Wednesday, Feb. 18, 2009 | 1 a.m.
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Ray Brewer and Steve Silver breakdown the boys' and girls' basketball playoff picture and debate the consequences of Desert Pines' use of an ineligible player.
After building a 25-point lead over Sierra Vista with less than five minutes remaining in the Sunset Regional quarterfinal Tuesday, Cheyenne prematurely shifted into cruise control.
The Desert Shields' late-game nap nearly allowed a sure blowout to slip away as the Mountain Lions roared back to move within five points.
Unfortunately for Sierra Vista, that was as close as the Mountain Lions came before Cheyenne eked out an 84-79 victory.
"Sierra Vista is one heck of a team," Cheyenne coach Teral Fair said. "I watched them last week do the same thing against Durango. So we knew no lead was a safe lead. They don't stop fighting, their kids don't quit and they play hard and compete."
Despite entering the fourth quarter trailing 64-42, Sierra Vista continued to battle and ended up closing out the game on a 27-7 run fueled by a switch to a full-court pressure defense.
The Mountain Lions outscored the Desert Shields 37-20 in the fourth quarter.
"I have kids that simply don't quit," Sierra Vista coach Kent Johnson said. "It doesn't matter what the scoreboard is or who we are playing they are going to give it all they got down to the very last second. I couldn't be prouder of what we put together tonight."
One of the biggest reasons why the Mountain Lions' comeback bid failed was the stellar performance by Cheyenne's senior guard Demetric Williams, who posted 30 points and six assists.
Williams, who sank 4-of-8 from beyond the arc, tallied 21 points in the second half.
"It's the playoffs, win or go home," Williams said. "I'm very hungry. I don't want to lose."
Junior Chris McCall helped support Williams with 21 points while junior Jaylen Henry added 12. Cheyenne ended the night shooting nearly 54 percent from the floor (28-of-52).
The Mountain Lions defense did manage to successfully hold highly touted Kansas-bound guard Elijah Johnson to just five points from the floor. Johnson, however, finished with 11 total points and 10 rebounds.
"We really wanted to come in here and surprise people," coach Johnson said. "But I'll tell you what, Cheyenne has all kinds of athletes. They are talented. They have guys come off their bench who are just as talented as the starters… They pretty much hurt us everywhere."
Sierra Vista's senior guard Quinten Chow led the Mountain Lions with 21 points while his fellow senior Ray Tapusoa added 20.
The Desert Shields will now face Bishop Gorman in the Sunset Regional semifinals at Palo Verde High School on Thursday at 8 p.m. The Gaels cruised by Centennial 74-56 Tuesday.
"Gorman is going to be a challenge a lot like Sierra Vista," Fair said. "They have a lot of quick guards, they like to play up-tempo. Their kids don't stop playing so it will be a tough game for us."
Steve Silver can be reached at 948-7822 or [email protected].