DENVER – Eagle Ridge Academy’s boys basketball team ran into a buzzsaw in the semifinals of the state 4A boys basketball tournament March 9.
Holy Family used pressure defense, which forced turnovers and caused the Warriors to get out of rhythm early in the contest at the Denver Coliseum.
The Tigers, the No. 17 seed in the tournament, won the game 65-41 and moved to the finals against No. 2 seed Resurrection Christian Saturday, March 9.
Eric Quintana led the Tigers with 16 points. Jaxon Grable tossed in 15, Rocco Bridges had 13, and Gabe Tafoya chipped in with 11.
Peyton Torres led the Warriors with 11 points. James “Kyren” Allen scored nine, and Cameron Seifert contributed eight.
ERA committed 15 turnovers in the first half. Though the number came down in the second half, the Tigers were well in command by that point.
“We just had too many turnovers,” Allen said. “We didn’t have enough energy to start the game. We didn’t run our plays at all, and that is the best way for us to score the ball.”
With the exception of an early first-quarter lead, ERA played from behind.
“They came out with a little more energy,” Torres said. “They started hitting shots. When you fall behind early, it’s hard to dig yourself out of that hole. It’s unfortunate. We didn’t get out of that hole.”
“They put a lot of pressure on us, and we didn’t take it well,” added Hunter Hill, who was held to three points. “We have to get to the rim as a team. We didn’t.”
“It snowballed,” hill said. “Shots we normally would make weren’t falling.”
Quintana hit three baskets from long range in the third quarter en route to his 16-point performance.
“If we play together, no one can stop us,” he said. “We’ve played together for so long. We know how to play off each other.”
“We honestly like having that chip on our shoulder,” said the Tigers’ Rocco Bridges. “It makes us try a little harder. We just have come out here and compete every night and get the win.”
ERA finishes with a mark of 21-6. The Warriors will need to find replacements for Hill, Torres, Allen Eli Garcia, Daniel Olivas-Rey, Michael Mignogna and Cameron and Christian Seifert.
“It shows we were a good group of seniors,” Hill said. “We played hard. We played as a team.”
“I’m proud of this whole season,” Allen said. “We worked hard this season, and we all wanted the ring this year, too, especially because of the school’s past and how ERA had a losing record ever since they started. It’s good to see how much we have grown from freshmen to now.”
“We have a good culture here,” Torres said. “At one point, we had three wins (in a season). We showed we can build a program. We’re about to graduate, and we’re getting back-to-back 20-win seasons. We care about each other. I only see this program going up from here.”