Vista PEAK boys basketball coach Keenon Clement, center, gives instructions to his team during the Bison’s game against Hinkley on Feb. 18, 2021. Due to a positive COVID-19 test for one of the players, Vista PEAK’s season ended at 8-3. (Photo by Courtney Oakes/Sentinel Colorado)

AURORA | In a cruel twist of coronavirus-related fate, the Vista PEAK boys basketball team won’t get to determine how its season ends on the court.

Coach Keenon Clement’s Bison had been rolling of late and owned a share of the lead in the EMAC standings with a big game with Rangeview ahead at the end of the final week of the regular season, only to be stopped abruptly by COVID-19.

A minute before tip-off of its game with Lakewood Monday night, Vista PEAK had to come off the court after a positive COVID-19 test came back from one of its players in the latest round of testing as mandated by Aurora Public Schools for participation this season (story).

The Vista PEAK players took their bi-monthly tests Friday and the positive result came in via email Monday evening, with Sullivan getting the notification as the pre-game introductions were getting underway. The teams were removed from the floor and the game canceled. Sullivan explored every avenue of appeal Tuesday to no avail.

“It’s is a punch in the gut to the program and our school to be honest,” Sullivan told the Sentinel. “Talking to the kids after the game last night was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do as an athletic director. Today has been a very difficult day because you want to do what is best for the kids. It’s already been such a difficult year for them.

“Our kids and coaches have done everything right, our parents have done everything right,” he added. “From the testing we have to do to, the protocols we follow on a daily basis and creating our own little circles within our families. COVID is a situation where you can do everything right and still get punched. It’s awful.”

The mandatory 14-day quarantine for the entire team that comes with the positive test means Vista PEAK misses its final three games (Lakewood, Brighton and Rangeview) and will be unable to participate in the upcoming Class 5A state playoffs. The Bison played Prairie View on Friday and Bear Creek on Saturday, meaning both teams should be subject to season-ending quarantine as well.

Vista PEAK was on the bubble of the 32-team playoff field — which is determined by the Colorado High School Activities Association using four, equally-weighted data points (5A RPI, CHSAA Coaches Poll, MaxPreps Rankings and Packard Rankings) — but felt good about their chances. At 8-3, Vista PEAK is currently No. 34 in the 5A RPI standings, ranked No. 27 in the MaxPreps Rankings, 30th in the Packard Rankings and received a vote in the March 1 Coaches Poll.

The Bison also had a chance to secure an automatic berth if it had been able to beat undefeated Rangeview Saturday in a game that would have determined the EMAC champion.

Vista PEAK had one of the highest-scoring backcourt duos in the state in seniors Curtis Stovall III and Jaylen Carrizales, who averaged 18.6 and 18.5 points per game, respectively.

Vista PEAK is the first Aurora basketball program to have its season ended early, but the Overland boys and Regis Jesuit girls programs both are currently in quarantine.

The Raiders — who firmly have a spot in the 5A playoffs secured — will be able to return for their regular season finale Friday against Chaparral, while the Trailblazers can come back the day before the start of the 5A playoffs if they qualify.

Courtney Oakes is Sentinel Colorado Sports Editor. Reach him at [email protected] Twitter: @aurorasports. IG: Sentinel Prep Sports