CENTENNIAL | It had been just four short years ago, so the scene Tuesday morning at Eaglecrest High School looked quite familiar to John Olander.
The outgoing Eaglecrest boys basketball coach and his players were honored at an energetic pep assembly for winning the Class 5A state championship, as they had been at the conclusion of the 2012-13 season when the program won its first state championship.
Olander was able to revel in Tuesday’s ceremony a little bit more as it capped a surge of enthusiasm in the wake of the Raptors’ 53-47 victory over George Washington on March 11 at the Denver Coliseum.
“Two is definitely better than one,” Olander said afterwards. “I think I was able to soak this one all in. The first one, you are in awe that it actually happened, so the second time you maybe get to enjoy it a little more.”
Olander said a short film put together by Eaglecrest’s student media that played on a large screen gave him “goosebumps” as he relived his team’s epic journey to the state championship.
The Eaglecrest coaching staff and players received the school’s excellence medals from principal Gwen Hansen-Vigil, with the last one going to senior Colbey Ross, a star guard who was honored with his second consecutive Colorado Gatorade Player of the Year award on Monday.
The team’s six seniors — Ross, Austin Forsberg, Ikenna Ozor, Nate Bokol, Joshua Walton and Jayme Rich — then got to cut down a strand of the nets on one of the gymnasium hoops (NCAA style), with Olander making the final cut to the delight of a packed house.
The team’s underclassmen then removed the covering over a brand new state championship banner on the wall — a special rush job by athletic director Vince Orlando to get it done in time — and the school’s highly-regarded band sent everyone out with their rendition of “All I Do Is Win” by DJ Khaled, a song that rang out repeatedly during the title run.
Ross was blown away by the turnout, which matched the energy the Eaglecrest crowd had in the stands at the Denver Coliseum during the Raptors’ Great 8 (over Denver East), Final Four (over Rock Canyon) and championship game victories.
“We have so much support with every sport here,” Ross said. “It’s been great to play in front of the crowds I’ve played in front of for four years, so I just can’t thank the students enough. Everybody has so much pride and energy here and it shows.”
Ozor said his phone seemingly hasn’t stopped blowing up with congratulations and team has felt the student body with it the entire way.
“You never really get a good sense of how much support you really have until something like this,” Ozor said.
“I feel like Eaglecrest is something special. It’s in our motto, “We are Eaglecrest and we are proud.'”
Courtney Oakes is Aurora Sentinel Sports Editor. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or [email protected] Twitter: @aurorasports. FB: Aurora Prep Sentinel