It’s a cliche to say “the game could have gone either way.” But this year’s Class 5A state boys basketball championship game encapsulated …
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It’s a cliche to say “the game could have gone either way.” But this year’s Class 5A state boys basketball championship game encapsulated that sentiment perfectly.
Arapahoe High School, having made its second appearance in the state Final Four this season, reached the title game after defeating Rangeview in the semis. The Warriors, a No. 1 seed, then had the only other remaining No. 1 seed of the tournament to play for the title, Chaparral.
In a heartbreaking overtime finish, Chaparral walked away with its first state championship in school history after defeating the Warriors 69-67. The winning bucket came from Chaparral senior Josh Adams, who made good on a missed outside shot from senior Cory Calvert. Arapahoe’s defense had turned its back on the missed shot, leaving Adams to sneak in with one second remaining and pop the rebound in the net for the win March 10 at the Coors Events Center in Boulder.
Arapahoe’s fight was four-plus quarters. The two teams remained tight through most of the first quarter until the end when Chaparral pulled away to a 5-point lead. The Wolverines later pushed it to 12, finding open lanes in Arapahoe’s defense. The Warriors cut the lead to eight by halftime.
Arapahoe opened up in the third and took a small lead in the last minute of the quarter and continued to whittle away at it as momentum shifted between buckets.
In the final minute, Warriors senior Shane Jensen stuffed one in to take a 1-point lead with one minute left. Later, the Warriors’ Zack Bobzein was fouled on a layup which dropped to regain the lead 60-59. He drilled his extra shot at the foul line to put the Warriors up two points with 11 seconds left.
Chaparral’s Wil Keyser rebounded a missed layup from Calvert to sink the tying bucket from the floor, sending the game into 4-minute overtime. Jensen finished the final game of his high school career with 29 points. He also led in rebounds with seven. Senior Zach Kocur wrapped up with 23 points including three from outside the paint.
Arapahoe was no stranger to close games in this year’s postseason. Warriors coach Dan Snyder said the Warriors’ experience in the Sweet 16, where they won an overtime duke out with Legend, and Great 8, with a last minute 2-point win over ThunderRidge, was beneficial going into the Final Four.
“Our players did a great job of keeping their composure during both of those games,” he said. “Big plays were made by both teams going down the stretch. Our players knew they had to keep executing on both offense and defense. And they did that. Our execution was very good during the critical moments of those games.”
In the Final Four game, Arapahoe blistered its way past Rangeview, a No. 4 seed, with a 66-44 final advancing to the state bout. Zach Kocur led the Warriors against Rangeview in scoring with 22 points including three buckets outside the arc. Shane Jensen finished with 19. Evan Walsh hit two from outside as well. Jensen and Austin Pederson each had seven rebounds. Jensen also blocked four shots.
Arapahoe’s romp through playoff opponents came after losing Tim Haas to an injury Feb. 10 during Centennial League action against Cherry Creek. The senior jumped to block a shot and suffered a fracture in a bone near his ankle. Haas, even since the injury, remains the team’s second-leading scorer with more than 400 points on the season. At the time of the injury, he led the Centennial League in scoring as well.
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