Highlands Ranch Handles Rival Mountain Vista
The towering Highlands Ranch Falcons wore down the scrappy Mountain Vista Golden Eagles Friday night 66-55, advancing to the Final Four for the second straight year.
The final score was not indicative of how close the contest actually was. The fifth seeded Golden Eagles hung tough with the second seeded Falcons through the first three quarters, but the Falcons used a dominant fourth quarter to secure the victory.
“Everything is hard. Everything is hard. This was such a battle,” said Highlands Ranch coach Bob Caton. “They (Mountain Vista) are scrappy. They hustle. Our kids showed a lot of character and a lot of guts down the stretch.”
With five minutes remaining, the game was tied at 49 apiece. But that is when the Falcons began to pull away with superior interior play and clutch free throw shooting.
“Shot blocks and rebounding ended up helping us a lot,” said Falcon senior Austin Haldorson, who had a monster double-double with 19 points and 13 rebounds.
Highlands Ranch truly dominated the boards, out-rebounding Mountain Vista 45 to 27.
“They scored with us until the fourth quarter and thankfully we hit our free throws down the stretch,” said Haldorson.
Highlands Ranch’s Brett Brady was particularly lethal at the line. He was 11 for 11 from the charity stripe, and 8 for 8 in the fourth quarter alone.
“I just like to be at the line at the end and knock down shots because I know I can make them,” said Brady, who had 19 points on the night.
Despite Highlands Ranch distinct height advantage, Mountain Vista was able keep the contest close by taking better care of the rock than their opponents. The Golden Eagles only committed three turnovers the entire game, while the Falcons had 14 turnovers.
These two teams know each other quite well and are Continental League Rivals. The last time they played on February 16th, the Falcons won a triple overtime thriller.
“The schools are right next to each other. They have played against one another since the fourth grade. There is always a lot riding on this but even more riding on this because it’s a trip to the final four,” said Coach Caton.
The Falcons were flying high after they soared to victory, securing a return trip to Boulder.
“It feels pretty good. We know we wanted to get back after last year, and now we want to go farther than last year,” said Brady.
Highlands Ranch lost in the semifinals last year to Boulder.
“We don’t want to stop now. We want to keep winning,” said Haldorson. “It feels great. We just want to get back the Final Four and do something Highlands Ranch has never done.”
The boys basketball program at Highlands Ranch has never won a state title. And neither has Coach Caton, who has had an illustrious Colorado high school coaching career, but is still searching for a state title ring.
“It’s one game at a time. We just go one game at a time and we are very fortunate. We are lucky to be in this situation so we are very happy,” said Coach Caton.
Coach Caton and company will be even happier if they can find a way to win two more games.