BROOMFIELD — In order to reach a precipice never before attained by the Shining Mountain boys basketball program, all the Lions had to do was topple a dynasty that recently has been a fixture in the Class 1A state championship game.
It was a tall order, yet one the Lions achieved with relative ease.
Top-seeded Shining Mountain dominated the four-time defending 1A champs from Caliche on Friday night, recording a 64-40 win in a state semifinal showdown at the 1stBank Center. The Lions (23-2) will make their first title game appearance against McClave on Saturday at 5:30 p.m.
“Our kids executed our game plan to the fullest,” Shining Mountain coach Enoch Miller said. “Every single player stepped up. Defensively we were awesome. We held them to one shot almost every trip. (Caliche) gets anywhere from 15 to 30 offensive rebounds every game, and I’m pretty sure we held them to single digits. We just rebounded like champions.”
Caliche recorded the first basket of the game, but after that it was all Lions. Shining Mountain immediately reeled off an 11-0 run and never looked back, taking a 29-14 lead at halftime and extending the advantage to 20 points in the final minute of the third quarter.
The Lions dominated all facets of the contest, holding Caliche to just two field goals in the second quarter while compiling a 14-for-23 mark from the floor during the first half. Shining Mountain was sharp from the opening tip and executed flawlessly, recording points off of five different inbounds plays.
One day after holding Norwood leading scorer Morgan Rummel to eight points, Shining Mountain senior Andrew Bremner once again set the tone defensively, baiting Caliche into three charging fouls in the game’s first 8 minutes. Bremner took four charges overall.
“We’re just confident now,” Bremner said. “We’re a team now. Last year we were broken in some places. This year we’ve worked so hard every single day in the gym. People don’t see what happens in the summer, but for 365 days we’ve been working hard. And that’s showing up right now.”
Four players turned in double-figure scoring efforts in a balanced Lions attack. Senior Colin Cantwell led the way, making 9 of 12 shots to finish with a team-leading 20 points. Bremner recorded 15 points and sophomore Garrett Johnston added 13.
Johnston, normally a 3-point specialist, also exemplified Shining Mountain’s patient and opportunistic approach with his offensive effort Friday. With Caliche’s aggressive man-to-man defense limiting Johnston to just one errant 3-point attempt early in the first quarter, the sophomore found other ways to produce points by going 7 for 8 on free throws in the second half.
Shining Mountain did play without freshman guard Landon Taliaferro, who suffered an ankle injury during Thursday’s quarterfinals. Miller did not rule out Taliaferro for Saturday’s finale.
“We knew they were a team that knows how to win because they’ve won the past four years in a row,” Johnston said. “We knew we’d have to play our best basketball to beat them, and I think we did. We knew they like to penetrate, so we tried to give them space and make them shoot it. That kind of worked out.”
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Shining Mountain 64, Caliche 40
At 1stBank Center
Davidson 2 2-2 7, Gandee 2 8-13 12, Stieb 0 1-2 1, Kingsley 1 0-0 2, Debus 0 2-4 2, Troester 0 0-0 0, Yahn 2 1-3 5, Kuskie 4 1-2 9, Chartier 1 0-0 2. Totals 12 15-26 40.
SHINING MOUNTAIN (23-2)
Feigal 2 0-0 4, Bremner 6 3-7 15, Beal 4 2-2 10, Johnston 3 7-8 13, Cantwell 9 2-4 20, Cherin 0 2-2 2, Hussey 0 0-0 0. Totals 24 16-23 64.
Score by quarters:
Caliche 7 7 11 15 — 40
Shining Mountain 17 12 13 22 — 64
3-point field goals — Caliche (1): Davidson; Shining Mountain (0): Total fouls — Caliche 22, Shining Mountain 19. Fouled out — Davidson.