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Eads senior Connor Wollert is fouled by Granada’s Jonus Guevara during District 2 tournament action in La Junta.
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Eads Boys Seeded 15th in Regional Tournament: Will Travel to Jewish Day Academy

By Betsy Barnett

March 1, 2023

The Eads Eagles entered the very competitive District 2 tournament seeded #5 and facing off against the eventual tournament champions, Granada, who was seeded #4 and proved to be the best 13-8 team in the state. Although Eads had Granada right where they wanted them in the District 2 quarterfinals on Tuesday in La Junta, the Bobcats found a way to slip back in the game and clipped Eads’ wings at the very end, 50-47.

It was a disappointing blow for the Eagles who have the capability to play with any team on a given night. But, due to their strength of schedule and the fact they have beaten quite a few top teams, the Eagles have advanced to the 1A Regional bracket seeded #15 out of the 32 teams in the state that saw their seasons extended at least one more week.

Head coach Weston Meardon said of the quarterfinal game and District 2 tournament in general, “I want to congratulate all the teams who got to continue to play after Tuesday in our district. There were some exciting games played Thursday and Saturday and they were fun to watch. I would have much rather have been playing those days obviously and felt like we could/should have been there competing for a district title.”

Eads will travel to Denver to the host site for #2 ranked Denver Jewish Day. Because Saturday is the Sabbath for the host school, this Regional Tournament will play earlier than the others on Thursday and Friday. Eads (#15, 10-10) will take on La Veta (#18, 14-8) in the first round on Thursday. If they win, they advance to play the winner of Denver Jewish Day (#2, 17-3) and Hi-Plains (#31, 7-12). Losers will see their seasons end.

Meardon is excited about the prospect the bracket presents for his team, “We are looking forward to another opportunity to play and extend our season another couple of weeks against the best competition in 1A. I hope we can go up there and compete to the level we know we can and come away with two wins.”

The winner in that region joins the winner from the other seven regions at the 1A Colorado State Tournament on March 9, 10, 11.

On Tuesday in La Junta, the Eagles fell behind Granada in the first period as the Bobcats came out hot with big man John Hainer dominating the inside hitting for 3 buckets, and shooting guard Jonus Guevera who hit a three ball with :38 second to go in the first to give Granada a 15-8 lead. Only Eads senior Connor Wollert was able to do much against the Granada defense as the versatile strong forward hit for six counters in the first.

Eads settled into the game in the second period and played exceptionally well as Stockton Mitchek hit a floater and then Case Nelson added a triple to get the Eagles to within four, 19-15, late in the period. Hainer then missed a couple of putts and Mitchek took advantage from downtown hitting a buzzer-beater and getting Eads within a single point, 19-18, at the intermission.

As Granada continued to beat up on top Eads scorer Porter Spady, Wollert continued to push the envelope for Eads grabbing a beautiful layup, and then finally tying up the game 27-27 when he dropped a triple with 1:25 left in the third period.

Hainer then answered getting the lead back, 29-27. Seconds later, however, Hainer fouled Mitchek who hit both freebies tying the game for the second time in less than a minute, 29-29, with :25 seconds left in the third period.

Wollert then brought the Eads loyal to their feet hitting a three-pointer at the buzzer to go into the fourth and final period with a 32-29 lead.

Wollert continued to put pressure on the Bobcats as on Eads’ first possession in the fourth the senior hit yet another triple getting Eads the 35-29 lead. The Bobcats were then stunned as Nelson found himself on the line hitting two freebies, and then a quiet Brentley Lening stripped the nets for his only three of the tournament making the score 40-29 in favor of the Eagles. It looked as though Eads had pushed hard enough to grab the win as for the next three minutes they held the 10 point lead as the teams exchanged buckets.

With just over four minutes left, Eads had a 45-33 advantage after Wollert, then Spady, each drove the lane for successful buckets.

But with 2:30 left in the contest the tide shifted. Eads missed 3-of-4 freebies from the line. Then Eads shot themselves out of the game taking two unnecessary shots instead of holding onto the ball and making Granada either foul or getting a sure-make shot. Slowly but surely, with each missed shot and then a couple of turnovers the Bobcats came roaring back.

Literally within 30 seconds they had dwindled the lead to one, 47-46, after a Brandon Gonzales long dagger at the top of the key with 1:50 remaining.

After that it was anyone’s game and Eads had their opportunities including a shot by Wollert that rolled around, and rolled around again, and then came out that would have given Eads a one-point lead with 11 seconds to go.

With Granada in charge and Eads trailing 48-47, the Eagles were forced to foul Hainer who dropped both coins into the bank leaving the final score at 50-47.

Granada dominated in the rebounding department with 36 boards compared to Eads’ 29 rebounds. They also shot much better than the Eagles hitting at a 47% FG average while Eads was down at 37%. The Eagles had 13 turnovers to Granada’s 16 turnovers.

Granada was led by Hainer with 18 points, including going a perfect 4-for-4 from the charity line, 5 rebounds, and 4 blocks.

Guevara also had a strong game with 15 points, including one triple, 8 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 steals.

Maddox Coleman was in double figures with 10 points, pulled down 9 boards and added 4 assists.

Gonzales hit for 5 points, including that dagger triple that turned the game around, and 6 rebounds.

The Eagles were led by Wollert who had perhaps his finest game of the season pouring in 19 points, and adding 7 rebounds and 2 steals.

Spady had 11 points, 8 rebounds, 6 assists and 2 steals. Mitchek added 9 points.

Nelson battled for 5 points and 6 boards, while Lening added a three-ball, 5 rebounds, and 4 assists.

Granada will host their regional tournament on Friday and Saturday, March 3 and 4. They are seeded #6 overall and will take on Sangre de Cristo (#27, 11-10) in the first round. On the other side of the bracket playing in Granada are Briggsdale (#11, 14-6) taking on Idalia (#22, 11-10).

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