ThunderRidge, Lutheran take boys hoops titles

Jim Benton
jbenton@Col oradoCommunityMedia.com
Posted 3/30/21

ThunderRidge used a second quarter surge to claim its first state basketball boys title in almost 20 years and Lutheran’s third quarter performance domination in the Lions’ first Class 3A boys …

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ThunderRidge, Lutheran take boys hoops titles

Posted

ThunderRidge used a second quarter surge to claim its first state basketball boys title in almost 20 years and Lutheran’s third quarter performance domination in the Lions’ first Class 3A boys championship celebration as a Parker school.

The Grizzlies (13-2) outscored George Washington 15-4 in the second quarter and went on to record to a 68-59 Class 5A victory on March 21 at the Broadmoor World Arena which was the first  state championship since capturing back-to-back crowns in  2002 and 2003.

Lutheran used a 12-0 run to start the third period and outscored the top-seed and previously unbeaten St. Mary’s 25-5 to roll to a 72-56 romp in the Class 3A championship game on March 21. It was the first state title for Lutheran (16-1) since the school split with Denver Lutheran and moved to the Parker campus.

ThunderRidge (13-2) has a history of excellent teams and prevailed 66-64 in overtime over top-seed and undefeated Cherry Creek in the semifinals before reaching the finals to claim the school’s fifth state basketball championship.

“It means the world to win it,” said ThunderRidge coach Joe Ortiz after the victory. “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve thought about that. It ended with a storybook finish. We’ve been to eight other final fours, five other finals so, yeah, it’s nice.”

The Grizzlies were tied after the first period against the Patriots who had split a pair of games against ThunderRidge during the regular season. They opened the second stanza with an 8-0 run and outscored GW 15-4 during the eight minutes. Jackson Brennan, who finished with 11 points, had six points during the second period surge.

“We were on a dry spell and came here to break it,” said Jason Simental who had 16 points in ThunderRidge’s balanced offensive attack.

Nolan Marold, a 6-foot-6 senior, paced the Grizzlies with a double double of 15 points and 10 rebounds.

Senior guard Tommy Apodaca was the ringleader for Lutheran with nine of his game-high 22 points coming in the third quarter when the Lions started with a 12-0 run and outscored the Pirates 25-5 to take command of the game.

Lutheran trailed 27-24 at halftime.

“We just knew we needed to apt up our pressure and take control,” said Apodaca. “They are a great defensive team to we had to control it and make our shots. I could feel it in the third quarter. My ankle was hurting real bad but I had to come out and do what the team needed.

“Once we got into a flow we knew we had it and knew they were not going to be able to stop us.”

Lions coach Bill Brandsma could fee the change in the second half.

“We had to control tempo and not turn the ball over and we didn’t do a good job of that in the first half,” said Brandsma. “We talked at halftime we had to finish when we go to the rim. We were up six or eight in the first half and they came back and took the lead.

For us the second half was about owning the ball and not turning it over. It was a weird season. Six weeks ago, I said. ‘God, the outcome is in your hands’. I just coached these guys and this just capped it off.”

Apodaca made five of nine three-point shots and was one of four Lutheran players in double figures.

Mamadou Sow, a 6-8 senior, had 16 points and a double double with 10 rebounds. Sam Hoops had 12 points and 10 rebounds while 6-11 sophomore Baye Fall, who had the defensive assignment against St. Mary’s top scorer and point guard Sam Howery, added 10 points and 11 rebounds.

Howery had 20 points to pace St. Mary’s.

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