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Chargers get sour ending to Sweet 16

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By Brian Forbes

There is one unfortunate consequence of March Madness: It can leave you quite, uh, mad.

The games are close and crazy, the shots are big, the crowds are raucous and rude, and a thousand little moments accumulate into victory or defeat.

Add overtime into the equation, and you might need a straightjacket to stay in your seat.

“In a game like that, it’s always a free throw, a rebound or a turnover,” coach Gary Anderson said.

The Chatfield Chargers saw one of their better seasons in the past decade come to an end March 2 when they were ousted from the Sweet 16 round of the Class 5A state tournament 65-64 in overtime by Highlands Ranch.

From the neutral perspective, it was a fantastic display of athletic one-upmanship. But in the end, the No. 3-seeded Falcons (21-4) got to the storm the court with their fans, while the No. 2-seeded Chargers (20-5) shuffled off to a locker room where they had previously celebrated winning their first Jefferson County League title since 2007.

“We knew they were a really good team,” senior Landon Vermeer said. “It came down to the wire, which we knew was going to happen, and they got the better of us.”

Vermeer got Chatfield’s last rebound and shot of the season.

After the Falcons went up by one with eight seconds left in overtime, the subsequent free throw by Falcons’ senior Fabian Sebastion bounced out. Vermeer grabbed the board and raced down the floor, checking the clock and his options.

“I looked at the clock and I still had three seconds when I got to the 3-point line, so I was like, ‘I might as well get to the basket,’” he said.

Vemeer went to his right, jumped against a defender and banked the ball high off the glass. It banked down, off the rim and out, followed by the buzzer and bedlam.

Chatfield coach Gary Anderson talked with perspective afterward. He praised Vermeer’s decision to attack the rim and offered no complaints about the details of a physical and frantic game. Anderson simply spoke of how he’ll miss the senior players, who had become young men.

Anderson, who stepped in for coach Steve Schimpeler at the start of the season, said he is excited about returning to his job as JV coach next season.

Vermeer finished with 17 points, senior Trevor Wages had another monster outing, posting 20 points, 17 rebounds and blocking three shots before fouling out in overtime. Senior Jordan Carter had a solid third quarter and finished with 13 points.

There were two sideshows to the game, one inside and the other out. Inside, Wages and Sebastion battled for control of the paint. Outside, Chatfield guard Dean Wright battled Darryl Wright for ball control, big passes and big shots.

The Falcons ultimately ruled both subplots. Darryl Wright hit one of the bigger shots in overtime, an uncontested 3-pointer from the top of the key to chop Chatfield’s 60-56 lead down to a point. Dean Wright answered with a great mid-range jumper with 24 seconds left to put the Chargers up 64-63.

Sebastion was fouled by Wages with 57 seconds left, sending the 6-foot-8 center to the bench for good. Sebastion tied the game with a free throw, then hit the game-winner in the final seconds when some zippy perimeter passing got him open underneath for a layup over Kyle Slavin.

Wages scored 13 points by halftime, largely because the teams were a combined 1-for-17 from 3-point range, but didn’t attempt a shot in the third quarter. His first shot of the second half came with 4:17 left in the fourth quarter.

“They (defensed) the guards aggressively,” Wages said. “It’s not like it hasn’t happened before.”

The Falcons lost in the Glenn Wilson Region final March 5 to No. 4-seeded Aurora Central, which had upset top-seeded Fountain-Fort Carson in the Sweet 16.

Highlands R. 16    8    16    16    9    -    65

Chatfield        11    19    14    12    8    -   64

Highlands Ranch — Wright 3 0-0 8, Olson 7 3-3 18, Sebastion 9 6-8 24, Antilla 0 0-2 0, Byrd 5 0-0 10, Bucholtz 0 0-0 0, Gosz 1 0-1 2, Haldorson 1 1-2 3. Totals 26 10-16 65.

Chatfield — Wright 4 0-0 8, Evans 1 1-2 4, Vermeer 6 4-5 17, Wages 7 6-9 20, Carter 5 2-2 13, Slavin 1 0-0 2, Vaninger 0 0-0 0, Teague 0 0-0 0, Garcia 0 0-0 0. Totals 24 13-18 64.

3-point goals — Wright 2, Olson; Evans, Vermeer, Carter. Total fouls — Highlands Ranch 21, Chatfield 16. Fouled out — Olson, Byrd; Wages, Slavin. Technicals — None.