Originally, this week’s update was scheduled to include a celebration of the teams who brought home hardware from the state basketball tournaments last weekend, while also looking at the early results of the spring sport season. As most of you probably already know, that’s not going to happen.
Last Wednesday, just over 15 hours ahead of the first games of the Class 1A and Class 2A state events, along with the quarterfinals of Class 3A, rumors started to fly about the possible cancellation of the tournaments. At 7:45 p.m. that night, word came down that the Colorado High School Activities Association (CHSAA) would allow the games to go on, but without fans in attendance. Only essential team, game, and media personnel would be allowed in the arenas. A few hours later, after much discussion, CHSAA released a new statement.
That new statement amended their previous stance, now allowing a maximum of four family members/guests to attend, for each team member. They would have to be on a gate list and would have to leave the arena as soon as their game had concluded.
Thursday’s games would go on. And the crowds, while small in size, were very vocal in their support for their athletes. Some communities had been waiting for close to 30 years to support their teams at the state tournament. For one, it was the first time since 1982 that their program had been on the state scene. And for others, this past weekend marked the first time EVER.
Sterling’s boys quickly punched their ticket to the Class 3A Final Four, as the Tigers pounced on last year’s runner-up, The Vanguard School. Sterling jumped out to a 14-2 first quarter lead, only to see the second-seeded Coursers rally back in the second. By the half, the Tigers’ lead had been trimmed to just four, 20-16. Sterling would go on to outscore Vanguard by a dozen in the second half to earn the 53-37 victory. Axel Henry and Jackson Keil each scored 16 points to lead the way, and Brock Shalla added 15. Sterling would later be joined by Faith Christian in one semifinal, while the other would pit Resurrection Christian against the defending champs from Manual.
Later in the day, the Lady Beetdiggers from Brush would play their 3A quarterfinal contest against Eaton, a team they had lost to 45-44 during the regular season. Unfortunately, there would be no dramatics this time around. Eaton led by a 31-17 count at the half and rolled to a 57-33 decision. Dalayna Tadolini was the only player for Brush in double figures, scoring 11 points in her final high school contest.
In the 2A girls’ tournament in Loveland, Wray was bumped to the consolation bracket by Del Norte, 63-46. The Lady Eagles had three players in double figures, led by Karly Godsey with 13. Tabby Jones added 12 and Abby Shay, 11.
Limon and Holyoke each won their quarterfinal contests, with the top-seeded Lady Badgers downing Holly 67-45, and Holyoke moving past Ignacio 47-34. Sixth-seed Sanford would complete the Final Four, upsetting No. 3 Rye, 46-31. It was the first loss suffered by Rye this season.
The 2A boys’ Final Four was to include Yuma, as the two-time defending champs used a 10-1 second quarter to grab a 24-19 halftime lead over Fowler. The two teams would combine for 52 third quarter points and the Indians headed to the fourth leading 51-44. The Grizzlies held Yuma to just four points in the final frame, but came up short, 55-51.
Limon would have been Yuma’s next opponent, thanks to the Badgers’ wild 43-34 win over Peyton. Limon outscored Peyton 17-0 in the second quarter to grab control, but the Panthers got right back in with a 20-4 third.
Wray also earned a semifinal berth, thanks to its 49-36 win over No. 4 Sanford. The Eagles ran out to a 10-0 first quarter and led 27-10 at the half. Their lead would never dip below nine points in the second half. That win would have given them a shot at the top seed, Highland, in the semis, as the Huskies rolled past Ignacio 80-35.
UNC in Greeley hosted the Class 1A tournament and the first game of the day set the tone for the day, as South Baca held off Sangre de Cristo 38-34 in a girls quarterfinal. After only scoring 13 points in the first half, the Patriots outscored Sangre 13-2 in the third quarter to grab the advantage.
The next girls’ quarterfinal was even closer. Shining Mountain was making its first ever tournament appearance and they were facing an opponent full of young players who had grown up watching the tournament as managers and now as players for Fleming. Neither team would be able to gain much of an advantage, as the largest separation was a nine-point advantage for Fleming late in the first half. Down one in the closing seconds, Shining Mountain got two shots at the basket, with the second dropping at the buzzer to give the Lions a 39-38 victory.
Making its first appearance in nearly 40 years, Springfield withstood a game-high 22 points from McClave’s Anna Beckett, including buzzer beaters at the end of the second and third quarters, to collect a 42-32 victory. It would be the largest margin of victory for the day at UNC.
Briggsdale, the No. 2 seed, had its title hopes dashed in the last quarterfinal of the day, as No. 7 Cotopaxi, playing on the state stage for the first time since 1991, dominated the Falcons early. The Pirates led 12-2 after one quarter, but only held a 20-18 edge at the half. Briggsdale would remain within striking distance throughout the second half, but came up short at the horn, 45-42. Kylie Krise (15) and Shelby Hoffman (12) combined for 27 points to lead Briggsdale. Cotopaxi’s Koylynn Gulliford recorded 16 points, 21 rebounds, and five blocks. The junior needs two blocks entering the contest to reach 150 for her career.
The boys bracket was just as tightly contested, with all four games being decided by single digits. Mile High Academy, making its first appearance in just its second season as a CHSAA member, picked up the first win of the day by outlasting Evangelical Christian Academy, 70-63.
The morning session closed out with top-seeded Kit Carson picking up a 47-38 victory over Ouray behind 12 points from Sullivan Farmer and 10 from Peter Hornung. The Wildcats played the fourth quarter without Jayden McCombs-Farmer (sprained ankle) and Cordell Farmer (ACL).
A rematch of last year’s 3 vs. 6 contest saw a flip of the script. Last season, Merino, as the No. 6 seed, upset No. 3 Walsh 45-42. This time around, the third-seeded Eagles held on for a 46-44 victory in what has quickly become a fun postseason rivalry.
The nightcap featured the defending state champs, De Beque, and Briggsdale in a rematch of their own. The two met in the season’s second game, won by De Beque 82-74 in overtime. They would again go overtime, but the Falcons would gain a measure of revenge, thanks in part to a clutch three-pointer by Braden Krise with ten seconds to play in OT. Two free throws by Wyatt Patton pushed Briggsdale’s lead to three, and after a final shot by the Dragons to tie was no good, the Falcons won 58-55.
Just more than an hour after that game had concluded, CHSAA informed teams and fans that the remainder of the tournament, at all classifications, was being canceled. The driving force was Denver University, the 3A host, pulling out. Earlier in the day, CHSAA had also released a statement that all spring sports, including practices and competitions, were being suspended until April 6th.
Over the weekend, the Center for Disease Control recommended an eight-week suspension of all gatherings of 50 or more people, including sporting events. As of early Monday morning, no word had been received as to CHSAA’s decision regarding that recommendation.