BOULDER — Mountain Vista took another step this season in building a strong foundation for its boys basketball program.
The Golden Eagles won their first 19 games, climbed to the state's No. 2 ranking and were one of the last four Class 5A teams to still be playing last week.
Mountain Vista finished the season with a 23-3 record following a 74-59 semifinal loss to eventual state champion Eaglecrest on March 15 at the Coors Events Center.
“The kids fought to the end,” Mountain Vista coach Bob Wood said. “Each year we've gone from (Sweet) 16 to (Great) Eight to the Final Four. We'll see what happens next year. We'll have a good squad next year. We lose a lot of valuable guys. We have some good players coming back. It's hard to think about next year right now.”
The Golden Eagles' leading scorer, junior Jake Pemberton, who averaged 17.5 points a game, returns along with junior Greg Smith, who was the team's second-leading rebounder.
However, among the seniors who won't be back are Elijah Valdez, who scored at a 17.2 clip, and Mitch Carter, who contributed 11.8 points and 8.9 rebounds per game.
“It was a great group of seniors.” Wood said. “They just never quit. They played hard and deserved everything and maybe some more because they really did a good job as far as being in the gym and doing what we asked them to do and being good teammates.
“We were trying to get to the Final Four and that's an experience in itself. I didn't feel we played one of our better games, but that's a credit to Eaglecrest because they played real good defense, turned us over and got a lot more easy baskets than we did.”
Pemberton scored 17 points against the Raptors, Valdez added 16 and Carter pulled down 11 rebounds for Mountain Vista, which shot 32.8 percent for the game.
“We squeezed out two games in the playoffs just to get to the Final Four,” Wood said of a 59-57 win over Lincoln and a 78-76 double overtime victory over Cherokee Trail. “We were hoping to get another close one and win it at the end.”