AURORA | There aren’t many spots on the basketball floor where TaRea Fulcher doesn’t feel like he can make a shot and he got to the perfect one Saturday night.
The Regis Jesuit senior guard took the inbounds pass, sped up the floor in a tie game with the final seconds of regulation running off the clock and let fly a 3-pointer that nestled into the net and unleashed pandemonium.
Fulcher’s buzzer-beater gave him seven of his game-high 22 points inside the final minute as he helped rally the seventh-seeded Raiders to a 65-62 victory over visiting Highlands Ranch in a Class 6A Sweet 16 thriller. The 10th-seeded Falcons had tied the score seconds before Fulcher’s heroics, which sent Regis Jesuit back to the Great 8 after a Sweet 16 loss last season.
“They hit a good shot and I looked up at the clock and I saw that we had about six or seven seconds and I knew I could get to the spot I wanted to get to,” said Fulcher, who launched his shot while at full speed. “Once I got there, I just let it go. We had nothing to lose really, so it was just push hard, try to get a good look and we did.”
Coach Ken Shaw’s seventh-seeded Regis Jesuit team (19-6) won its ninth straight game (which included another three-point win over Highlands Ranch in Continental League play Feb. 7) and will head to the Denver Coliseum March 4 to face another Continental League team, No. 2 Rock Canyon in a game scheduled for 8:30 p.m.
Junior Damarius Taylor added 14 points and senior Joe Dorais made four of Regis Jesuit’s 10 3-pointers on the day on his way to 12.
Regis Jesuit joins fifth-seeded Smoky Hill — which defeated No. 12 Fruita Monument 77-59 — in representing Aurora in the Great 8. No. 20 Eaglecrest lost to No. 4 Denver East 80-65 in the other 6A Sweet 16 contest involving Aurora area programs.
The Raiders topped Highlands Ranch by three points in the Continental League matchup between the teams, but the Falcons pushed out to a 58-48 lead with a minute off the clock in the fourth quarter.
Consecutive 3-pointers by Dorais and senior Ridley Soro cut the deficit to four, which disappeared on a layup by Taylor and an inside basket by Fulcher. Fulcher scored again after Highlands Ranch had taken the lead, broke the tie with a pair of free throws and then hit the game-winner after JJ Williams had made a short shot to tie with 11 seconds left.
With enough time left on the clock, Shaw is always an advocate to push and try to create something at the end, especially with the guy who ended up with the ball.
“When you get in that situation and you have Rae Fulcher that’s pushing the ball, there aren’t many guys in the state I don’t think that can push and make something out of nothing better than he can,” Shaw said.
Courtney Oakes is Sentinel Colorado Sports Editor. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @aurorasports. IG: Sentinel Prep Sports
(7) REGIS JESUIT 65, (10) HIGHLANDS RANCH 62
Score by quarters:
High. Ranch 19 23 13 7 — 62
Regis Jesuit 18 25 4 18 — 65
HIGHLANDS RANCH (62)
Aiden Krusoe 3 3-4 9, Jeremy Jacob 6 0-2 12, Jack Bakken 6 0-0 15, Isaac Engle 2 0-0 4, T Travis Bray 2 3-6 9, JJ Williams 4 1-2 11, Payton Tereick 0 0-0 0. Totals 23 7-14 62.
REGIS JESUIT (65)
Nick Frontz 1 1-2 3, TaRea Fulcher 8 4-5 22, Joe Dorais 4 0-0 12, Damarius Taylor 5 3-4 14, Ridley Soro 2 1-2 6, Alec Roumph 2 0-0 6, Zach Poland 1 0-0 2, Eric Fielder 0 0-1 0. Totals 23 9-14 65.
3-point field goals — Highlands Ranch (7): J. Bakken 3, T. Bray 2, JJ Williams 2. Regis Jesuit (10): Joe Dorais 4, Roumph 2, TaRea Fulcher 2, Ridley Soro, Damarius Taylor. Total fouls — Highlands Ranch 17, Regis Jesuit 12. Fouled out — None. Technical fouls — Regis Jesuit: Fulcher.