Widefield inside game overwhelms Skyview in 64-51 boys playoff victory

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Photo - Widefield Gladiators sophomore Randall Days (30) dives for a loose ball against Skyview Wolverines junior Pete Medina (14) in the third quarter in the second round of the CHSAA 4A boys' basketball playoffs on Saturday, February 24, 2018 at Widefield High School. Photo by Isaiah J. Downing
Widefield Gladiators sophomore Randall Days (30) dives for a loose ball against Skyview Wolverines junior Pete Medina (14) in the third quarter in the second round of the CHSAA 4A boys' basketball playoffs on Saturday, February 24, 2018 at Widefield High School. Photo by Isaiah J. Downing

Widefield built an early 11-point lead only to see it nearly dissolve by halftime.

The Gladiators did a much better job the second time around.

Tre Pierre scored 12 of his game-high 25 points in a momentum-turning third quarter - including six straight in a half-opening 11-0 run - and T.J. Davis added 14 as No. 10 Widefield turned away No. 42 Skyview, 64-51 Saturday to advance to the round of 16 in the 4A boys' playoffs.

"We didn't want it to end this way, not tonight," said Pierre, looking back on his team's halftime discussion. "We knew we had to come out strong in the second half. We knew what we needed to do."

The big start to the half turned a 26-24 lead into a 13-point bulge with 4:37 left in the third quarter. Then Widefield's defense kept the Wolverines (17-8) from getting any closer.

Pierre and Davis, who stand 6-foot-5 and 6-3, respectively, dominated down low as the Gladiators' inside game took advantage of an undersized Skyview squad.

"We were trying to compact the paint and let them take jump shots," said Skyview senior Brandon Gilley, who scored a team-high 20 points. "It didn't fall that way. They deserve the credit. They made their shots and we couldn't make ours."

Skyview missed its first nine shots of the game until Gilley's 3-pointer from the right side ended an 11-0 run that consumed 5 minutes, 37 seconds. Then the Wolverines gradually cut into Widefield's lead, making it a two-point game by halftime.

Unfortunately for the Wolverines, the start of the second half sounded a familiar tune as they couldn't find the basket. A Tomas Lopez free throw with 4:20 left in the third quarter ended Widefield's second 11-0 run, then Isaac Valdez hit his team's first outside shot of the half, a 3-pointer not quite one minute later.

This time, Widefield prevented a second rally.

"We stepped up our defense, and that was the difference," said Widefield's 21st-year coach Mark Munoz, who will retire after the season. "We'd like to keep this thing going as long as we can."

The Gladiators travel to Longmont on Tuesday to face No. 7 Silver Creek (20-4).