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6A boys basketball playoffs: Syracuse falls to Cyprus as Meza scores 31 points

By Patrick Carr - Prep Sports Reporter | Feb 28, 2023
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Syracuse High's Kaden Ericksen drives while guarded by Cyprus' Arou Ayuen during the 6A boys basketball state quarterfinals at Weber State's Dee Events Center on Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2023.
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Syracuse High's Brevin Hamblin drives to the basket against Cyprus' Arou Ayuen during the 6A boys basketball state quarterfinals at Weber State's Dee Events Center on Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2023.
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Syracuse High's Carter Semrow, left, drives while defended by Cyprus' Quentin Meza during the 6A boys basketball state quarterfinals at Weber State's Dee Events Center on Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2023.

For three quarters of Tuesday’s 6A boys basketball state quarterfinal, Syracuse held an explosive Cyprus team in check, played the Pirates straight up and at times looked poised to even take a big lead.

No matter how much the No. 7 Titans tried to contain Cyprus point guard Quentin Meza and how well they did, he eventually and critically broke through.

Meza scored 18 of his game-high 31 points in the fourth quarter on a variety of tough drives, floaters, jumpers and 3-pointers, taking over the game and willing the No. 2 Pirates to a 58-56 win that ended the Titans’ season at Weber State’s Dee Events Center.

Syracuse (15-8) leading scorer Kaden Ericksen fouled out with 4:44 left in the game but, at that point, the Pirates’ ship appeared to be sailing to the semifinals anyway.

“I’m grateful that we had a good season. I’m grateful for my coaches and my teammates, but it hurts a little more because I feel like we really had it, we could’ve won that game and advanced,” Ericksen said.

Meza made a shot high off the glass at the shot clock buzzer to put Syracuse down 44-42 early in the fourth quarter.

Syracuse’s Kane King traveled on the next possession and Meza jogged right down, pulled up and bounced in a deep 3-pointer for a 47-42 lead.

Ericksen missed two free throws the next trip down for Syracuse, then fouled out on a Meza drive immediately afterward. Ericksen finished with 17 points on 7-of-9 shooting in just 22 minutes of game time.

Another deep Meza 3 made it 52-45 for Cyprus (23-4) and, it appeared, game over. Brevin Hamblin made two free throws, Syracuse got a stop and then Carter Semrow hit a 3 to cut the lead to 52-50.

Meza responded with a tough jumper the next trip down, followed by a steal and a runout for a 56-50 lead.

“We had chances but I didn’t feel like we played well in areas that that I felt like we could have,” Syracuse coach Mike Russell said. “We weren’t good at the line, I felt like some of our turnovers were bad decisions, little things like that.”

Both teams exchanged runs in the first half, with Ericksen and Meza trading buckets as Syracuse led 29-28 at halftime after three lead changes and two ties in the second quarter alone.

Ericksen had 13 of his 17 points in the first half and Meza had 11 at halftime. Syracuse led by as much as 36-30 in the third quarter, then went cold on offense.

Simultaneously, Meza heated up. He shot 11 of 17 from the field, 4 of 8 from 3-point range and the Pirates overall shot 19 of 35 (54.3%).

Hamblin finished with a double-double of 13 points and 14 rebounds; Semrow had nine points for Syracuse.

The Titans won the rebounding battle 27-20 (11-2 on offensive boards), but shot 9 of 19 at the free-throw line in the game and shot 8 of 22 from the field in the second half (20 of 44 overall).

“Their leading scorer was 31 (points), their next closest guy had like seven. It was just about locking (Meza) up and we missed 10 free throws and we lost by two,” Ericksen said. “We hit those free throws, we win that game. We contain him, we win that game. Those are both things that we could’ve done better, definitely.”

Ericksen is one of six seniors on the team who will depart. Russell acknowledged the younger classes coming up through the Syracuse basketball program have big shoes to fill next season, but they had good role models in the six-senior class.

Connect with reporter Patrick Carr via email at pcarr@standard.net, Twitter @patrickcarr_ and Instagram @standardexaminersports.


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