DENVER — The ending was different this time around for Longmont and head boys basketball coach Jeff Kloster, but the parting message was the same.
Lewis-Palmer's Joel Scott heaved the ball up to the lights at the Denver Coliseum as the clock struck zero on the Trojans' bid to soar atop the high school basketball world for a second straight year.
In defeat, Cade Kloster, the coach's 25-year-old son and second-year assistant coach for the Trojans, tightly embraced his dad and boss.
"I just wanted to tell him how much I love him and how much respect I have for him," Cade said. "That's the most important thing."
It was the same sentiment they shared on the court a year ago when Longmont beat the Rangers 62-59 to give Kloster his first state title. It's the same thing the Trojans' players and coaches expressed to one another on their way out Saturday afternoon.
"We all have love for each other," Cade said. "That was the constant thing with the players, just how much we told each other we love each other. We have great relationships."
It's quite an environment his dad has been able to maintain at Longmont for the last quarter of a century. More than the 447 wins, the eight Final Four appearances or the four state title games, it's always been about relationships and character.
"I could talk about his basketball knowledge but it's really the fact that he loves us so much," said senior Oakley Dehning, who hit the game-winning 3 in the title game 12 months ago. "He cares so much about each and every one of us as a person more than as a player. I think when you realize how much he loves us, how much he loves the game of basketball, it's contagious in the program."
It certainly stuck with his son, too.
As if destined, Cade was born around the same time his dad took over the program. He was in the locker room with his dad's early teams in the late 90s and as a player (2007-2011) when he delighted the community with a silky smooth shooting stroke. He graduated as the program's all-time leading scorer.
Then, after a standout career at Fort Lewis College, where he received all-conference recognition, he returned to his dad's side to teach and coach.
"It's been such a blessing these past two years to work under him," Cade said. "He's an unbelievable mentor, giving me a lot of confidence in my coaching and showing me a lot of trust in what I bring. He kind of lets me speak freely, and I think the kids see that and the kids have built more trust with both of us. It's been an unbelievable dynamic."
Said Jeff: "I'm the old dog and he's the pup that they listen to.
"He understands the way they think ... and because of that, it became a tight-knit group between coaches and players. And that dynamic is so important because what it does is bring that commitment to each other and that belief in each other."
As the rematch unfolded between a pair of teams who entered the final day a perfect 54-0 combined, Cade sat in the first chair on the Trojans' bench while his dad paced back-and-forth in front.
The task at hand was steep — beating a hungry Lewis-Palmer, which blew out team after team a year since being spectator to the Trojans' 2018 celebration. And in what turned into an emotionally-charged, this-way, that-way game of runs, the Klosters directed from the sideline and the players obliged with discipline.
They fell 57-52.
Afterward, like father, like son, the two beamed about their players.
"Best senior class we've ever had at Longmont," Cade said. "And that includes mine, any other class I would say. These guys are special."