Coach Teral Fair is well aware his Cheyenne boys basketball team has no postseason experience. So anytime he can watch his squad play composed ball in an atmosphere that holds playoff implications, he takes it as a positive.
The Desert Shields got that opportunity and didn’t waste it Thursday.
Senior guard Edward Shaw scored 22 points, and visiting Cheyenne outlasted Faith Lutheran 49-48 in a pivotal Division I-A Sunset League game.
“Coming into today, we were still a little emotionally blown out from the loss (at Mojave) a couple nights ago,” Fair said. “We just wanted to get back to basics. We didn’t want to get into a situation where we were shooting ourselves in the foot with breakdowns on defense or turnovers.”
Shaw foiled a boisterous student section to sink 9 of 10 free throws, including two key conversions down the stretch.
Cheyenne (10-8, 4-2) forced the Crusaders into 15 first-half turnovers to take their largest lead at 29-21 late in the second quarter, but senior Austin Ortwein’s strong long-distance shooting kept Faith Lutheran close. He made 4 of 6 3-point attempts and finished with 12 points.
Taking better care of the ball, the Crusaders went on a 13-5 run to take their first lead, 36-34, with 2:15 left in the third quarter. Faith Lutheran shot 7-for-11 from the field in the period.
Cheyenne’s first basket of the fourth quarter didn’t come until nearly four minutes in, on Stephen Miller’s jumper from the elbow. That ignited a 7-1 spurt by the Desert Shields, and the Crusaders’ failed to find any offensive rhythm in the final four minutes.
Cheyenne built a 48-44 lead with 31 seconds to play, but a basket by Faith Lutheran (10-11, 3-3) quickly cut the deficit in half. That was as close as the Crusaders got, as a costly turnover with 3.9 seconds left and Bryan Laws’ free throw for Cheyenne put the game out of reach. Laws, a senior forward, finished with nine points and seven rebounds.
“We’re a man-to-man defensive team, and at the end of the day, that’s our rock and our foundation,” Fair said.
D’Khari Hicks supplied nine points for Faith Lutheran, and Clayton Holthaus controlled the glass with 11 rebounds.