The Coeneo/Merrick Construction team gave Jivaro Headhunters all it could handle, leading virtually the entire game last Wednesday, before falling 55-50 in the Outlaw League championship contest at the Community Campus gym. Leading Coeneo were Alberto Vazquez (kneeling, center, 16 points), Jesus Villanueva (standing, second from right, 17 points and 13 rebounds) and Ricardo “Papas” Paredes (kneeling, right, 10 points, 11 boards, 4 assists). Express photo by Roland Lane
Patience proved to be a virtue for a veteran Jivaro Headhunters squad last Wednesday night in the championship game of the Blaine County Recreation District men’s basketball league tournament at Hailey’s Community Campus gym.
Never leading until less than three minutes remained, top-seeded Jivaro (15-1) picked up its running game down the homestretch and won its third consecutive Outlaw League championship 55-50 over the No. 5-seeded Coeneo/Merrick Construction team (11-7).
Leading Jivaro in its comeback from deficits that reached 12 points in the first half to 10 points with 11:32 left in the game were Jeff Stedman (17 points, 9 rebounds, 2 steals, 3 assists), Buddy Peterson (13 points, 8 boards) and Darryl Tullis (10 points, 4 rebounds).
Veteran forward Erik Lisk (6 points, 2 rebounds) was the Jivaro spark on defense—inspiring his teammates to hold Coeneo without a field goal in the final seven minutes and to limit the upset-minded Merrick Construction men to just 13 points in the second half.
| Coeneo team.
Coeneo/Merrick, led by league veteran Jesus Villanueva (17 points, 13 rebounds) and outside shooter Alberto Vazquez (16 points, four 3-pointers), shot a high percentage, building a 37-29 halftime lead. Villanueva scored 15 of Coeneo’s first 25 points, most from 17-foot range.
But Coeneo’s key player was Ricardo “Papas” Paredes, the 6-foot, 3-inch star who plays more like 6-6. Paredes was the tournament Most Valuable Player in 2011 when Jivaro kicked off its three-year winning streak with a 64-54 championship game triumph over Coeneo. Papas played every minute of Wednesday’s game.
Jivaro’s defense led by Lisk worked hard to make every Paredes shot a difficult one in the second half. The hard-working Coeneo team seemed to tire in the final 10 minutes. Coeneo made only 2 of 10 free throws after half. Paredes converted his final field goal on transition with fully 18:00 left.
A Tullis shot on a pass from point guard Eric Dobbie (3 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists) gave Jivaro its first lead at 51-50 with 2:42 left. Jivaro used its experience to work about two minutes off the clock, and Peterson and Stedman each went 2-for-2 at the line in the final 19 seconds to nail down the win.
Other Jivaro contributors included Mike Payne (2 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists), who played on the league’s first unbeaten team, Low Profile, 25 years ago; Ron Harrison (3 assists); and Mike Schlatter (4 points, 2 boards). Rounding out the 10-player squad were Dan Willett and Ben Sinnamon.
Coeneo, using only seven players, got contributions from Antonio “Tona” Hurtado (7 rebounds, 2 assists), Cano Martinez (2 points), “Rafa” (5 points, 2 steals) and Benjamin Romero (4 rebounds, 2 assists).
Jivaro, a 17-year-old league franchise appearing in the Outlaw League title game for the 12th time in 13 years, captured its fifth league title in six years—and eighth overall. The Headhunters boast an 87-11 league record over that six-year span, including 46-2 in last three years. Their threepeat matches the Jivaro 2001-to-2003 threepeat.
Wednesday’s title game was the lowest scoring finale over the last 14 years.
Perhaps the Most Valuable Players of their teams in the league over the past 14 seasons have been Tullis of Jivaro and Jesus Villanueva, who has played for a succession of teams dating back to La Mexicana to the current Coeneo group.
Here are the outcomes of the Outlaw League finals since 2000:
2013: Jivaro Headhunters 55-50 over Coeneo/Merrick Construction.
2012: Jivaro Headhunters 71-41 over Sturges Productions.
2011: Jivaro Headhunters (16-0) 64-54 over Coeneo.
2010: Growing Concern 63-62 over Jivaro Headhunters
2009: Jivaro Headhunters 73-68 over Rocky Mountain Hardware/Soundwave.
2008: Jivaro Headhunters (17-0) 72-54 over Sturges Productions.
2007: Sutton & Sons 68-63 over Growing Concern.
2006: Johnny G’s Subshack 68-48 over Jivaro Headhunters.
2005: Phoenix Bar & Grill (16-0) 72-58 over Jivaro Headhunters.
2004: Sturges Productions 66-59 over Jivaro Headhunters.
2003: Jivaro Headhunters 67-64 over Croy St. Exchange.
2002: Jivaro Headhunters 69-49 over Croy St./Sun Valley Brewing.
2001: Jivaro Headhunters 62-44 over Casino/Lefty’s.
2000: Sutton & Sons 66-52 over Sun Valley Brewing/Croy St.