Cheyenne freshman forward Glen Taylor had one of the biggest nights of his young career when it mattered most, scoring 13 points and pulling down five rebounds to lead the Desert Shields’ boys basketball team to a 64-50 win over Chaparral in the Class 3A Southern Region semifinals at Del Sol.
The win sends the Desert Shields, the No. 2 seed from the Sunset League, back to the region final and back to the state tournament.
Cheyenne (17-9) will take on Desert Pines — the top seed from the Sunset League — in the title game at 6 p.m. on Saturday at Del Sol. The two teams split two meetings earlier this season.
“It’s tremendous to go back-to-back years,” Cheyenne coach Teral Fair said. “We’ve been working hard all season, this has been our goal all season long especially for our returning seniors. They’ve had a little taste of that last year. So we realize one of our goals was to get back to the state championship.
“Our plan tonight was the same as all season long, just do what we do: play good hard-nose man-to-man defense, rebound the basketball, attack the rim offensively and just play hard and play together.”
The early pressure led to a 7-0 run to give the Desert Shields a quick 10-2 lead. After Chaparral cut the led to 14-9 at the end of the first quarter, Cheyenne quickly regained control of the game, outscoring the Cowboys 12-4 in the second quarter to take a 26-13 halftime lead.
“We crashed the boards, we passed it, we got out and ran break, and we played defense,” Taylor said. “(Crashing the boards) was very important, the rebounds because when we played (Desert Pines) a few weeks ago, we came up short because of rebounds. So that was the focus of this game – rebounds.”
Cheyenne outrebounded Chaparral 28-13.
The Cowboys made a late run to cut the score to 53-43 with 3:31 remaining. However, Cheyenne’s Jermaine McCormick and Ke’Shawn Hall converted clutch free throws to push the Desert Shields lead to 57-43 and put the game away.
“It’s kind of been our theme all season long,” Fair said. “We’ve had different guys step up at different points during that stretch when we expanded the lead. Actually, we had all of our reserves in at the time, and we preached to all of our kids that you never know when your number is going to be called, so just be ready. Making free throws in clutch situations, playing big minutes in a tough game, it’s what we’ve been training for all season long so I’m very proud of them.”
McCormick finished with 10 points and four rebounds, and Kavon Williams scored 10 points and pulled down five rebounds. Mike Reed led the Desert Shields with seven rebounds. He also scored seven points.
Jonathan Tendale scored 19 points to lead the Cowboys (15-9). He also had four rebounds and four assists. Elijah Briggs added nine points, all on 3-pointers.
Desert Pines 65, Mojave 36 — At Del Sol, Darius Mitchell scored 18 points and pulled down five rebounds to lead the Jaguars past the Rattlers in a Class 3A semifinal.
The Jaguars (19-9), the defending 3A state champions, are back in the state tournament for the sixth straight year.
Desert Pines, the top seed from the Sunset League, used a 8-0 run over the first four minutes of the second quarter to take control of the game.
Dayshawn Wiley scored 11 points with three rebounds and five assists, and Donavan Word added 11 points and dished out five assists for the Jaguars.
Darnell Washington led the Jaguars on the boards with 10 rebounds. He also scored five points.
Tyrice Pender scored 10 points to lead the Rattlers (16-11), and John Harper added nine points and pulled down eight rebounds.