Chaparral Earns First State Title Ever in Epic Season Finale

By Zach CohnCreated: 03.11.2012 - 6:33 am mtMile High Hoops

BOULDER—Mile high hoops fans across Colorado will be talking about the 2012 boys 5A state championship game for years to come.  It truly was an instant classic.

The Chaparral Wolverines defeated the Arapahoe Warriors 69-67 in an overtime barn-burner to capture the program’s first-ever state title. This game, which had more twists and turns than the Colorado River, featured an epic conclusion that forced the 10,841 fans at the Coors Event Center in Boulder to drop their jaws to the ground.

With just seconds left in overtime and the game locked at 67, Chaparral’s senior sensation Cory Calvert launched a deep three. It clanked off the back rim and it appeared as if the game was headed to another overtime. But in the blink of an eye, Josh Adams – Chaparral’s other senior sensation – soared nears the rim, deftly tipped the ball with his left hand, and watched it bank in off the backboard exactly as time expired.

It was a buzzer beater tip-in to win a state championship. It doesn’t get any better than that.

“The perfect ending of my high school career. I could not have pictured it any better,” said Adams, who created a basketball moment that he, and everyone else that was in the arena, will never forget.

“I put everything I had into that jump and fortunately it paid off. We left our hearts on the floor. We got the goal,” said Adams.

“Josh is a freak. That’s all you can say,” said Chaparral’s Reece Elliot, who had 16 points and was an impressive 4 of 5 from three-point land. “He can jump over anyone. Everyone knew Cory was going to shoot it so that’s why Josh was crashing. Josh made a heck of a play and it was a great ending.”

Not only did the state title game have a great ending, but the entire contest was wildly entertaining.

Chaparral controlled the tempo throughout the first half with their superior guard play and lights-out long range shooting. Adams had a highlight reel two handed slam on a coast-to-coast drive that put the Wolverines up 38-27.   Going into halftime, Chaparral led 38-30, shooting 66 percent from the field and a ridiculous 71 percent from beyond the three-point arc.

But the Warriors, who have been the state’s most resilient team all season long, would not go down without a fight. They battled back in the third quarter, including a 12-0 scoring spurt, and were trailing 44-48 going into the fourth quarter.

“Arapahoe is very good. So balanced. They are a very good third-quarter team,” said Chaparral head coach Rob Johnson. “I didn’t know if we could ever stop Jensen on the inside and Kocur on the perimeter.”

Shane Jensen and Zach Kocur were a crucial reason the Warriors continued to hang around. Both senior leaders had monster performances. Jensen had 29 points, seven rebounds, and played all 36 minutes of the game. Kocur had 26 points, six rebounds, and did an admirable job defending Calvert all night.

Arapahoe was also able to make a late third quarter run because Adams was relegated to the bench. He picked up his fourth foul with just under two minutes left in the quarter. He came back early in the fourth and precariously played with four fouls the rest of the way.

The intensity of the game reached a fever pitch in the fourth quarter, with everyone dangling on the edge of his or her seats. The final moments of the game are worth reliving.

Adams had a steal and dunk to put the Wolverines up 56-51 with less than four minutes left.  But two Jensen free throws and a Kocur three pointer cut the deficit to 57-56 with 2:30 remaining.

Arapahoe’s defense then caused a Calvert turnover. On the next play Jensen was called for a charge. But then Adam’s made a bad pass and gave it right back to Arapahoe, and the drama continued to build.

With less than a minute left, Jensen put Arapahoe up 58-57 with a nifty post move, but Calvert countered by making it to the free line. Calvert, who had 17 points and was a perfect 9 of 9 from the free throw stripe, drained both pressure packed shots and put Chaparral up 59-57.

With just 22 seconds left, Arapahoe point guard Jack Bobzien knifed in the lane, created contact, drew a foul, and banked in an acrobatic lay-up. He then swished his free throw to put the Warriors up 61-59 with less than ten seconds left.

On the ensuing possession, after a Chaparral timeout, Adams raced the length of the court looking to score. But three Warriors smothered Adams and he was forced to awkwardly pass the ball to Will Keyser on the baseline. With just seconds left, Keyser gathered the ball with his back to the basket, and nailed a short turn-around jumper, sending the game into overtime. It was bonus basketball in the last game of the season.

“Josh passed it to me. I tipped it and was like, oh gosh, where is the basket? I turned around, floated it up there, saw it go in, and my heart just rose through the roof,” said Keyser, who had 11 points on the night, none more important that those final two.

Overtime was just as crazy as regulation.

Calvert came out with a killer instinct, scored on two sweet drives, knocked down two more clutch free throws, and put his team up 67-64, with less than 30 seconds left.

“I knew we needed some buckets so I just thought I would be aggressive and get some shots to the rim,” said Calvert.

That’s when most people thought Chaparral finally had things locked up. They thought wrong.

Arapahoe’s Taven Sparks got fouled and earned two free throws. He made the first, but missed the second. Zach Kocur was Johnny-on-the-spot, grabbed the offensive rebound, converted a lay-up, and amazingly tied the game once again with just seconds left on the clock.

“We’re up 3 and I was just begging to hold on to that lead and we couldn’t do it,” said Coach Johnson.

On the next possession Calvert heaved his potential game-winner, and that’s when Adams swooped in for the tip-in that he will remember for the rest of his life.

“There is nothing I can say to express how that felt. I have been waiting for this moment my entire life, my entire basketball career. That’s the play I have been dreaming about. A last second shot, and I got it. We got it. Chap got state,” said Adams, who had 19 points and seven rebounds, leading his team in both statistical categories.

“It’s a pretty amazing feeling. Just an up and down game the whole way. Josh just made an awesome play. It feels great,” said Calvert. “There are a lot of emotions. It’s hard to even believe that all this hard work has finally paid off and we got the state championship. It’s amazing. This is the ultimate way to end it. It’s awesome.”

Coach Johnson elaborated on what this state title means to his team.

“With the seniors that we got and the good group of guys that we got, it’s what they deserve. What our school deserves. Our coaching staff has worked so hard for this and that’s what we are here for,” said Johnson.

“I hope we can come back and repeat that performance. Fun night.”

A fun night indeed coach. But it might be a tough task to repeat that performance, because that was literally one of the best high school basketball games the state of Colorado has ever witnessed.

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