AURORA | Not many teams will want to see the Cherokee Trail boys basketball team come the Class 5A state playoffs and Friday night was Exhibit A as to why.
Playing minus junior standout Ronnie Barfield — their third-leading scorer — the Cougars banded together with Centennial League-leading Eaglecrest in the house and shocked the Raptors, ranked No. 4 in the latest Associated Press Class 5A media poll, by a 46-45 count in overtime.
Senior Kam Brandon, who has played in only half of Cherokee Trail’s games this season, netted the eventual winning basket on a layup with 3 seconds remaining regulation, which brought the Cougars’ student section pouring onto the court. Officials cleared the floor and the Raptors had a last-gap chance, but Blend Avdili’s long 3-pointer hit the rim.
Izaiah Lottie scored 12 points and Brandon finished with a season-high 10 for coach Morgan Gregory’s Cherokee Trail team, which avenged a loss three weeks earlier to the Raptors and solidified its third-place position in the Centennial League at 9-3 in league and 14-7 overall.
Avdili — whose 3-pointer gave coach John Olander’s Raptors an early lead in overtime — finished with a game-high 17 points, while sophomore Colbey Ross added 14 for Eaglecrest (16-5, 10-2), which lost its share of first place in the league standings with Overland.
The Trailblazers — who pay a visit to Cherokee Trail on Feb. 18 – downed Cherry Creek 61-50 to take over sole possession of the top spot at 11-1 in league.
The Raptors led for most of the game until the Cougars overtook them early in the fourth quarter, but Eaglecrest went back up by two with under a minute left. Cherokee Trail managed to get a steal and David Thornton’s follow tied it at 42-42. It went to overtime when Ross’ jumper bounced out.
Eaglecrest took the early lead in the four-minute overtime on Avdili’s triple and had a chance to add on, but Ross missed the front end of a 1-and-1 free throw chance. Sophomore Nate Bokol snatched the rebound for the Raptors, but was trapped and had his pass stolen by sophomore Jaizec Lottie, who raced to the other end of the floor to make a layup and was fouled by Elijah Ross as he went up.
Lottie missed the tying free throw attempt, but the Cougars tied up Elijah Ross after he’d come down with the rebound, with the jump ball going to Cherokee Trail with four seconds remaining.
Brandon snuck into the paint and cashed in the inbounds pass for what proved to be the winning basket.
Courtney Oakes is Sports Editor of the Aurora Sentinel. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or [email protected] Twitter: @aurorasports. FB: Aurora Prep Sentinel
CHEROKEE TRAIL 46, (4) EAGLECREST 45 (OT)
Score by quarters:
Eaglecrest 14 13 7 8 3 — 45
Cher. Trail 9 7 12 14 4 — 46
Elijah Ross 2 0-0 4, Colbey Ross 5 2-4 14, Peter Anderson 2 0-0 6, Anthony Karmazyn 0 0-0 0, Blend Avdili 7 2-2 17, Nate Bokol 1 0-1 2, Darian Turner 1 0-0 2. Totals 18 4-7 45
CHEROKEE TRAIL (46)
KJ Sapp 1 0-0 2, David Thornton 2 2-2 6, Jaizec Lottie 3 0-1 7, Izaiah Lottie 5 1-3 12, Brandon Scott 3 1-2 7, Kam Brandon 4 1-1 10, Ammon Johnson 1 0-0 2, Drequez Harvey 0 0-0 0. Totals 19 5-9 46.
3-point field goals — Eaglecrest (5): Peter Anderson 2, Colbey Ross 2, Blend Avdili; Cherokee Trail (3): Kham Brandon, Izaiah Lottie, Jaizec Lottie; Total fouls — Eaglecrest 16, Cherokee Trail 14; Fouled out — None. Technical fouls — None.