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Denver East holds off Douglas County to return to Class 5A Final Four for first time since 2015


Denver East took the long road back to the Final Four, seven years removed from the stage as a Class 5A powerhouse.

The Angels beat a gritty Douglas County team 68-57 on Saturday at the Denver Coliseum to book their return to the final weekend of the tournament. Denver East’s star point guard, senior Quis Davis, poured in 22 points while junior D’Aundre Samuels added a double-double (15 points, 10 rebounds) and 6-foot-8 senior forward Aguir Dawam had 12 points.

“We broke the curse by getting back in the Final Four where this program belongs,” Davis said. “We’ve been down a lot in games this season, we’ve been in fights, but we just stayed together. We’re an unselfish, balanced team that just wants to win.”

For Davis and Dawam, the Great 8 victory was made more emotional by their own winding, adversity-laden journey to the biggest stage in Colorado high school basketball.

Davis’ father passed away from cancer a week before the season started, and the Ohio native missed 11 games with an ankle sprain this year while also playing on a torn MCL in his knee. Meanwhile, Dawam traveled from the South Sudan (where he’s originally from) to Melbourne, Australia, to Denver East, where he began playing last season.

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Both players were critical in the Angels holding off Douglas County, a team they beat by 37 points earlier in the season. Senior guards Ty Nettles (17 points) and Jaeton Hackley (14 points) paced the Huskies, who gave Denver East all it could handle with the game tied late in the third quarter.

But the Angels owned the final frame, 19-12, en route to the double-digit victory that secured the Angels’ 12th Final Four appearance under head coach Rudy Carey.

“We had to maintain our composure, and that got tested at times,” Carey said. “This is a new venue for our kids, we’re getting used to this venue. (Douglas County) is a quality team and when they came in waves, we didn’t blink.”

Carey, who is now five wins from breaking Dick Katte’s all-time record of 876, is tied for the most state titles in Colorado basketball history at nine with Ron Vlasin (Merino/Littleton). His Angels weathered numerous momentum shifts throughout the second half, but in the end, the Huskies shooters went cold and Hackley fouled out with 3:31 left in the fourth quarter.

“We had to close the perimeter out, and they couldn’t score anymore,” Dawam said. “We kept our cool and we kept on hooping. We knew if we locked in on defense, we’d be good, and that’s what happened.”

Denver East, the Denver Prep League champions, improved to 24-2. Douglas County finished 21-4, with all of their losses coming to Great 8 qualifiers (Denver East twice, ThunderRidge and Rock Canyon). The Angels take on the winner of ThunderRidge and Rock Canyon in the Final Four; Denver East’s last title came in 2014 with a 70-49 victory over Fossil Ridge.

“We can’t get too excited,” an emotional Davis said, “because the job’s not done yet.”

Article Source and Credit denverpost.com https://www.denverpost.com/2022/03/05/denver-east-beats-douglas-county-class-5a-great-8/ Buy Tickets for every event – Sports, Concerts, Festivals and more buytickets.com


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