Chaparral and ThunderRidge head to Final Four

Douglas County eliminated in Grand Eight play

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Chaparral stormed back for a stunning comeback victory in a boys Class 5A state Great Eight matchup on March 5 at the Denver Coliseum.

Meanwhile, Continental League opponent ThundeRidge advanced to the Final Four with an easy win over Rock Canyon.

In the Grand Eight contest, Chap rallied to edge Eaglecrest, 65-60. ThunderRidge easily defeated Rock Canyon, 78-51.

In the other games, Denver East pulled away from Douglas County in the fourth quarter to notch a 68-57 win. Fossil Ridge connected on 53.2% of its field goals in a 80-53 romp over Legacy.

The top four seeded teams in the Grand Eight now move on to the Final Four, slated for a March 11 tip off at the Coliseum.

Top-seeded and defending state champion ThunderRidge (24-2) will challenge No. 4 Denver East (24-2) in a 7 p.m. contest.

Third-seeded Chap will play No. 2 Fossil Ridge at 8:30 p.m. in the other Final Four matchup.

The two winners from the Final Four will head to the state championships on March 12 at the Coliseum.

In Grand Eight play, it did not look like Chap would advance to the semi-finals, but the Wolverines rallied and will be making their first Final Four appearance since 2019.

Eaglecrest shot 61.9 percent from the floor in the first half and continued its hot accuracy at the start of the third quarter, building a 16-point lead at 49-33 with 4:51 left in the stanza.

Luke Williams and Bennett Pegues led a Wolverine comeback, which led Chap on a  20-4 run in the fourth.

Eaglecrest’s shooting cooled and the Centennial League champions unofficially went 2-for-12 in the last eight minutes.

“When you notice their shooters are cooling off, that’s when you have to go,” said Pegues. “We feed off that. I had no doubt we would come back. We knew we wanted to win. All we could see was a win. We couldn’t see a loss.”

Williams was also confident that Chap would rally.

“At the beginning of the season, we were in that situation many times and we just try not to overreact,” he said. “I was just trying to do what I could do. Everybody was starting to heat up. Everybody woke up and I hit my shots and got my share of buckets.”

Williams had a game high 32 points with 12 coming in the fourth quarter. Pegues scored eight of his 11 points in the final eight minutes of regulation.

Joel Speckman also had 11 points for Chap.

“I’m happy I get to coach this team for another week,” said Wolverines Coach Nate Rohnert. “They never stopped believing against Eaglecrest. I did nothing. Those guys just kept playing. When you do that and have quality guys, anything can happen.”

Chap will be facing Fossil Ridge for the second time this season after losing 67-63 game in December.

“It’s going to be a tough game,” said Williams. “We will watch film and know what we have to do to go out and win.”

Hot-shooting ThunderRidge, which hit at a 61.9 clip from the field, didn’t have much trouble against Continental League rival Rock Canyon and advanced to the Final Four for the 12th time.

The Grizzlies had four players score double figures.

Zach Keller, the 6-foot-9 senior, and Wake Forest commit, had a double-double with 17 points and 10 rebounds. Jackson Brennan also had 17 points. Andrew Crawford sunk 15 points and Joey Billelo hit 10.

Rock Canyon’s Gavin Hershberger took game scoring honors with 20 points. Chris Schlesinger added 12 points to the Jaguars’ attack.

“We played great,” said ThunderRidge Coach Joe Ortiz whose team attempted 17 free throws in the final 5:34 of regulation. “We had good energy and good focus. Our resolve and resilience was better. Our best player (Keller) really played well and that really sparked us. I thought we handledtheir pressure really well.”

Keller is looking forward to the Grizzlies game against Denver East.

“They do process to offense really well and that is something we have to work on,” he said.

Douglas County closed to within a point of the Angels in the third quarter of the Grand Eight competition on March 5, but Denver East started the fourth period with a 14-2 run, holding on in the last 2:19 for the win.

Ty Nettles had 17 points for the Huskies and Jaeton Hackley, who fouled out in the fourth quarter, added 14 markers.

chaparral boys basketball, eaglecrest boys basketball, thunderridge boys basketball, Colorado 5A final four, Denver East basketball, boys high school basketball, jaeton hackley, joe ortiz, rock canyon basketball, gavin hershberger

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