Home Denver News 5A boys basketball: Eaglecrest outlasts Smoky Hill to reach Great 8

5A boys basketball: Eaglecrest outlasts Smoky Hill to reach Great 8

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AURORA — A packed home gymnasium erupted on Wednesday night when the Eaglecrest boys punched their ticket to the Great 8.

The Raptors are flying high after a resilient 67-60 victory over Centennial League foe Smoky Hill in the Sweet 16. No. 6 Eaglecrest advances to face No. 3 Chaparral on Saturday at the Denver Coliseum.

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“I’m just glad that our guys stayed tied together and didn’t panic,” Eaglecrest head coach Jarris Krapcha said. “That’s something that wouldn’t have happened in December. That’s the growth and maturity of this basketball team, especially when we’re relying on some freshmen to make plays. I’m just proud of our kids.”

Eaglecrest senior forward Mostapha El Moutaouakkil led the team in scoring (19) and powered the Raptors to a big advantage. Eaglecrest grew its lead to 17 points early in the third quarter with a flurry of made 3-pointers. But El Moutaouakkil’s foul trouble opened the door for a Smoky Hill comeback.

The Buffaloes kept chipping away, and with five minutes left in regulation, a monster transition dunk from senior guard Terrell Smith cut their deficit to 59-54. Junior guard Rickey Mitchell led Smoky Hill in scoring with 18 points.

But Eaglecrest staved off the late push with several made free throws down the stretch. The Raptors also got a huge performance from a newcomer in this state tournament — freshman guard LaDavian King. He dropped 15 points, including a pair of 3-pointers, with significant playing time in the fourth quarter.

“At first, I was nervous. But I want this,” King said. “We were up big and we knew they were going to come back with momentum. We knew it was going to be a close game. But we just stayed together.”

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Eaglecrest (20-4) is seeking its third boys’ basketball state championship in school history and the first since 2017.

“We finally were able to define some roles and start playing better as a team. Early in the season, there was a lot of individual stuff and freshmen breaking into the lineup,” Krapcha said. “We’ve come together and we’re really guarding people.”

The Eaglecrest mantra is simple as play now begins at the Denver Coliseum.

“Just keep winning,” King said.


Article Source and Credit denverpost.com https://www.denverpost.com/2022/03/02/5a-boys-basketball-eaglecrest-smoky-hill-sweet-16/ Buy Tickets for every event – Sports, Concerts, Festivals and more buytickets.com

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