No. 1 Eagles bounced from state playoffs

Valor boys fall in overtime to Pueblo East in Great 8

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Valor Christian’s boys basketball team, like almost all high school squads, struggles when shots are not falling.

The top-seeded Eagles shot poorly when the game was on the line in a March 8 Great 8 contest against Pueblo East at the Denver Coliseum and were ushered out of the Class 4A state playoffs after suffering a 62-56 overtime loss to the squad from Colorado’s Steel City.

“They put the ball in the hole more than we did,” said Valor coach Ronnie DeGray. “Hats off to them. They made plays late. We shot the ball well all season. In the games we didn’t win, it was because we didn’t shoot the ball well.”

Valor, which finishes the season with a 21-5 record, shot 36.2 percent for the game but was a mere 2-for-10 in the overtime and 1-for-4 during the final four minutes of the fourth quarter. The Eagles were 3-for-7 at the foul line down the stretch of regulation time while trying to hold the lead.

“They were a tough team,” added DeGray. “We had a couple runs but we knew they would come back.”

Valor had an 11-point lead in the first half and was ahead 47-43 with 1:56 remaining in the fourth quarter.

It looked like the Eagles were going to escape with a victory, but Pueblo East’s Dylan Gavin, who scored a game-high 27 points, used a screen to drive down the lane for a layup with one second showing on the clock to tie the game at 49.

East made just one field goal in the four-minute extra session but converted 12-of-15 free throws to notch the upset victory.

Garrett Baggett led Valor’s offense with 18 points, Chase Foster scored 12 and Christian McCaffrey added 10 points. Foster, the 6-foot-5 senior who led Valor in scoring on the season and is bound for San Francisco next fall, had trouble getting untracked in the early morning contest and was 3-of-12 from the field.

“He’s been our guy all season and we tried to put the ball in his hands and let him create for everybody else but sometimes the ball falls for you and sometimes not,” said DeGray.

Valor, a 2013 Class 4A state runner-up, will graduate eight seniors off its roster.

“It’s been an unbelievable ride for those seniors,” pointed out DeGray. “They worked so hard for this program. They came out and they did everything asked of them.

“Our goal was to get back to Boulder this year and bring it home but the ball didn’t bounce our way. The program is building. We’re going to be a force to be reckoned with years down the road.”