Is it any wonder why the Coors Events Center attracts respectable — and sometimes outstanding — crowds for the 4A and 5A state basketball Final Four?
Undoubtedly the biggest reason is the consistent presence of local teams in the semifinals and finals. Monarch, located less than 10 miles from the University of Colorado’s arena, helped Friday night’s 5A girls championship game draw 4,741 — 744 more than last year. Legacy, about 15 miles from CU, brought a decent-sized contingent as well as the Lightning defeated MHS 58-51 for the first state title in program history.
Monarch’s trip back to the Events Center meant that for every year from 2007 to the present, there’s been representation in both the girls and boys Final Four at CU from a Boulder Valley or Boulder County school.
And you can go even further on the girls side. In the last six seasons, 10 Boulder Valley or Boulder County teams have made it to the state championship game. That list includes Broomfield (five times), Monarch (twice), Longmont (twice) and Silver Creek (once).
On the boys end, two of the last three 5A finals have featured a Boulder team, with Fairview finishing second in 2010 and Boulder the runner-up last year.
The 4A and 5A boys and girls Final Fours have been held at the Coors Events Center since 2004. Only one semifinal session held since then — on the girls side in 2006 — has been lacking a team from Boulder Valley or Boulder County.
Eisler Faces Former Teammates
There was plenty at stake for both teams Friday, but no one had quite the emotions of Monarch junior Jordan Eisler, who played last season for Legacy before transferring.
“I wanted it so bad for our seniors (Division I-bound Alexus Johnson, Ashton Davis and Rebecca Richmond),” said Eisler, who scored 10 points against her former team. “They’ve worked so hard for four years. It sucks. I’ve only been here one year, but I love them to death. It’s going to be sad to see them go.
“But I just want to say congratulations to (Legacy). They’re a great team.”
During the Monarch seniors’ high school careers, the Coyotes finished second in state twice and had their seasons end in the semifinals and quarterfinals once each.
No strangers to finals
Like Monarch, Legacy has had an enviable Final Four run in recent years. From 2007 to the present, the Lightning has advanced to the 5A state title game three times, winning it all on Friday. In other trips to the finals, Legacy lost to Highlands Ranch in 2007 and to Denver East in 2010.
The Lightning proved to be the cardiac kids in this year’s stretch run, winning its final four state tournament games by 4, 2, 3 and 7 points.
After losing three straight games to Monarch, Legacy notched a win in the biggest contest of the season. Over the six years, the teams are 7-7 against one another. The Lightning has beaten MHS twice in the Final Four — in the 2010 semifinals and on Friday.
“It’s such a big deal” to overcome LHS’ Front Range League rival, said Kailey Edwards, who led Legacy with 20 points. “We play Monarch twice each year, so we knew it was going to be a big game. But luckily we came out on top. It was awesome.”
Three of Legacy’s four losses this season came at the hands of Boulder Valley teams. The Lightning fell to Monarch twice and to Fairview once. … Friday ended MHS’ 12-game win streak. … Monarch junior Jac Malcolm-Peck, whose sisters Meagan and Brenna play for CU at the Coors Events Center, struggled in her turn on the court Friday. With Meagan and Brenna — and some other CU players — cheering on Monarch, Jac went scoreless and missed all seven of her field-goal attempts in 16 minutes of action.