The Cimarron Lady Jays Basketball team advanced to the championship match of the Cimarron Invitational with a 51-43 win over the South Gray Lady Rebels Friday night.

The Jays jumped out early to an 8-0 lead in the first half, leading by as much as 15 at one point in the half. They led 31-21 at halftime.

“The first half we played very well,” Cimarron head coach David Ediger said. “We took care of the ball, we had our pressure working, we scored the basketball.”

South Gray head coach Paul Clancy said his team fell behind in part due to their youth.

“That’s a quality team we played,” Clancy said. “I mean they’re seniors on that team, good juniors and I mean they’ve got big-game experience. We’ve got girls that this is their first big-game experience.”

Despite trailing by 10 at halftime, the Rebels fought their way back into the game in the third, outscoring the Jays 12-5 in the quarter and at one juncture narrowing the lead to a single point.

“They (came) out a little rattled but we settled down, we fought back,” Clancy said. “Down 15, come back to within one. We missed a ton of free throws. If we could have made free throws we could have won that ballgame.”

In the second half, Ediger said the major difference the Rebels made wasn’t a major difference at all.

“They packed their zone in a little bit more and we just didn’t get under the basket like we needed to,” Ediger said. “And we didn’t play very good defense. I put us in a very simple man-defense to pack the lane because they were hurting us inside and we weren’t doing it. We were still running around the perimeter chasing people, even our post one-on-one.”

South Gray had a size advantage, Ediger said, which also helped the Rebels make a comeback. Once they got some help inside, he said things started to go the way the Lady Jays wanted to again.

Cimarron eventually pulled away in the fourth quarter to end the game with a 51-43 win.

“I wasn’t happy with failure just to do a simple defense right out of timeout, so that part I wasn’t happy with, but the part where we kept winning and kept playing, I was very pleased with that," Ediger said.

With the win, Cimarron will play rival Meade Saturday afternoon in the championship game of the Cimarron Invitational.