Rangeview Edges Creek, Punches Ticket to Boulder
The Rangeview Raiders have punched their ticket to Boulder, narrowly escaping with a 47-46 victory over the Cherry Creek Bruins in the Elite Eight Friday night.
It appeared as though the 4th seeded Raiders were going to coast to victory over the 3rd seeded Bruins. They were leading 47-42 with two minutes left and had possession of the ball. That’s when things got interesting.
A darting Rangeview Raider was called for an offensive foul. Rangeview head coach Shawn Palmer vehemently argued the call, and stormed outside the confines of his coaching box. Because he had already been warned, the referees issued a pivotal technical foul. Cherry Creek was awarded two fouls shots and the ball.
Creek’s Matt Ratiner, who led with Bruins with 17 points, calmly swished both free throws. Creek then scored again after the free throws, cutting the Raider’s lead to 47-46, with just over a minute remaining.
The rest of the contest was characterized by lockdown defense. Nobody scored the rest of the way. With just seconds remaining, Creek had a chance for an epic buzzer beater. But Raider sophomore Trey Bridges clamped down on Creek’s Nick Gauna, and didn’t let him get a good look. Gauna’s attempt was on line, but fell short, and the Raider bench then rushed the court in elation.
“I didn’t want to let my team down. Coach told me to get a big stop, so that’s why I came through for the team,” said Bridges about his solid defense on the last play.
“I’m just glad my technical foul didn’t cost us the game. I have been asking these guys to keep their composure all season long and then I had the moment of weakness and I’m glad we still get to play next week,” said a relieved Coach Palmer, in his ninth season as the Raider’s head coach.
This will be Coach Palmer’s first trip to the Final Four.
“This means a lot. I’m so proud of these kids and I couldn’t be any happier for the school and the fans. We got a great group of guys.”
The game did not start well for Rangeview. Early on, they were throwing up enough bricks to build a house. They trailed 7-2 after the first quarter, and 18-15 at the break. They shot a dreadful 29 percent from the field in the first half. Their defense kept them in the game, however. Cherry Creek was also ice cold from the field, only making 24 percent of their shots in the first half.
“We were a little passive and we trying to do too much early on in the game. We found a way to keep our composure, to keep everybody involved, and just get the tempo up a little bit more. I knew we were going to make some shots that we were missing in the first half. It was just a matter of time,” said Coach Palmer.
The second half was a different story, as Rangeview was able to find their offensive groove. They shot 64 percent from the field in the final two quarters.
“We just started playing. Getting up and down the court. Running how we are supposed to do,” said Bridges, who had nine points.
Jeremiah Page led the way for Raiders with 16 points, 11 in the second half.
Palmer was ecstatic about the victory, but realizes there is still work to be done.
“I’ll enjoy it tonight. And I’ll start worrying about Arapahoe tomorrow,” said Coach Palmer.
Rangeview (22-4) is going back to their first final four since the mid 90’s.
“Were hyped. Were ready to play. We want to get to the state championship. We haven’t been here in forever, so I am excited. We are all excited,” said Bridges.
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