Fans of the Kanab Cowboys basketball team were in for a long 32 minutes of mistake-prone play against South Sevier in their 73-51 loss to the undefeated Rams in the championship game of the Cowboy Classic basketball tournament last Saturday night.

With a size advantage topped by 6’8” senior center McKay Blackburn, and 6’4” senior guard Dillon Bishoff, who was voted MVP of the tournament, the Rams dominated the game from start to finish.

Bishoff and Blackburn had 16 and 19 points respectively. The most spectacular play of the night came on an alley-oop dunk by Bishoff from Orion Wilson’s pass behind 6’5” forward Rhees Jackson of the Cowboys. Jackson and 6’3” Craig Brinkerhoff led the Cowboys with 14 points apiece, in a game dominated by the big men on the court.

Brinkerhoff began the scoring by hitting a three-pointer from the corner. Two quick turnovers by the Cowboys led to only two points by the Rams, who blew several shots in succession on the second turnover. Jackson came back to hit a three, giving Kanab their only lead of the night. Sloppy passing, poor ball-handling and timid play plagued the Cowboys in the first quarter that ended with them trailing the Rams 23-13.

The turnovers got worse in the second quarter when the Rams opened with a half-court press, exacerbating the Cowboys struggles with ball control.

“Take it to the basket, don’t pass it,” Coach Ben Luce urged his players during a break. But with four minutes left in the second quarter, the Cowboys were down by 20 points at 35-15. The score at halftime was 41-23.

The bright spot for Kanab’s fans came from an entertaining and tightly-choreographed performance by the Lariettes at halftime, which provided them with a rare opportunity to applaud.

The Cowboys came out to start the second half more focused and energetic with better passing, quicker shot-taking, aggressive play-making and more effort defensively. Jackson and Jordan Jones hit successive three-pointers and with 3:24 left in the third quarter, the score closed to 43-33. That was as close as it would get for the remainder of the game. By the end of the third quarter, the score was 52-37.

With three minutes left in the game, Jackson left the game with a nosebleed and did not return.

On the other side, Blackburn worsened an ankle injury suffered earlier after stuffing a rebound and left the game at which time subs for both sides finished the game.

When asked after the game about the tentative performance of the Cowboys, Coach Luce said, “We knew we were going against the top-ranked, undefeated South Sevier Rams and I think we were a little intimidated, maybe apprehensive or overly respectful of this confrontation. It probably affected our focus and execution.”

South Sevier’s JV won the junior varsity championship, prompting Luce to quip that this year’s tournament should be named the “Ram Classic.”

In the consolation game held earlier, the Enterprise Wolves beat the North Sevier Wolves by a score of 70-61 in an obvious wolf-fight. Enterprise was up by only one point at the end of the third quarter, thanks to four three-pointers by Derrick Christensen of North Sevier. Enterprise guard Kyle West scored 10 of his game-high 32 points in the fourth quarter to put the game away for the E-wolves.

The Cowboy Classic All-Tournament Team, voted by the participating coaches and fans, was made up of Kyle West of Enterprise, Derrick Christensen of North Sevier, Rhees Jackson and Craig Brinkerhoff of Kanab, and Orion Wilson and MVP Dillon Bishoff of South Sevier.

Kanab made it to the championship game by beating North Sevier 80-78 in overtime Friday night. Brinkerhoff knocked down 29 points and Jackson tallied 28 points and 20 rebounds to pace the Cowboy victory.

Dillon Bishoff poured in 32 points for South Sevier as the No. 1 team in 2A picked up a 67-58 victory over No. 3 Enterprise Friday night. The Rams are now 10-0, and earlier in the week they beat No. 2 Waterford.