PUEBLO — Down two starters and 16 points heading into the fourth quarter, Pueblo South boys basketball wasn’t ready to call it quits. The only problem for the Colts was there wasn’t enough time to climb all the way back from their deficit.
Class 4A No. 6 Pueblo Central withstood a hot start from South guard Ray Aragon and allowed just 13 combined points in the second and third quarters to get the 56-50. For a while, it seemed that the Wildcats (7-1 overall, 3-0 South-Central League) had figured the Colts out, especially with Tarrance and Maurice Austin not in the lineup.
Aragon fired off two quick 3-pointers and Dezmon Floyd added one of his own to put the Colts up early. But as the Wildcats settled down, so did the Colts’ scoring opportunities.
“We know the kid can shoot the ball,” Central coach Brad Ranson said. “We just tried to play straight up. Play on the line and don't let them penetrate. Unfortunately they hit a couple of early shots. After that he settled down and they couldn't hit a shot for a while."
That stretch was much of the second and third quarters. The Colts (6-1, 3-1) made just two field goals in the second quarter.
"I think we went 0-for-8 (shooting) for a bit there," South coach Shannan Lane said.
Making matters worse for South was how ineffective Kadyn Betts had been on the offensive side of the ball for the first two quarters. He had just two points at halftime as Jon Beltran was the one keeping pace with Aragon, sinking three 3-pointers and scoring all 11 of his points in the first half.
Betts didn't need the offensive numbers as long as the Wildcats were effective defensively.
"When we're not hitting shots, we know we have to play good defense," he said. "We pride ourselves on defense. Every practice we're running the shell drill and we're doing what we can do to make our defense the best."
Betts got going after halftime, scoring eight of his 11 in the third quarter. That was right about the time the Colts started warming back up. Aragon heated back up, scoring 17 of his game-high 26 points in the fourth quarter alone. Before that point, the Colts hadn't scored more than 12 in a single quarter.
Even without the Austin brothers, the Colts showed their desire to keep fighting, a trait that showed just how much they grew up on a cold Friday night.
"They grew up big time," Lane said. "This team could have rolled over when we were down big. All they needed was a little confidence. I'm learning too as this team grows. We were very structured in that first quarter and it showed. When we struggled and got down we could've done into halftime and shut down. But they fought."
And to Central's credit, they showed poise as its lead continued to shrink. Adonis Reynolds was crucial at the free throw line, going 5-for-6 to keep the game out of South's reach.
"We handled it," Ranson said. "Adonis made his free throws. We have to make our free throws. I don't know what we were but Kyle (Bigley) missed four. And we had way too many turnovers."
But they got the win which is what really mattered. When South is back at full strength, it should only make an already competitive South-Central League a lot more fun to watch.