LOVELAND – Given that his team knocked down only two field goals in the entire second half Friday night, Sanford coach Brice Crowther was understandably relieved with the outcome of the Class 2A boys basketball state semifinal.

The Mustangs created a nice cushion with a big first quarter, and added some to that by halftime. That made the difference, as No. 7 Sanford struggled to score in the second half before finally putting No. 3 Limon away at the free-throw line for a 40-27 victory at Budweiser Events Center.

“It was everything because of those two field goals in the second half,” Crowther said of building an 18-5 lead after the first quarter. “We needed to have a little bit of a cushion. It bought us some time.”

Sanford (18-8) advances to its second consecutive 2A championship game, where the Mustangs will take on No. 4 Wray on Saturday night.

The Mustangs, who have won eight state titles, lost to Yuma last March. Sanford started just 3-7 this winter before turning the season around.

“It’s a great group of kids that some have been there, some haven’t, but they all bought in,” Crowther said. “They did the things we asked them to.”

Senior McCray Larsen had a big second half for Sanford, hitting both of his team’s field goals. He finished with 11 points, as did Cash Caldon and Justin McCarroll.

The Mustangs scored only two points in the third quarter, and Limon (22-4) pulled to within seven points of the lead in the fourth quarter before having to foul down the stretch. Sanford was 7-of-8 from the free-throw line in the closing minutes.

The two teams had also met in the state semis last March, with Sanford pulling out a 44-40 victory.

“We struggled that second half,” Crowther said. “We played them the same exact game last year, we knew they weren’t going to quit. We knew they had it in them.

“Two field goals is never good, but our boys defensively hung in there and made it tough on Limon. It was enough.”

Limon struggled on the offensive end in the first half, and finished with a season-low in points. Sanford had limited No. 2 Simla to just 33 points in the Great 8.

(4) Wray 55, (9) Evangelical Christian Academy 34

Rafael Trejo and AB Ruiz started fast, and their Wray teammates fed off that energy.

The Eagles jumped out to a 10-point lead after the first quarter behind its junior tandem and never looked back. Trejo and Ruiz combined to score 37 points as No. 4 Wray downed No. 9 Evangelical Christian 55-34 on Friday night.

Wray (20-6) advances to Saturday’s championship game against Sanford. The Eagles are looking for their second title in three years.

Trejo led the way for the Eagles with 22 points. Wray was flying all over the court, whether it was to force a turnover or save a loose ball. Even after building a 14-point lead at halftime, the team didn’t take its foot off the gas.

Evangelical Christian (21-4) had upset No. 1 Crowley County on Thursday in the Great 8, but the shots just weren’t falling in the semifinals. Senior Jared Guest led the Eagles with 12 points.