By JASON EPP
• Leader & Times
Nate Johnsrud stepped to the free throw line with less than five seconds left in the fourth quarter with the Southwestern Heights Mustangs trailing by two. Johnsrud sunk both sending the game to overtime, where the Mustangs escaped with a 64-61 win over Cimarron.
“That was pretty impressive for a sophomore to be able to step up and do that,” Mustangs coach Nefro Saucedo said.
Cimarron looked to have the game in their possession again in overtime, scoring the first five points. But Heights scored the final 8 to win.
“We held together and trusted each other and went on a run of our own,” Saucedo said. “Rogelio Martinez got some clutch rebounds on missed free throws that we missed. Made just enough to win,”
Heights was just 8 of 22 at the free throw line. Cimarron was not any better, making only 6 of 19.
The game was closely contested throughout with Cimarron holding a slim 15-14 lead at the end of the first. Heights countered with a 14-11 advantage in the second to lead 28-26 at half.
The Mustangs made the lead three heading into the fourth (44-41), only to have Cimarron come back in the forth to take the lead late.
It was the second time in just four days that Heights had beaten Cimarron at Cimarron. Saturday’s game was by 15, but in the playoffs everything tightens up.
Clayton Chase led the Mustangs with 22 points on 9 of 14 shooting. Chase also grabbed 6 rebounds and had three blocks. Nate Johnsrud made 3 of 5 three-pointers and scored 13. Ben Johnsrud was 3 of 6 from beyond the arc and scored 11.
Trevor Lee was the team’s top rebounder with 10.
Heights (13-8) advances to the sub-state semifinals, which they will host tomorrow. The Mustangs will have a monumental task of facing top-ranked Scott City (13-1).