The Durango High School boys basketball team knew it needed to execute a certain gameplan to beat No. 1 seed Sierra in the Bill Weimar Region district tournament to keep its Class 4A postseason hopes alive.
That plan: Shut down Sierra big man and University of Colorado recruit Wesley Gordon and slow down the Stallions’ fast-charging transition game.
DHS head coach Alan Batiste said the Demons did both to near-perfection – except for that one quarter.
“It went really well, minus one quarter,” Batiste said. “One quarter killed us.”
That one quarter was No. 2, where after battling to an 8-8 tie in the first quarter, the Stallions ran off a 20-0 run that lasted the full eight minutes and left Durango too far behind to play catch-up in a 51-30 season-ending loss.
“I wish it was a 10-0 run rather than a 20. That’s really hard to come back on a team like that, too,” Batiste said.
Although Sierra jumped to a 6-0 lead to start the game, the Demons battled back with eight of their own, frustrating the fast-paced Stallions with a stiff zone defense.
Batiste said Nick Hamlin was tasked with the demanding job of controlling the paint and handling Gordon, who is averaging more than 20 points a game.
The Demons held him to low double digits, Batiste said.
“We knew (Gordon) didn’t want to be physical ... and Hamlin did a great job on defense,” Batiste said.
But the slow-down frustration, which Batiste said was visible on the faces of the Stallion coaches, fans and players, faded into elation when the outside shots started to fall.
Instead of their usual layup-heavy attack, the Stallions’ long ball piled on the points.
“We made them shoot from the outside, and they just knocked down shots. We did what we were supposed to, and that was the one thing I feared,” Batiste said. “They’re 10 times harder to beat if they’re hitting shots.
“And we didn’t hit anything. We got the looks, and they were all on target; we just didn’t hit it.”
The rout didn’t continue after the half, though. In the final two quarters, the Demons lost by just one point – 23-22.
Morgan Miller led the way for the Demons, scoring double digits, some from beyond the arc and some from down low, said Batiste, who didn’t have official statistics from the second-round playoff game.
But the Stallions continued to match basket for basket from the outside.
“We finished the game 23-22 in the second half,” Batiste said. “We look at that second quarter, and who knows what could’ve happened.”
The Demons finished their season with a winning 13-12 record and their first appearance at the state tournament since 2007.