Wray comeback denies Sanford state title

Sanford High School’s McCray Larsen (23) looks to make a move to the basket against Wray’s A.B. Ruiz (20) and Chris Arambula (4) in the Class 2A State Tournament championship game Saturday at the Budweiser Events Center in Loveland. The Mustangs lost to the Eagles 45-41 (Courier photo by Ken Hamrick).

LOVELAND – The seventh-ranked Sanford High School had a 10-point halftime lead over fourth-ranked Wray in the Class 2A State Tournament championship game Saturday at the Budweiser Events Center.

The Eagles then put together an effective full-court press in the second half, which worked in their favor. Wray forced several turnovers and bad shots by the Mustangs, and the Eagles took advantage and came back to win by a score of 45-41.

“We had a hard time breaking their press,” said Sanford coach Brice Crowther. “We definitely had a hard time breaking it. We were hoping for one more win.”

Wray took the early lead on layups by Rafael Trejo and A.B. Ruiz. Justin McCarroll put the Mustangs on the board and then Ben Sittler made a 3-point basket to give Sanford a 5-4 lead.

Chris Arambula made a three for the Eagles to help them regain the lead. Ben Sittler drove for a layup to tie the score, but Joey Uyenura drained a trey for a 10-7 Wray advantage.

McCarroll and Ben Sittler both scored to put Sanford back into the lead, and Cash Caldon made two free throws for a 13-10 Mustang lead at the end of the first quarter.

Sittler and McCray Larsen extended the lead to 17-10 before Arambula made another 3-pointer. Trason Gartrell scored a layup, and Larsen hit a jumper and he added a free throw for a 22-13 advantage.

Ruiz ended the Sanford run with a layup, but Gartrell scored another layup, and Craig Ford buried a three to give Sanford a 27-15 lead with two minutes left in the second quarter.

Uyemura ended the period with a layup, but the Mustangs led 27-17 at halftime.

Uyemura opened the second-half scoring with a layup, but Caldon hit a 3-pointer for a 30-19 advantage.

Arambula scored a layup, but Larsen made back-to-back layups to give Sanford its largest lead of the game at 34-21 with 4:10 left in the third.

Ruiz started the Wray comeback with a layup, and Trejo and Ruiz both scored to bring the Eagles within 34-27 at the end of the period.

McCarroll opened the fourth quarter with a layup, but Trejo split at the free throw line, and he then scored in the paint to reduce the Mustangs’ lead to 36-30. Larsen split at the line, but Trejo scored again.

Arambula then made back-to-back 3-pointers to give Wray the lead at 38-37 with 4:29 to play. He then made two free throws, and so did Uyemura and the Eagles led 42-37.

Uyemura made one of two from the line, but Caldon drove for a layup to bring the Mustangs within 43-39. Arambula also split at the line, but Ben Sittler made a layup to help Sanford cut the deficit to 44-41.

Wray turned the ball over to give Sanford a chance to tie the game. However, the Mustangs also recorded a turnover, and Adonay Gonzalez made one of two free throws to seal the victory.

Ben Sittler led Sanford in scoring with 11 points, followed by Larson with 10.

Arambula was Wray’s top scorer with 14 points, and Uyemura scored 13.

Sanford ended the season with a record of 18 wins and nine losses, and it loses four seniors to graduation including three starters.

“We’re losing a lot of size and a lot of great leadership,” Crowther said. “But hopefully we’ll get some of these younger kids to grow some and also grow as leaders too.”

Del Norte girls finish sixth

GREELEY - The sixth-ranked Del Norte High School girls basketball team finished its season with a 41-32 loss to 13th-ranked Limon in the Class 2A State Tournament consolation championship Saturday at the University of Northern Colorado’s Bank of Colorado Arena.

The Lady Badgers led 8-3 after the first quarter, but the Lady Tigers closed to within 14-10 at halftime. Limon increased the lead to 32-17 after the third quarter.

Del Norte attempted a comeback in the fourth quarter but could come no closer than the final score.

Individual statistics for the Lady Tigers were unavailable.

Del Norte ends the season with 20 wins and seven losses.

Wray 45, Sanford 41

Sanford – Ford 1 0-0 3, Caldon 2 2-2 7, B. Sittler 5 0-3 11, McCarroll 3 0-0 6, Larsen 4 2-3 10, A. Sittler 0 0-0 0, Reynolds 0 0-0 0, Garteell 2 0-0 4. Total 17 4-8 41.

3-point goals – Caldon 1, Ford 1, B. Sittler 1. Total 3.

Wray – Arambula 4 3-4 14, Teejo 4 1-2 9, Ruiz 4 0-0 8, Riggleman 0 0-0 0, Uyemura 4 3-4 13, Gonzalez 0 1-4 1, Peterson 0 0-0 0, Shay 0 0-0 0. Total 16 8-14 45.

3-point goals – Arambula 3, Uyemura 2. Total 5.

Sanford 13 14 7 7 – 41

Wray 10 7 10 18 – 45

Fouls – Sanford 17, Wray 12. Fouled out – Larsen.