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After three close calls with the state tournament that had died on the regional vine, even Jayton coach Ryan Bleiker had begun to wonder if he would ever guide the Jaybirds to the final four.
But somehow, someway, this weekend in Abilene, he saw it coming — a two-game regional sweep with consecutive wins over Eden (58-25) and Irion County (47-32) to send Jayton to its first-ever state tournament in boys basketball.
Something in the Jaybirds’ demeanor told Bleiker that his stretch of losing three regional semifinals in four years was over.
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The Jayton Jaybirds boys basketball team is heading 332 miles south to the state tournament for the first time in school history.
Some of coach Ryan Bleiker’s final instructions to his squad in the locker room before the game were: “Never been done before. Never been done. There’s not many things in Jayton you can say has never been done before. This is one of them.”
The Jaybirds punched their ticket to San Antonio with a 47-32 win over Mertzon Irion County on Saturday afternoon at Abilene Christian University’s Moody Coliseum.
Perhaps it was a case of first-round nerves for Cisco, or perhaps Coahoma was simply better than some in the Big Country basketball community believed.
Either way, the heavily favored Loboes (28-3) had to overcome a sluggish start before taking control of Tuesday’s 3A bi-district matchup at ACU’s Moody Coliseum, and eventually dominating it in a 68-39 win.
Gibson Hearne tossed in 27 points and Izzy Adame added 11 more to lift Cisco, which advances to face Childress in the area round.
The Loboes trailed twice in the early going, and as late as the 2:00 mark in the first quarter when a Bryson Cline layup gave the Bulldogs an 11-10 edge. From that moment forward, however, Cisco’s full-court defensive pressure was a game changer, leading to 17-0 run which spanned to the 5:12 mark of the second quarter.