Boys Basketball: Overland stopped by Denver East in foul-plagued 5A semifinal in Boulder

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BOULDER | In a disjointed contest filled with fouls, the Overland boys basketball team fell behind Denver East and never caught up in Friday night’s Class 5A state semifinals.

With a total of 48 fouls whistled against both teams — which resulted in 70 free throw attempts — the Trailblazers couldn’t quite keep up with the Angels in a game that swung on the contributions of both benches.

Denver East-Overland 5A Boys Final Four basketball 3.14.14
Overland sophomore De’Ron Davis throws down a dunk in the fourth quarter of the Trailblazers’ 77-65 loss to Denver East in a Class 5A boys state basketball semifinal on March 14, 2014, at the Coors Events Center in Boulder. (Courtney Oakes/Aurora Sentinel)

Denver East outscored Overland 29-17 at the free throw line and that 12-point difference turned out to be the final margin as the Angels advanced to play Fossil Ridge —  a 79-62 winner over Mountain Vista in the other semifinal — at 8:30 p.m. Saturday.

“That’s basketball, sometimes the ball falls and sometimes it doesn’t, you just have to tip your hat to the team that played better tonight,” said junior Austin Conway, who tied for game-high honors with 21 points.

Sophomore De’Ron Davis added 11 points despite playing just 19 minutes because of foul trouble and senior T’Aren Williams finished with 10 for the Trailblazers, who played in the semifinals for the first time since 1990.

Coach Danny Fisher’s Overland team finished 20-7 overall in a remarkable season that saw it claim the program’s first Centennial League championship since 1999.

Denver East, which lost to Overland’s Centennial League rival Eaglecrest in last season’s 5A state title game, came out firing on all cylinders as it raced out to an 18-8 lead behind stars Ronnie Harrell and Dominique Collier.

But the anticipated show of athleticism on both teams was hindered as the fouls mounted and it became a “slow, hard game” in Conway’s words. At one point, the Trailblazers had been whistled for nine fouls in just nine minutes of play and the Angels were in the double bonus with 5:16 left in the second quarter.

The tandem of the 6-foot-9 Davis and 6-5 junior Ryan Swan — whose play in the paint had been a bit part of Overland’s recent success — each were saddled with three fouls midway through the second quarter, as were Denver East standouts Collier, Brian Carey and Tyre Robinson.

“They went at De’Ron and as soon as he got his fouls and sat, it was hard,” Williams said. “He’s a big piece on the floor, so we weren’t able to run certain things on the floor that we usually do.”

Still, junior King Grant-Perry scored three points in the final 40 seconds of the first half and kept Overland within 42-36 at the break.

Davis managed just three points in the first half as he battled foul trouble and had to return to the bench just 35 seconds into the second half when he was whistled for his fourth foul.

The Trailblazers still managed to close within 47-42 with 3:30 left in the period following a four-point burst by Conway and Swan’s inside basket, only to see Harrell and Jevon Griffin key a 10-2 Denver East run to end the period with a 57-44 advantage.

Davis dunked on the first play of the fourth quarter and finally got going with eight points in the final period and Conway also scored eight in the fourth, but Overland never got closer than 11 the rest of the way.

Carey, who stayed on the floor for the entire second half after picking up four fouls in the first two quarters, finished 7-for-8 from the free throw line to ice it.

“You just have to take advantage of your opportunity; we had our shot, but they gave us their best run and we didn’t have another one,” Conway said.

The good news for Fisher is that only two of the nine players who were on the floor Friday night — Williams and reserve Khalil Jenkins — are seniors.

With a starting lineup that had two juniors in Conway and Swan and two sophomores in Davis and Jervae Robinson (who had eight points), the possibility for the Trailblazers to return to the Coors Event Center next year looked strong.

“It was a really fun year and I’m going to miss it,” said Williams, who suffered the loss on his birthday.

“I think it was something to remember, though, especially for the little guys who can come back and have the opportunity again next year,” he added. “It was a good stamp mark for the team.”

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

(1) DENVER EAST 77, (1) OVERLAND 65

Score by quarters:

Overland        15   21    8   21 — 65

Denver East  23   19  15   20 — 77

OVERLAND (65)

Jervae Robinson 3 1-2 8, T’Aren Williams 4 2-8 10, Austin Conway 8 4-6 21, De’Ron Davis 2 7-8 11, Ryan Swan 3 2-2 8, King Grant-Perry 2 1-3 5, Khalil Jenkins 1 0-0 2, Tyler Stevenson 0 0-0 0. Totals 23 17-29 65.

DENVER EAST (77)

Jevon Griffin 2 4-6 8, Brian Carey 5 9-11 21, Dominique Collier 5 7-10 18, Ronnie Harrell 6 5-7 20, Tyre Robinson 1 3-3 5, Jordan Willis 2 1-4 5, Randal Jones 0 0-0 0, Koa Peterson 0 0-0 0. Totals 21 29-41 77.

3-point field goals — Overland (2): Austin Conway, Jervae Robinson; Denver East (6): Ronnie Harrell 3, Brian Carey 2, Dominique Collier. Total fouls — Overland 26, Denver East 22. Fouled out — Overland: Ryan Swan; Denver East: Tyre Robinson, Jordan Willis. Technical fouls — None.