Three Continental League teams advanced to the Final Four of the Class 5A boys basketball state tournament.
Top-seeded Chaparral (22-4) will play ThunderRidge (21-5) in an 8:30 p.m. semifinal contest on March 8 at the Denver Coliseum, while Mountain Vista (24-2) challenges non-Continental team Rangeview (24-2) in a 7 p.m. encounter.
Chaparral beat ThunderRidge twice during the regular season, winning 58-44 on Dec. 8 and 60-49 on Feb. 8.
The last time a Mountain Vista team played Rangeview was in 2010 and the Golden Eagles lost, 73-51.
In Great 8 games played March 2 at the Coliseum, Chaparral held off Cherry Creek, 67-62, second-seeded Mountain Vista downed Smoky Hill, 77-72, and fifth-seeded ThunderRidge eliminated Overland, 73-49.
Chaparral and Creek were tied for the 10th time in the game at 57 with 3:36 remaining in the game, but 4 points from Kobe Sanders, 4 from Joseph Dalton and 2 from Tizell Lewis in the closing minutes helped propel the Wolverines into the semifinals.
Senior Bryce Matthews made 8-of-9 field goal attempts and paced Chaparral with 20 points and eight rebounds. Tanner Giles had 13 points and eight rebounds, while Sanders and Dalton Waldron contributed 10 points. Waldron also had eight rebounds.
Julian Hammond III scored 21 points, 16 coming in the second half, for the Bruins.
Chaparral coach Tellus Truesdale noted the Wolverines had plenty of motivation heading into the game.
“We have a group of seniors that have been here before,” said Truesdale. “I have an article above my desk for the whole year after we lost last year in the Great 8. I said it would be a learning experience.
“I told our guys before we went into the playoffs that I look at that every day when I go into the office for a reason. It hurt last year because we felt we had enough. Final Four is great but we are not satisfied just making the Final Four.”
Senior guard Ben Grusing was satisfied with the play of Mountain Vista down the stretch against Smoky Hill.
Grusing scored 12 of Vista’s final 18 points as the Golden Eagles survived an amazing display of shooting when Smoky Hill hit four 3-pointers in 33 seconds during the final minute to pull within 75-72 with 10 seconds to play. Two free throws by Corban Gamble with nine seconds showing on the clock sealed the victory.
“I thought we played very well at the end,” said Grusing. “They were hitting shots and they were a good team and we knew they were going to make a run. We just had to stay disciplined.”
Mountain Vista was 22-of-29 from the foul line compared to 7-of-11 for Smoky Hill.
“Our free throws were gigantic,” said Vista coach Bob Wood. “I thought we played horrible in our first playoff game and a little better last week. We are going in the right direction now. Hopefully, that will continue.”
Grusing was Vista’s top scorer with 20 points. Simon May had 14 points and 10 rebounds, Luke Boeyrink finished with 11 points and Rhys Pulling scored 10 points.
ThunderRidge jumped to a 16-0 lead against Overland and never looked back as coach Joe Ortiz will lead the Grizzlies into their 10th Final Four appearance as a head coach. It will be the 16th time Ortiz, a 1982 Littleton High School graduate, has been coaching on a team in the state semifinals.
The Grizzlies got balanced scored, with Bailey Verk leading the way with 18 points. Senior Austin Holt had 14 points and 12 rebounds. Justin Smith was 4-for-4 from 3-point range and also had 14 points. Kevin Sax finished with 12 points.
“It was a great start,” said Ortiz. “That was the best we’ve ever played. I’ve feel like we’ve have been playing better and better throughout the playoffs. Survival. I’m very proud of our players.”
Sweet 16 games were Feb. 27 as Chaparral shot 54 percent to down Mullen, 82-57. Matthews scored 17 points and had 10 rebounds while Sanders had 16 points and handed out seven assists.
Hot-shooting Cherry Creek hit 59 percent of its field goal attempts and Hammond III scored 25 points as the 24th seeded Bruins slipped past Fairview, 76-67. Creek made 10 3-point baskets, including 8-of-11 in the second half.
ThunderRidge edged Denver East in overtime, 59-56, with Sax leading the way with 12 points and Garrett Arnold scoring 10 points.
Rock Canyon grabbed a 9-point lead after the first quarter but couldn’t hold on as Grandview posted a 42-38 victory. Junior Jalen Ashley scored 13 points to spark the Jaguars’ offense.
Smoky Hill ousted Highlands Ranch, 53-36
Mountain Vista moved on with a 71-65 win over Fruita Monument. Gamble hit a 3-point shot in the fourth quarter to give the Golden Eagles the lead for good. The senior finished with 10 points, two rebounds, four assists and four steals.
In the 3A playoffs, top seeded Lutheran notched a first round 53-39 win over DSST Green Valley Ranch on March 1 and moved on with a 64-46 victory over Roaring Fork on March 2.
The Lions (19-5) will play DSST Stapleton in a Great 8 contest on March 7 at the University of Denver’s Hamilton gym.
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