Boys Basketball: Overland blazes a trail, becomes school’s first state hoops champs

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Overland senior Austin Conway smiles as he looks at the Class 5A boys state basketball championship won by the Trailblazers with a 55-42 victory over ThunderRidge in the 5A state championship game on March 14, 2015, at the Coors Events Center in Boulder. Conway scored a game-high 18 points to help Overland win the first state basketball championship for the school, which opened in 1978. (Courtney Oakes/Aurora Sentinel)
Overland senior Austin Conway smiles as he looks at the Class 5A boys state basketball championship won by the Trailblazers with a 55-42 victory over ThunderRidge in the 5A state championship game on March 14, 2015, at the Coors Events Center in Boulder. Conway scored a game-high 18 points to help Overland win the first state basketball championship for the school, which opened in 1978. (Courtney Oakes/Aurora Sentinel)

BOULDER | With the Class 5A state championship in hand, the Overland boys basketball team let everything out Saturday night.

In a lockerroom deep in the heart of the Coors Events Center, coach Danny Fisher danced on chairs and hollered with the jubilant Trailblazers, who just a few minutes earlier made school history with their 55-42 victory over ThunderRidge.

Leading from start to finish, Overland — playing in a final for the first time since 1990 — rewarded boisterous ‘Blazer Nation with the first state hoops championship in the history of the school, which opened in 1978.

“They’ve been so mature, they didn’t celebrate yesterday after the Final Four (a win over Denver East), but now’s their time,” Fisher said before joining the party. “We love each other. It’s like a family, when times get low, we’re tight and we go at each other, but when times are good, we celebrate.

“Times are good.”

The Trailblazers won the fifth 5A boys state basketball title for an Aurora school in the past seven years, following Eaglecrest in 2013 and Regis Jesuit in 2009, 2010 and 2011.

In his final game in an Overland uniform, Wyoming-bound senior guard Austin Conway attacked the basket fiercely and finished with a game-high 18 points, while junior De’Ron Davis added 15 and junior Reggie Gibson 11.

Conway was the first to lay his hands on the state championship trophy, which ended a 37-year title drought.

“I think it’s the second time Overland’s been to a championship game, but the first time we’ve won, so to be a part of that history, that’s something you can’t have taken away from you,” Conway said.

“To be a part of that and have everyone here be a part of that, that’s something you’ll always remember. I’m sure at reunions, this will be talked about forever.”

The 1990 Overland boys basketball team had the previous chance to win the school’s first hoops title, but lost to Manual.

This season’s team took full advantage of the chance to put itself into the recordbooks, taking the momentum it generated from a Final Four run last season and surpassing it to win the title.

“This will be there forever; I can take my kids back to Overland some day and show them this,” senior Ryan Swan said, referring to the trophy in his hands.

“My kids will definitely go to Overland, just so I can talk.”

For the 6-foot-9 Davis, the No. 1 prospect in the country in his class according to many publications, whose arrival three years ago immediately raised the program’s profile — the importance of winning the state championship couldn’t be overstated.

It also meant Davis no longer has to walk by the school’s athletic trophy case — which is located just around the corner from the Trailblazers’ lockerroom — without seeing a basketball trophy.

“We’ve got soccer, volleyball, football and gymnastics won three championships in the last five years,” Davis said. “But to win the first championship in a male sport in so many years, it’s a blessing. It’s crazy that we’ve made history, I’m still trying to process it.”

The last boys state championship for Overland came in 1995 in soccer, while the school had a state football winner in 1993 and a baseball champion in 1990. The basketball title is the 16th overall in school history in seven different sports.

There to witness the victory was a massive section of ’Blazer Nation, which filled more than five spirit busses the previous night to see Overland unseat defending 5A state champion Denver East and packed even more into the stands.

“We’re one family, one love,” senior King Grant-Perry said. “It was Overland vs. Everybody and we did what we came to do.”

The Trailblazers thrilled their fans in the final, with a battle between Davis and 6-10 ThunderRidge big man Zach Pirog taking center stage.

Davis got the better of the matchup, as he finished with 15 rebounds and a handful of blocked shots to go with his 15 points, while Pirog scored just four points — all in the first quarter — to go with nine rebounds.

Conway’s fearless drives to the basket, a seven-point burst from Gibson, including a 3-pointer from the corner and junior Alijah Halliburton’s second chance points and rebounding helped Overland take control with a double-digit lead going into the final period.

Fisher took his starters out with under 30 seconds left save for Conway, who cashed in two free throws, then came out to a hug from Fisher and hugs from each one of his teammates.

“These young men respected the process and now they are icons in the community,” Fisher said. “They will be forever etched into the community around here. …They are amazing and they make me look like I’ve done a good job, but what’s inside of them is a blessing.”

Courtney Oakes is Sports Editor of the Aurora Sentinel. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or [email protected] Twitter: @aurorasports. FB: Aurora Prep Sentinel

(1) OVERLAND 55, (1) THUNDERRIDGE 42

Score by quarters:

Overland          15   6  17  17 — 55

ThunderRidge  7  11    7  17 – 42

OVERLAND (55)

Reggie Gibson 5 0-0 11, Austin Conway 6 5-6 18, Padiet Wang 0 0-0 0, De’Ron Davis 5 5-6 15, Ryan Swan 1 2-2 4, Alijah Halliburton 2 3-4 7, Brent Halliburton 0 0-0 0, King Grant-Perry 0 0-0 0, Bruce Jackson 0 0-0 0, Daniel Lucas 0 0-0 0, Asad Yousef 0 0-0 0, Malik Clark 0 0-0 0. Totals 19 15-18 55.

THUNDERRIDGE (42)

Noah Szilagyi 6 0-0 15, Auston Mueller 3 0-0 8, Zach Pirog 2 0-0 4, Elias Tiedgen 1 1-2 3, Nick Varto 0 0-0 0, Clay Verk 4 0-0 8, Troy Brady 2 0-0 4, Jeff Harhigh 0 0-0 0, Erik Engel 0 0-0 0, Mitch Bloom 0 0-0 0, Elijah Rodriguez 0 0-0 0, Cory Seng 0 0-0 0. Totals 18 1-2 42.

3-point field goals — Overland (2): Austin Conway, Reggie Gibson; ThunderRidge (5): Noah Szilagyi 3, Austin Mueller 2. Total fouls — Overland 9, ThunderRidge 15. Fouled out — None. Technical fouls — None.