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By Stephen McKay
Sports Writer 

2015 Colorado Class 1A State Tournament: Peetz pulls stunning upset

Bulldogs win to earn spot in this week's state tourney

 

Stephen McKay

Peetz High's Casey Barrett, left, hands off the state qualifier trophy to Bradey Holtz on Saturday as Garrett Roelle looks on. The Bulldogs start state tournament play on Thursday.

BRUSH, Colo. – Only in first believing, was victory even possible.

By opening their quest for a state championship berth with the simple notion that a supreme effort could win the day, the sixth-seeded Peetz High boys' basketball team scrapped, hustled, dove, crashed into walls, sank critical free throws and shot their way to a 70-63 win over the top-seeded and previously unbeaten Arickaree/Woodlin Indians (21-1) in the Class 1A Region 2, Bracket 1 final at Brush High School on Saturday.

Amid shouts of joy, hugs all around and a standing ovation from the Bulldogs' faithful, Peetz (15-9) qualified for the 2015 Colorado Class 1A Boys' State Championships. For the Dogs, which go in as the No. 8 seed among the eight teams, the task doesn't get any easier as they open state against No. 1 Sangre De Cristo (22-0) Thunderbirds of Mosca at the Budweiser Events Center in Loveland on Thursday at 1:15 p.m.

This is Peetz's first trip to the state tournament since 2008. The school's only state basketball title came back in 1962.

"We all knew how hard it was going to be against what I think is the most athletic team we've seen all year – and big too," said Bulldogs' head coach Jim Gardiner. "Kudos to these guys and how they got it done. They worked their hearts off out there. I'm really speechless just thinking about the effort these guys gave."

Going into the state qualifier on Saturday, the Indians weren't just used to winning, they were used to winning big. Over their previous 20 games, no team had even managed to even get within double digits of the Indians on the scoreboard.

During the course of the season, Arickaree/Woodlin outpointed their opponents by nearly a 2-to-1 margin. Adding to the challenge, the Indians were bigger than Peetz at nearly every position.

"Like coach said before the game, we had to believe first," said senior Casey Barrett, who reached state for the first time in his high school career. "All year we've played some tough teams like Prairie and Fleming and Caliche and those good Nebraska teams. Playing all those good teams really made us so much better.

"I've been playing basketball since I was in the fifth grade and now we're going to state. I don't know what to say about that. I'm absolutely speechless," Barrett added.

But Barrett and his teammates did most of their talking on the court. Barrett was first heard from 19 seconds into the contest when he answered Justin McCaffrey's opening two pointer with a 3-pointer from the right corner.

Though the Indians' McCaffrey didn't know it at the time, his short jumper 13 seconds earlier had given Arickaree/Woodlin its largest lead of the game. The Indians led 2-0, 14-12 and 14-13 before Barrett put the Bulldogs ahead to stay with a short jumper 31 ticks shy of the first-quarter buzzer.

Though Peetz never trailed again, it also never held a lead larger than single digits until late in the final quarter. Back-to-back baskets by Cody Wilson and Logan Sircy gave the Dogs their nine-point edge late in the first half before the Indians cut the margin to 33-26 at halftime.

"The coaches gave us kind of a run down on their players and that's about all we knew about them," said Wilson, who led the team in rebounds (11) and steals (5). "We all worked so hard and believed we could do it just like coach said."

Though never quite able to get over the hump, the Indians made several runs at Peetz, but the Bulldogs always had an answer. The margin was just three points at 35-32 in the third quarter when Wilson drained the first of his two treys. When the Indians crept to within one at 40-39, it was Bradey Holtz who found the twine from downtown.

Whether it was one of the starting five of Wilson, Barrett, Holtz, Sircy or Garrin Cox, there was always a Bulldogs player ready to step up for a bucket, a rebound or dive for a loose ball. When one of the starters needed a rest, Brian Roelle and Jordan Nelson came in and the team never missed a beat.Nelson hit two big buckets late in the third. Earlier in that period, Roelle converted a Holtz pass to stretch a slim Bulldogs' lead.

Twice in the fourth quarter, the Indians narrowed the gap to two or fewer. A 55-54 contest quickly turned into a 57-54 affair after Barrett floated through the lane for a deuce. When it was 49-47, Cox converted a dart of a pass from Wilson for a 51-47 advantage.

Beyond their scrap and hustle, Peetz ultimately won the game with its work from the free-throw line over the final eight minutes. The Bulldogs went an impressive 15 for 17 from the line in the fourth quarter, including 6 for 6 by Holtz.

"We worked on hitting free throws all year long so that we could hit them now," Holtz said. "We knew we needed to keep our level of intensity up all game and we did. This is pretty special for all of us."

Barrett led the team with 23 points, with Wilson adding 14. Sircy and Holtz each contributed nine apiece. Besides Wilson's 11 rebounds, Holtz grabbed nine and Cox five. Holtz and Sircy had three steals to back up Wilson's five. Holtz led the team in assists with six, while Wilson added five and Sircy dished off four.

The Bulldogs defeated Flagler 71-59 on Friday in Brush to earn a spot in Saturday's state qualifier.

COLORADO CLASS 1A STATE TOURNAMENT

Thursday, March 12

At Budweiser Events Center, Loveland

No. 3 Jim Elliott Christian (21-2) vs. No. 6 South Baca (18-3), 10:15 a.m.

No. 1 Sangre de Cristo (22-0) vs. No. 8 Peetz (15-9), 1:15 p.m.

No. 4 Ouray (18-3) vs. No. 5 Fleming (17-4), 5:30 p.m.

No. 2 Holly (19-3) vs. No. 7 Prairie (16-7), 8:30 p.m.

Friday, March 13

At Budweiser Events Center, Loveland

Semfinals

Sangre de Cristo-Peetz winner vs. Ouray-Fleming winner, 5:30 p.m.

Stephen McKay

Peetz's Casey Barrett gets his team fired up during a late timeout in Saturday's victory that secured a state tournament berth.

Jim Elliott Christian-South Baca winner vs. Holly-Prairie winner, 8:30 p.m.

Consolation

Sangre de Cristo-Peetz loser vs. Ouray-Fleming loser, 10:15 a.m.

im Elliott Christian-South Baca loser vs. Holly-Prairie loser, 1:15 p.m.

Saturday, March 14

At Budweiser Events Center, Loveland

5th-place Game, 11:30 a.m.

3rd-place Game, 4 p.m.

Championship Game, 7 p.m.

 

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