BUHLER — If the first quarter of Tuesday night’s game between Buhler and El Dorado was going to be any indication, the fourth quarter was going to feature a running clock.

The Crusaders jumped out to an 18-2 lead to start the game. But the Wildcats clawed their way back into the game, cutting the deficit to five points late in the fourth, but Buhler closed the game on a 6-0 run to escape with a 51-40 win inside Jim Baker Fieldhouse.

Buhler, ranked eighth in Class 4A and currently sitting in fifth place in 4A Sub-State West, has now swept the season series with El Dorado (5-15, 1-9 AVCTL DIII), but neither game was a Buhler blowout.

"El Dorado is very scrappy and they’re well-coached," Buhler coach Ryan Swanson said. "I thought we jumped out really well, but then we took our foot off the gas. You can’t do that against anybody, especially this time of the year when every team is fighting for playoff seeding."

El Dorado coach Jordan Regehr knows his team cannot afford to fall behind 16 points to start games, but was proud of the way his team responded.

"We could have easily folded and lost by 30," Regehr said. "This is the kind of game we needed going into sub-state."

Buhler led by 14 after one, but El Dorado opened the second quarter on a 5-0 run before Max Alexander responded with a 3.

With under 30 seconds left until halftime, Isaac LeShore got out in transition and hit a fast-break layup to give Buhler a 30-15 lead at halftime.

LeShore was one of four Buhler seniors recognized Tuesday night for senior night.

"All of the seniors play the way you’re supposed to play," Swanson said. "They’re tough, they’re hard-nosed, and they’re as good of teammates as I’ve ever coached. It will be tough replacing their leadership and their presence in the locker room."

El Dorado began to chip away at the double-digit lead, and a Connor Clausing 3-pointer made it a 37-27 game with 1:50 left in the third. However, the Crusaders scored the final four points of the quarter to take a 14-point lead into the fourth.

Jaydon Sundgren knocked down a 3-pointer with 2:58 remaining to make it a 45-40 ball game, but that was as close as El Dorado would get the rest of the way.

"I give El Dorado a lot of credit for hanging in there and making it a tough game," Swanson said.

Buhler hosts Circle on Thursday. Swanson wants to see his team pick up a confidence-boosting win heading into sub-state.

"We need to get a win for seeding purposes, but also to get our mojo back," Swanson said.

El Dorado awaits word on its sub-state destination, but the Wildcats are locked into a road game.

"Now it counts," Regehr said. "Survive and advance, or lose and go home."