Defense lifts Cimarron girls past Legacy, buoys playoff hopes


Cimarron-Memorial’s postseason hopes were on life support and fading fast Friday.

In a must-win game, the visiting Spartans were without their starting point guard and trailing Legacy’s girls basketball team by four points with less than 90 seconds to play.

That’s when Cimarron came to life, scoring the game’s final six points and putting a cap on a fantastic second-half defensive effort in a 31-29 win over the Longhorns.

A Legacy win would have all but  secured the Southwest League’s final playoff spot. Instead, Cimarron (11-13, 2-6 Southwest) and Legacy (13-14, 2-6) are tied for fourth, with the Spartans holding the tiebreaker by virtue of a season-series sweep. Each team has two league games left.

“We could have laid down, but we just kept fighting,” Cimarron coach Greg Holloway said. “I applaud the girls. I’m so proud of these girls. We showed a lot of heart.”

Taya Harper’s jumper with 1:17 to go brought Cimarron to within 29-27 and was just the second made Spartans field goal of the second half.

After a Legacy turnover, Kiana Carter made one of two free throws to halve the lead with 55.1 seconds left, and then following a missed free throw by Legacy, Carter pulled up on a baseline drive and made the go-ahead basket with 35 seconds left.

The Spartans made just one of four free throws in the final 25 seconds but held on as Legacy committed two turnovers and missed a 17-footer just before the buzzer.

“I think the girls realized that we only get one shot at this,” Holloway said. “Our mantra has been, 'Play together as long as we can.’ I would have loved to play on this team.”

Legacy, which led 21-18 at the half, went 1 of 24 from the field with 15 turnovers in the second half as Cimarron switched between a box-and-one defense on Longhorns wing Tori Payne and 2-3 and 3-2 zones. Legacy was 0-for-14 with nine turnovers in the fourth quarter.

“Right out of Syracuse’s playbook,” Holloway said. “We just kept mixing it up. This is a good win for our program.”

Harper and Emily Cox each had 10 points for Cimarron, though Cox missed the final nine minutes with a leg injury. Chalon Henderson had 10 rebounds for the Spartans.

Markeisha Evans had 10 points and nine rebounds for Legacy, and Payne added nine points and 12 rebounds.