Boys Basketball: ThunderRidge holds off Eaglecrest to claim spot in 5A state title game

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Eaglecrest sophomore Colbey Ross, right, reacts after the Raptors' 57-47 loss to ThunderRidge in a Class 5A boys state basketball semifinal played on March 13, 2015, at the Coors Events Center in Boulder. Ross scored 26 points, but it wasn't enough for the Raptors, who were seeking a chance to match the state championship they won in 2012-13. (Courtney Oakes/Aurora Sentinel)
Eaglecrest sophomore Colbey Ross, right, reacts after the Raptors’ 57-47 loss to ThunderRidge in a Class 5A boys state basketball semifinal played on March 13, 2015, at the Coors Events Center in Boulder. Ross scored 26 points, but it wasn’t enough for the Raptors, who were seeking a chance to match the state championship they won in 2012-13. (Courtney Oakes/Aurora Sentinel)

BOULDER | The 2012-13 Class 5A state championship will have to tide the Eaglecrest boys basketball team over a little bit longer, as the Raptors fell short of adding another Friday.

Coach John Olander’s Raptors played hard from start to finish in a semifinal contest, but ThunderRidge’s combination of 6-foot-10 Zach Pirog on the inside and a variety of shooters from the perimeter proved too potent as the Grizzlies prevailed 57-47 at the Coors Events Center.

Sophomore Colbey Ross poured in a game-high 26 points for Eaglecrest, which finished the season 21-6 overall. The Centennial League runner-ups also got 10 points from senior Blend Avdili and seven from senior Peter Anderson.

ThunderRidge, making its first appearance in the Final Four since 2009, earned its way into its fifth championship game all-time. The Grizzlies will play in the title game at 8:30 p.m. Saturday against either top-seeded Overland, who topped sixth-seeded Denver East 72-52.

Pirog finished with 22 points, 16 rebounds and a variety of blocked shots, while Noah Szilagyi knocked down four of the eight 3-pointers hit by ThunderRidge on just 13 total attempts.

The Raptors started slowly in their eventually comfortable Great 8 win over Legend and again got behind big early, as Pirog tallied eight points in the opening quarter and the Grizzlies got 3-pointers from unexpected sources — Clay Verk and Nick Varto — to lead 20-9.

Eaglecrest’s swarming defense forced six turnovers in the second quarter, while they were able to make up four points of the deficit as Colbey Ross scored seven points in the period.

The Raptors had whittled the Grizzlies’ lead all the way down to 26-22 inside of a minute, but Szilagyi hit a clutch 3-pointer shortly before the horn to up the margin to seven.

Pirog added another eight-point period in the third as ThunderRidge kept the same size lead going into the final quarter.

Avdili pulled Eaglecrest within 51-45 with an inside basket with a minute remaining, but the Raptors couldn’t stop the Grizzlies from salting away the game at the free throw line.

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) THUNDERRIDGE 57, (1) EAGLECREST 47

Score by quarters:

ThunderRidge  20    9  13  15 — 57

Eaglecrest            9  13  13  12 — 47

THUNDERRIDGE (57)

Noah Szilagyi 4 1-2 13, Austin Mueller 1 0-0 3, Zach Pirog 9 4-4 22, Elias Tiedgen 2 2-5 6, Nick Varto 2 1-6 7, Clay Verk 2 0-0 5, Jeff Harhigh 0 1-2 1, Erik Engel 0 0-0 0, Troy Brady 0 0-0 0. Totals 20 9-19 57.

EAGLECREST (47)

Elijah Ross 1 1-2 3, Colbey Ross 8 9-11 26, Peter Anderson 3 0-1 7, Anthony Karmazyn 0 1-2 1, Blend Avdili 5 0-0 10, Darian Turner 0 0-0 0, Nate Bokol 0 0-0 0, Tyler Rawlins 0 0-0 0, Kody Bitterman 0 0-0 0, Matt White 0 0-0 0. Totals 17 11-16 47.

3-point field goals — ThunderRidge (8): Noah Szilagyi 4, Nick Varto 2, Austin Mueller, Clay Verk; Eaglecrest (2): Peter Anderson, Colbey Ross. Total fouls — ThunderRidge 14, Eaglecrest 19. Fouled out — Eaglecrest: Elijah Ross. Technical fouls — None.