able to come back and watch from the bench. “We had a team bonding meeting on Sunday. We watched the selection show on TV. My heart was racing when I was watching it and our name popped up.

“Even though we lost, getting to the state tournament was a way bigger turnaround from last year when we only had two wins.”

In Friday’s tournament game, the Falcons’ plan was to go inside to Wright, who had eight points and seven rebounds, and 6-foot-6 junior Colton Dabney, who led the team with 12 points and six blocked shots. SHS got the ball down low consistently, but struggled finishing plays. When the Falcons got to the foul line, they shot just 10 for 24.

“We didn’t really finish for points when we got it in the hole,” said senior guard Austin Gutierrez, who finished with eight points. “We had a lot of chances to get points, we just couldn’t finish.”

The Falcons (9-15) couldn’t get past the Cardinals’ post defense in the second quarter. They scored just seven points and fell behind 35-22 at halftime.

Cardinals guard Logan Walker caught fire and scored 14 third-quarter points to increase the lead to 20 with 4:10 left in the third quarter.

Defensively, the Falcons knew defending the long ball would be key against the Cardinals (15-9), who play a deep guard rotation and attempted 514 3-pointers during the regular season.

Four Cardinals combined to hit nine 3-pointers against the Falcons, who had a tough time defending the opposing perimeter players.

“We just struggled because they can all shoot but they can also all drive so you have to find that perfect balance between getting a hand up on shooters and stopping the drive,” said senior point guard Marcus Rice, who scored eight points. “I don’t think we did that tonight.”

The Falcons’ bus broke down in Castle Rock so the game was delayed a half hour until 7:30 p.m. It was typical of a season in which they were forced to play nearly three-fourths of their games on the road because of floor damage to their home gym.

In the end, it was a brutal ending to a season in which the Falcons won more games than the past two seasons combined.

“We worked our butts off the whole offseason to take this huge step,” Rice said. “I’m really proud of our team. This was a really hard way to go out, obviously, but it was a really hard season.”

Junior forward Zach Anthony scored 10 points for the Falcons and Dustin Mandrell hit their only 3-pointer.

The Cardinals will go on to play No. 3-seeded Montrose (19-4) on Friday at D’Evelyn High School.

Brad Cochi can be reached at bcochi@times-call.com.

Elizabeth 83, Skyline 56

At Elizabeth HS

SKYLINE (9-15)

Soriano 0 0-0 0, Elcock 0 0-0 0, Dabney 5 2-4 12, Mandrell 1 1-2 4, Gutierrez 2 4-4 8, Leija 0 0-0 0, Stuvel 0 0-0 0, Rice 3 2-4 8, Quesada 3 0-0 6, Buchtel 0 0-0 0, Anthony 5 0-0 10, Wright 3 2-10 8. Totals 21 10-24 56.

ELIZABETH (15-9)

Boss 0 0-0 0, L. Walker 6 3-3 18, Js. Christiansen 0 0-0 0, Stephens 0 0-0 0, Ross 6 0-0 13, Wilson 0 0-0 0, Severinsen 0 2-2 2, Jo. Christiansen 4 2-2 10, Steinke 6 1-3 14, D. Walker 1 0-0 2, Gavitt 6 4-5 20, Weber 1 2-4 4. Totals 30 14-19 83.

Score by quarters:

Skyline 15 7 20 14 — 56

Elizabeth 16 19 26 22 — 83

3-point field goals — Skyline (1): Mandrell; Elizabeth (9): Gavitt 4, L. Walker 3, Steinke, Ross. Total fouls — Skyline 13, Elizabeth 18. Fouled out — None. Technical fouls — None.

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