4A boys basketball semifinals: Pueblo South punches ticket to title game

The Pueblo South boys basketball team is on the verge of running and awarding its way to the program’s first title in 21 years and a place in the record books as Colorado’s first high school boys basketball team to win it all with a female head coach.

In the Class 4A Final Four on Friday at the Denver Coliseum, the No. 2-seed Colts won 67-56 over No. 6 Frederick. That win pushed the Colts into the state semifinals for the second straight year.

With that big penultimate step taken, there’s only one left for the Colts to take.

“Coach said it in the locker room after the game, ‘The job’s not finished,’” Colts senior Jace Bellah said. “We’re ready to go. We’re going to have a tough game tomorrow and we’re going to be preparing all the way up until the game starts.”

The Frederick Warriors (21-5), who upset defending champion Mead in the Great 8 to make their first Final Four appearance since they won a state title in 1956, matched the Colts (27-0) up and down the floor early on. But despite trailing 13-8 after one quarter, Pueblo South caught fire and outscored the Warriors, 20-4, in the second to lead 28-17 at halftime.

“We had a good game plan all week but we had a few gambles in the first quarter,” Colts junior Ray J. Aragon said. “But in the second quarter, we adjusted quick and our team got out front and finished. I think when we started rebounding and boxing out, we got on a run and I told the team that’s when we would get ahead going into halftime.”

The Colts’ second-quarter run turned out to be the separation they needed, as they were able to main a double-digit cushion throughout most of the second half and enter Saturday’s championship game unbeaten. Colts senior guard Terrance Austin led all scorers with 25 points, shooting 10 for 13 from the field. Maurice Austin scored 17 points for the Colts and Mario Esquivel added 10.

Bryce Conover led Frederick with 17 points. Matias Aldana and Jacoby Conway each scored 10.

Positioned to make a run at history, Colts head coach Shannan Lane said any potential personal achievement isn’t top of mind. In fact, she and the Colts remain solely focused on defeating No. 1 Lewis-Palmer in the 4A boys title game at 1:30 pm on Saturday.

“It’s funny because I haven’t thought of that,” Lane said. “I just don’t go there. I’ve been on this floor too many times and lost in that state title game. Five years ago, we (Pueblo South’s girls team) were here five times in a row and we lost to Evergreen twice and we lost to Mullen before I hung it up for a year and came back. I really think winning state’s a lot of luck. You have to catch fire at the right time, you do. I know they’ll come out tomorrow night and fight.”

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