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Healy steals, scores to lead Cougars to 57-55 victory in OT against Cleveland

James Healy scored 18 points Friday including a vital layup in OT to lead the Cibola High School Cougars to a 57-55 win over the Cleveland High School Storm. The victory gives Cibola a chance to face Volcano Vista High School in a one-game playoff tomorrow (Feb. 21) to determine the 1-5A District State Champion. This game was tied at 50 at the end of the fourth quarter when Cleveland Storm Kyle Quintana shot a 16-footer that rattled around the rim and fell in.

In the OT period Quintana missed a layup but Storm Desmond Branch grabbed the rebound and scored. Quintana was fouled by a Cougar defender and hit one of two free throws to give the Storm a 53-50 lead. A Cibola layup was too high off of the glass but Devon Vallejos grabbed the rebound and put the ball in the hoop for the Cougars. Jason Jackson answered back with a basket for the Storm to give Cleveland a 55-52 lead. Cibola's Croix Sedillo marched to the free throw line. He was six-for-six from the charity stripe. This time he converted one of his two attempts.

The Cougars set a double screen for Healy but he missed the three-point shot attempt. His teammate Marcus Tenorio grabbed the rebound and was fouled. He converted one of two free throws to give Cleveland a one-point lead. Cleveland spread their offense across the floor and passed the ball from player to player. Healy anticipated one of the passes, and sprinted to intercept it before the pass could be completed. Healy dribbled to the basket and layed the ball in before the Storm players could react. His basket put the Cougars up 56-55. Quintana missed a 17-footer as he tried to pull up and shoot for the game winner for the Storm. Sedillo was fouled and he converted one of two free throws for the final score 57-55. With 2.3 seconds left in the game Jackson tried to score with a three-point shot but the ball bounced off of the back iron.

In the first half action that led up to the tied score at the end of regulation time, Cibola's John Thompson blocked a jump shot by Jackson. Then Thompson fouled Jackson on another shot attempt and the Storm player hit both free throws. Quintana scored off of the glass for the Storm and Tyrell Hollins put in a left-handed finger roll for Cleveland. Tenorio scored for Cibola and Jackson scored for Cleveland. Jerome Gabryszewski was called for a blocking foul on Tenorio who converted both free throws for Cibola.

Josh Melendez used a screen from one of his teammates to hit a jump shot and give Cleveland a 12-11 lead at the end of the first quarter. In the second quarter Jackson scored with a jump shot for Cleveland. Devon Vallejos, the district's leading rebounder, grabbed an offensive rebound and put the ball into the bucket for Cibola. Jackson scored twice in a row. One of his scoring buckets was on a back door cut to the basket. The Storm fouled Sedillo who hit both free throws. Sedillo grabbed a rebound and threw the ball to Healy whose high arcing shot swished through the net for three points. Healy's long shot helped Cibola tie the score at 20.

With the score knotted at 22, Cleveland's Quintana stole a Cibola pass but in his haste to dribble to the basket he turned the ball over. The Storm's Desmond Branch blocked a Cougar's shot and Vallegos scored to put Cibola ahead for the first time in the game 24-22. Cleveland's Jackson was fouled. He hit one of two free throws for his eleventh point of the game. Sedillo calmly dropped in two more free throws as the Cougars were shooting 80 percent from the charity stripe.

Late in the second half Sedillo was called for a reach in foul. But on the next play Jackson stole a pass and scored for Cleveland. Cibola missed a 10-foot floater and Quintana hit a three-footer for Cleveland to put the Storm back up 27-26. But Healy hit a triple for Cibola to put the Cougars ahead 29-27 at the half. Coach Ray Rodriguez' Cougars came into the game with an overall record of 18-4. They were 4-1 in 1-5A District play.

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