DENVER – The combination of too much Air Academy muscle inside, 23, second-chance points and 27 points from Corbin Garver was too much for Frederick's Golden Eagles in the semifinals of the state 5A boys basketball tournament.
The Kadets won the March 10 game at the Denver Coliseum 74-59.
Grant Featherstone wound up with 15 points. Max Howery tossed in 12, and Noah Hellem added 10. Luke Justice and Matias Aldana led the Golden Eagles with 17 points.
FHS started strong. The Golden Eagles had a 12-5 lead at one stage of the first quarter. But Luke Justice tweaked an ankle injury -- he sprained it during practice before the elite 8 round -- and things seemed to unravel from there. The Kadets outscored Frederick 23-14 in the second quarter to take over control of the game.
“I couldn’t turn. I couldn’t use my jab step,” Justice said. “When I shot it, I thought it was holding me down.”
“We worked hard,” Aldana said. “It’s tough to lose with someone like him (Justice) not being able to play to his full potential. It was close late in the third quarter. We slacked off on the defense rebounding. And shots we normally make weren’t falling. We were 2-for-17 from three (3-point area) in the first half. That hurt us a little bit.”
The biggest issue for Frederick in the second half – aside from hot shooting by the Kadets (58 percent from the floor in the third quarter) – was the point production from Garver. He scored his 27 points through three quarters, including three from 3-point range.
“When our team can come together, we can get the job done,” Garver said. “If we can trust ourselves to come together, we will get the job done.”
“That’s what I love about these kids. I don’t know who’s going to score,” said Kadets coach Barry Clark. “But they figure it out by the end.
Frederick, which finished with a mark of 25-2, loses eight seniors – Isaiah Ortega, Micah Wittler, Rylan Cram, Harry Singh, Jacob Lovins, Justice, Soren and Aldana to graduation.
“The kids battled. They worked their butts off,” FHS coach Jeff Conway said. “We hit a few shots. But Air Academy is a good team. They shoot the ball well, too. They killed us off the boards. We worked on blocking and rebounding all week. But we didn’t do a good job.”