Valor coach takes team to `old stomping grounds'
DENVER — Ronnie DeGray will return to his old stomping grounds.
DeGray, Valor Christian's first-year boys coach who played two seasons of basketball at the University of Colorado, will guide the Eagles in a Class 4A semifinal state playoff game against Broomfield at CU's Coors Events Center at 4 p.m. March 15.
“I'm going home, going to my old stomping grounds. It's going to be fun,” DeGray said.
Valor (21-4) will be making its second straight trip to the Final Four.
Last season, Lewis-Palmer defeated the Eagles, 70-59, in the semis and DeGray will have Valor ready for its encore appearance in Boulder
“Broomfield plays really hard, they are well-coached and we will work on them all week, study film and maybe find a couple chinks in their armor and see what we can do,” DeGray said.
Valor started fast and held off Sand Creek, 54-46, on March 9 in a Class 4A Great 8 game at the Denver Coliseum to earn the ticket to Boulder.
The victory avenged a 76-61 loss to the Scorpions earlier this season.
Valor forged ahead 22-6 late in the first quarter and led 28-17 at halftime as Sand Creek made only one of 17 3-point attempts in the first 16 minutes.
Sand Creek pulled to within three points early in the fourth quarter when Garrett Baggett drilled a 3-point shot.
Baggett, who paced the Eagles with 16 points, scored nine points in the fourth quarter as the Scorpions were never able to get closer than five points the remainder of the game.
“The one thing we've been working on with Garrett all season is you've got to block out the shots that you miss and stay in the game,” DeGray said. “He's a shooter. You have to always believe that you are going to make the next shot. He hit a big three for us.”
Valor outscored Sand Creek 16-10 over the last four minutes and made eight of 10 free throws to short circuit any Scorpion victory hopes.
“We played this team before and we told the kids that we have to sustain their run,” DeGray said. “They were going to make a run to get back into the game. That's what they did. We stayed strong and focused.
“This time we sustained their run. Last time we were up and they made a run on us and we never bounced back.”
Chase Foster, the Eagles' leading scorer, had double-double in the quarterfinal triumph.
The 6-foot-7 junior had 11 points and 11 rebounds for Valor, which outrebounded the Scorpions 43-32.