Arapahoe Earns State Title Berth

By Zach CohnCreated: 03.09.2012 - 4:42 am mtMile High Hoops

BOULDER—The Arapahoe Warriors were decrunzified in the semi-finals of the Final Four a year ago, ending a very successful 2011 season on a very sour note. Regis, last year’s eventual state champion, blew them out of the gym. Times have changed. This year in the semifinals, Arapahoe was the team who did the decrunzifying, routing the Rangeview Raiders 66-41 Thursday night at the Coors Event Center in Boulder.

“We came out with a better mentality this year,” said Arapahoe senior Shane Jensen, who had the awesome stat line of 19 points, seven rebounds, four assists, and four blocks. “We have more experience. We came out ready to play. We had good team work and we took care of business.”

“We didn’t want to have that same feeling from last year,” said fellow Arapahoe senior Zach Kocur, who had 22 points, five rebounds and two assists.

Kocur and Jensen combined for 41 points, equaling the cumulative score total of the entire Rangeview team. They play off each other very well and are a tough duo for any team to defend.

“We have been playing together since the first grade,” said Jensen. “We know each other well. We just go out there and play basketball just like we have our whole lives.”

Arapahoe (25-2) has now won 18 straight games, and are one victory away from the program’s first ever state title.

“Obviously we are ecstatic. To have an opportunity to play for a state championship is very special,” said Arapahoe coach Dan Snyder. “We are very happy with the win and feel very privileged to be playing Saturday night.”

Arapahoe jumped all over Rangeview early, and never looked back. They led by 10 after the first, nine after the second, 20 after the third, and ended up winning by 25.

“In the 3rd quarter we sort of took over the game,” said Coach Snyder, who also was proud of his team’s defensive effort.

“We did a good job tonight of executing our game plan of containing Jeremiah Paige and Gabe Solarin. I think we did that to a pretty good extent.”

Paige only had 10 points and Solarin only had seven.

Arapahoe also did an outstanding job of sharing the ball, tallying 19 assists on 24 made field goals.

Rangeview coach Shawn Palmer was proud of the run his team made to the final four, but was still disappointed with the loss.

“It’s definitely bittersweet to get this close and come away with a game where we feel we didn’t play very well. But I’m really proud of our kids and our seniors especially,” said Coach Palmer.

“It’s a shot making business and we didn’t make shots. And that puts a lot of pressure on your defense against an efficient team like Arapahoe. We were getting good looks but not capitalizing on them so that puts us in a tough spot.”

It is worthy to note that Arapahoe has continued this impressive run even after losing their leading scorer, Tim Hass, to a season ending injury in mid February.

“Tim was the leading scorer in the Centennial league so we lost a player that was averaging over 20 points per game. That’s a dramatic loss. But other kids have stepped up,” said Coach Snyder.

Even without Haas, the Warriors are still playing some of the state’s best basketball.

“We definitely have a lot of momentum, but we just got to play as hard as we can every game. That never changes. We have to have that same mentality. Play as hard as we can and do the things we can control,” said Kocur. “I am super pumped for Saturday.”

Coach Snyder eloquently summed up the gigantic game on the near horizon for his Warriors.

“There’s 32 minutes left in the season and there will be only two teams that will practice tomorrow. Just two. That’s it. Two 5A teams. And we are privileged to be one of them. “There’s only 32 minutes left in the season and I know my kids will give all they got.”

“I am really excited. I have been waiting for this my whole life,” said Jensen.

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