By Tom Barry
The Arapahoe High School boys’ hoopsters were once again on their way to the Big Dance last week.
On March 6, the Warriors embarked on a trip to Fort Collins to play Fossil Ridge. Arapahoe had just come of a major win the previous weekend against a higher seed Columbine team and felt good about their abilities and capabilities.
In a game that went back and forth like a pingpong match, both teams put on quite the show for the fans that had come together at the near new facility in Northern Colorado.
Fossil Ridge a great close game
Arapahoe led by four points at the end of the first period. Fossil Ridge bested their competitor by three points in the second. Throughout the second half the score was neck and neck.
“It was a great game and close throughout,” said Arapahoe’s head coach Dan Snyder. “We had a nine point lead with two minutes remaining and allowed Fossil Ridge to tie up.”
With moments to go in the game and the score tied, the Warriors Mitch Albyn was fouled. With the weight of the world on his shoulder for that brief moment in time, he sunk both shots from the free-throw line.
Arapahoe beat Fossil Ridge 53 to 51 in what ended up as one of the best games of the season.
“We upset another higher seeded team,” said Snyder.
Arapahoe meets Denver East
That victory propelled the Warriors to the Great Eight, also called the Elite Eight.
The Warriors’ players, always a contender with Snyder, and his assistants were slotted to play Denver East, the state’s top-ranked team that only lost two games all season, each to out-of-state teams.
Throughout the season, Rudy Carey’s Denver East team had never met a serious contender from Colorado. Most basketball aficionados familiar with the state tourney did not give Arapahoe a prayer to succeed against the proverbial powerhouse. East had won 15 straight games leading up to the game with Arapahoe.
“We were a huge underdog,” Snyder said.
Before the game the head coach reminded his team, “They are No. 1 for a reason – the pressure is on East and this is why they play the game. Anything can happen.”
The nearly packed Denver Coliseum was wild. The Warriors and the Angels were playing the second of four games, March 8.
“We played so well at halftime we were ahead by eight points,” said Snyder. “Our kids did great.”
East had never been in this type of a predicament since the season started playing Colorado teams.
In the second half, the Angel’s outscored the Warriors by seven and six points in the respective final periods.
“Arapahoe did not execute well and that was the difference in the game,” said Snyder. “We turned the ball over 14 times during the game, 10 of those times in the second half.”
The Warriors shot 9 of 19 free throws in the effort.
In a hard fought game, the Angels beat the Warriors by five points – 60 to 55. Carey, a longtime highly recognized Denver Public Schools coach, attained his 700th basketball victory.
“Our kids gave a great effort representing our team and our school well,” said. “The game came down to the last 10 seconds. We had way to many turnovers and East was the best talent in the state by a long shot.”
In the last five years, Arapahoe has been to the Elite Eight playoff games each year. They have been in the Final Four games twice in that period and once to the championship game.
Arapahoe’s Matt Glasscock will play basketball next season at Ft. Lewis in Durango. Thomas Trotman is narrowing his choices of where to play. Traven Sparks will play quarterback at Pomona next fall, an elite academic school.
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