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Long postseason drought ends as Cimarron girls face Arbor View

The banners in Cimarron-Memorial’s gymnasium don’t lie.

They don’t obscure the truth that the Spartans’ girls basketball team hasn’t played in a postseason game since 2002.

Every day, they served as motivation to the team’s seven seniors. It made the team work harder and brought the players closer together.

And tonight, the 11-year drought will end when the Spartans (12-14) visit Northwest League champion Arbor View (19-5) in a Division I Sunset Region quarterfinal.

“The seniors all took it upon themselves to break the streak,” second-year coach Greg Holloway said. “This group of seniors wanted to be the group to end it.

“Winning has been a good thing, but it came from us spending a lot of time in the offseason building chemistry. This is one of the closest-knit teams, one of the drama-free teams. It’s a group of girls who really do play for each other. I really believe they were sent to me, and I was sent to them. This has been a blessing.”

Cimarron won two of its final three league games, including completing a season series sweep of Legacy, to secure its spot.

The Spartans don’t have a marquee player, but they have a solid core of interchangeable parts. No one cares who gets the glory as long as the team plays well.

“We’re like a family, the whole team,” senior forward Kiana Carter said. “We’re a lot more together. We’ve grown a lot, every game.”

Carter and forward Chalon Henderson are four-year varsity players. The Spartans also benefited when senior guard Emily Cox, a part of Foothill’s Sunrise Region championship team last year, transferred to Cimarron.

The biggest help, though, has been an improved defense. The Spartans are 10-1 when holding the opponent to 40 or fewer points.

“We recognized who we are,” Holloway said. “We’re a defensive team, and we feel if we play defense every night that we have a chance. We all bought into the same concept.”

Arbor View, which qualified for the playoffs for the first time, was a 64-55 overtime winner when the teams met Dec. 11 at Arbor View.

“Our focus can be a little bit better,” Holloway said. “We’ve had a chance to play a full regular season now, and I think our game experience will help.”

The winner advances to the semifinals Thursday at Durango. The title game is at 5 p.m. Friday at Durango.

“It’s the same game, nothing changes,” Henderson said. “We just need to come out strong and watch our foul trouble.”

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