Resilient Arapahoe Warriors Outlast Legend in OT Thriller
Resiliency has been a developing theme for the Arapahoe Warriors in 2012.
They lost eight seniors to graduation before the season began, but still found a way to maintain their status as an elite program. They earned one of four # 1 seeds in this year’s state tournament and currently have an impressive record of 23-2.
They lost their leading scorer and most talented player - Tim Haas - to a season ending injury a few weeks back, but still found a way to keep winning basketball games. They have now 16 straight contests, including five wins without their star player in the lineup.
They lost an eight point fourth quarter lead in the Sweet Sixteen Tuesday night, but still found a way to defeat Legend 75-67, in a heart-pumping overtime thriller.
This contest between the Arapahoe Warriors and the Legend Titans was mile high hoops at its finest. These two teams went toe to toe in front of a packed house at Arapahoe, with deafening roars that reverberated the gym walls throughout the entire game. Every time Arapahoe looked to be in control, Legend had a response.
“That certainly is as crazy as any game I have ever been a part of,” said Warriors head coach Dan Snyder. “That was wild and that team (Legend) was really good and really well coached. We just could not get away from them.”
“That was by far the most exciting game I have every played,” said senior Warrior Shane Jensen. “By far.”
Well, if that was the craziest game that Jensen has ever played, he made sure to leave his imprint on the stat sheet. Playing almost the entire 37 minutes of regulation and overtime, Jensen was an absolute beast, scoring a game-high 30 points and grabbing a game-high 11 rebounds.
“Well Shane was a monster tonight,” said Coach Snyder. “He was awesome. He stepped up in a big way, and he was huge on the boards. He is a unique player. He is a difficult player to defend because of his versatility and because of his length. He had a huge game tonight and we obviously needed it.”
The conclusion of regulation was quite intense. Arapahoe led Legend 51-43 going into the fourth quarter. But the Titans, who are just in their fourth year of existence, and second year competing at the 5A classification, would not concede defeat.
Legend kept making plays down the stretch, and actually led 61-60 with less than a minute remaining. With Jensen at the line shooting two and less than 30 seconds left, he had an opportunity to put Arapahoe up by one. He nailed the first but missed the second, leveling the game but leaving the door open for a massive upset. Legend’s senior star Derrick White waited until the clock ticked down, jacked up a long three that was on line, but the ball rattled in and out. The Titan’s were agonizingly close to knocking off the tournament’s top seed, but then let the game slip away in the overtime.
Arapahoe’s Zach Kocur dropped eight of his 19 points in overtime, outscoring the entire Legend team in the extra session.
“That gym was crazy,” said Kocur. “It was the last home game at Arapahoe this season, so it was great to finish it off that way.”
The Titans were without their starting center Jonas Santana for all of overtime. He led his team in scoring with 20 points, a career high, but fouled out with 4:38 left in the fourth quarter. Legend missed his post presence when he was forced to sit for the remainder of the contest.
Arapahoe now advances to the elite eight for the fourth straight year. They are the only 5A team in the state of Colorado to accomplish that feat.
And remember, the Warriors are doing all of this after losing one of the state’s best players to a broken foot back on February 10th. But Haas didn’t let the cast on his leg get in the way of cheering on his teammates.
“I am just so proud of them. I never doubted for one second that they wouldn’t step up. It’s so much fun to be a part of,” said Haas. “It’s a great win and it really solidifies the sense of belief that we have built up.”
A great victory indeed, but the journey is not over for the Warriors.
“It’s a great win in a terrific environment over a really good team. But we can’t be satisfied with that,” said Coach Snyder. “We want to go forward. We will have two good days of practice and get after it on Friday.”
The #1 seeded Arapahoe Warriors will battle the #2 seeded Thunderridge Grizzlies on Friday night at the Denver Coliseum, an elite match-up of two of the state’s top teams.
“This is what we live for,” said Jensen.
It is also what mile high hoops fans live for as well. With the month of March one day away, the madness is already in full swing.
Both the Arapahoe and Legend student sections were gigantic and loud. The two mobs were screaming back and forth the entire night…. The master of ceremonies still announced Hass’ name at the beginning of the game despite the fact that he was in street clothes. He received a loud ovation…Arapahoe got to the line way more than Legend. Arapahoe was 20 of 28 (71%). Legend was 10 of 12 (83%)…This was the first senior class in the existence of Legend. It is apparent that Coach Kevin Boley is immediately building a respectable program…Junior Evan Walsh was the only other Warrior in double figures, notching 13 points…Derrick White was the only other Titan in double figures, scoring 17 points…
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