The Hotchkiss Bulldog boys' basketball team played inspired basketball in last week's 2A District 5 tournament. A 68-63 win over fourth-seed Paonia in quarterfinal play marked the third game between the two rivals in 2017-18 with Hotchkiss (fifth seed) winning two of the three match-ups.
Hotchkiss continued its march to the title game with a Friday afternoon battle with top-seeded Rangely. The Bulldogs pulled off a major upset with its 58-46 win over the Panthers.
In a battle of mini-runs, Meeker's Cowboys (second seed) were able to withstand Hotchkiss' runs to score a 60-55 win and secure the 2A District 5 title in championship play.
Third seed Vail Christian handed Rangely its second loss in tournament play (68-65) to earn third-place honors. Paonia bounced back from its loss to Hotchkiss with a close 66-63 decision (see related story) over number six Plateau Valley for fifth place and a bid to the 2A state tournament.
Meeker 60, HHS 55
Both teams were tentative in first quarter play resulting in a 9-9 tie after eight minutes of play.
Each possession was critical with Meeker (17-4) using a powerful lineup to gain an 11-point advantage in the second quarter following a 25-14 run, sparked by nine points each from Zach Dinwiddie and Logan Hughes.
There was only a two-point scoring difference between the two teams in third quarter play, but with Meeker's earlier advantage, the Cowboys took a 46-33 lead to the fourth quarter.
Jonathan Gonzalez lit a fire for Hotchkiss' 22-point fourth quarter by scoring nine points. Jacob Stucker contributed another seven counters and Sam Rodriguez another five in the Bulldogs' run. Meeker's lead was just too big for the Bulldogs to overcome.
Gonzalez finished the night with four 3s and 18 points for the Bulldogs. Stucker and Eli Patrick finished with double-figure scoring for Hotchkiss with 13 and 11 points, respectively.
Dinwiddie's 15 points paced Meeker's offensive effort with Hughes close behind with 13 points. Valentine Rosas had 12 points to give the Cowboys three players with double-digit scoring numbers for Meeker.
Hotchkiss finished the regular season, and district play, with a record of 14-8 overall and a number 22 seed for this week's Class 2A regional playoffs. The Bulldogs play at 8:15 p.m. in Ignacio and face 11th seed Limon (16-5) in the first round. Number six Ignacio (17-4) plays 27th seed Denver Christian (10-12) at 4:45 p.m. Winners play in the championship game on Saturday, March 3, at 2:45 p.m. with a berth in the state tournament, March 8-10, on the line.
The 2A State Tournament will be held at the Budweiser Event Center in Loveland March 8-10.
The seventh annual Eckert Crane Days, the annual viewing of the sandhill cranes migrating north from New Mexico through Colorado's West Slope, will be March 16-18. Representatives from the Black Canyon Chapter of the Audubon Society (BCAS) will be at the viewing site east of Eckert at Fruitgrowers Reservoir, 9 to 11 a.m. each day, to answer questions and provide binoculars and spotting scopes.