By RICK YEARICK and EARL WATT
• Daily Leader
MEADE — Five three pointers in the third quarter gave the Buffaloes a chance to upset the Mustangs Tuesday night.
After trailing by as many as 22, the Buffaloes trimmed the lead down to three with 2:52 to play.
But the Mustangs were able to hold on late for a 57-50 win in one of the longest running rivalries in Southwest Kansas.
Jacob Flores was the hero of the night for the Mustangs, scoring 19 points and getting a crucial rebound late to seal the victory.
Meade attempted to make up ground late by fouling, and Flores went to the line in a three-point game to shoot two free throws. He missed them both but charged the lane to rebound the second miss and get a put-back bucket to give the Mustangs a five-point lead.
Heights was able to hold off the Mustangs in the final seconds for the win.
The Mustangs jumped out early while the Buffaloes struggled to find their range.
Heights were able to control the ball in the first half and hit three three-pointers in the first quarter.
Meade tried to regroup after falling behind 12-1 by taking a time out with 3:24 to play in the first quarter.
But the Mustangs were able to build on the lead, finishing the rest of the quarter on a 7-4 for a 19-5 lead.
Wes Winfrey found his range, connecting on four three pointers in the game, two in the first quarter, to put the pressure on the Buffaloes.
Flores helped Heights build on the lead by scoring 10 of his 19 points in the second quarter. Both teams started to hit baskets, but the Mustangs were relentless, controlling the boards and running a transition game that led to a 39-20 halftime lead.
But the Buffaloes weren’t going to give in to their rivals with a bad half. Meade stormed out of the locker room with an aerial assault from downtown. The Buffaloes connected on five three-pointers to cut into the Mustang lead. Meade trimmed the Mustangs advantage to 50-37, which still seemed to be a comfortable lead.
The Mustangs had opportunities in the third, driving to the bucket for lay-ups, but the two-footers wouldn’t fall, and the Buffaloes took advantage.
Meade cut the lead to 10 on the first possession of the fourth quarter and used the next five minutes to whittle away at the Mustang lead.
With 3:36 to play and the Mustangs had a seven-point lead when Meade’s Kellan Hernandez was fouled on a three-point attempt. Hernandez hit the first two shots, missed the third, but the Buffaloes rebounded, kicked it out to Hernandez, and he hit the two-point bucket to cut the lead to three, 52-49.
Hernandez later attempted to tie the game with a three-point shot, but Cory Ryan blocked it. Ryan had two critical blocks in the fourth quarter to preserve the Mustang lead.
Flores was then able to rebound his missed free throws for the put-back to give the Mustangs a five-point lead, and the Mustangs were able to hold on for the 57-50 win.
Flores led the Mustangs with 19 points, Winfrey added 14, Oscar Sigala had 12, and Ryan scored six.
Hernandez led the Buffaloes with 23 points including five three pointers.
Heights (11-3) will travel to Elkhart Friday before returning to the Corral in a key league battle against Leoti Wednesday.