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ThunderRidge coach Joe Ortiz labeled it a devastating loss as poor shooting cost the Grizzlies a chance to play for the Class 5A boys basketball championship.
Grandview took advantage of ThunderRidge's shooting woes to secure a 42-39 semifinal victory on March 9 at the Denver Coliseum.
The Grizzlies didn't make a field goal in the final 5:50 of the third quarter and Austin Holt's basket 2:11 into the fourth period ended a 8:01 ThunderRidge drought without a field goal as Grandview went on a 15-3 run.
“We struggled to score and missed some shots,” said Ortiz. “We were fighting for our lives on the defensive end.”
ThunderRidge was making its ninth appearance in the Final Four and ended the season with a 25-2 record.
“It was for sure a good season,” added Ortiz. “It's kind of where our program is. We expect these seasons. It's devastating when you lose.”
ThunderRidge, back-to-back state champions in 2002 and 2003, has gone 94-13 over the past four seasons.
Grandview was 1-for-4 at the free throw line, with all the attempts coming in the second half but the Wolves missed the front end of three one-and-one situations in the final 66 seconds, which gave the Grizzlies a chance to extend the game.
ThunderRidge trailed 42-39 with 16.4 seconds to play when Holt missed two free throws for the Grizzlies. Grandview missed another free throw 7.8 remaining, which gave Kaison Hammonds a chance to tie the game with a 3-pointer.
However, Hammonds shot was no good as Grandview advanced to the state finals.
“We missed some free throws,” said Ortiz. “I don't know we have to look at it one possession at a team. They had some nice post finishes.”
ThunderRidge shot 33.3 percent from the field in the second half compared to 61.9 percent for the Wolves. Grandview shot 51.4 percent for the game.
Hammonds, a 6-foot-4 senior, led ThunderRidge with 13 points with 10 coming in the first half. He was the team's leading scorer during the season with a 15.8 point-per-game average. Justin McCaw finished with a 10.7 scoring average.
Austin had six rebounds to pace the Grizzlies against Grandview.
ThunderRidge players wore orange T-shirts during warmups of the Final Four game with "Crush It" inscribed across the front in honor of Principal Chris Tabeling, who passed away from cancer on March 4. Tabeling's used the term "crush it" during his battle with cancer.
Ortiz and the coaching staff donned orange polo shirts while cheerleaders and the ThunderRidge students in the Coliseum stands also wore the orange T-shirts.
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