Andrew St. Germain drove uncontested through the lane and laid the basketball into the hoop with 7.8 seconds left. Then, he and his Chatfield boys basketball teammates painstakingly waited and waited and waited. Time was running out on their season, and there was nothing they could do to save it.
A season in which the Chargers had won 21 consecutive games, including a 16-0 run through the 5A Jeffco League, was shockingly over as fifth-seeded Legend upset top-seeded Chatfield 51-49 in the Sweet 16 of the 5A state tournament March 6 at Chatfield Senior High School.
Legend, which won back-to-back road playoff games, including an upset at Grandview in the second round, advanced to the Great Eight, while the Chargers saw their season end with a 23-2 record.
“We had a good year. We had a great year. That's what we've got to focus on. Only one team gets to win its final game. It wasn't us,” said Chatfield Senior head coach Steve Schimpeler. “It's about the journey. The destination, the journey is very important. We had a great journey.”
Legend threatened to run Chatfield out of its own building late in the first half, outscoring the Chargers 12-4 in the first 5 minutes, 30 seconds of the second quarter to take a 29-19 lead. But Chatfield scored the next 11 points — nine to open the third quarter, including back-to-back 3-pointers from Michael Hampson, to take a 30-29 advantage.
“We finally decided to attack them. We didn't attack them in the first half. We played scared. The ball was up, and they boxed us out. We accepted it,” Schimpeler said. “The second half we actually fought for the ball. It made a little difference and allowed us to get back in the game. I just wish we had competed in both halves, not just one half.”
Chatfield continued to lead or the game was tied until the Titans' Jonathan Cosmann drilled a 3-pointer with 6:29 left to give Legend the lead for good.
“We expected to win,” Legend head coach Kevin Boley said. “We played awfully well against Grandview. I knew Chatfield was going to be incredibly tough to beat here at home, but we took care of the ball and executed offensively with our size.”
Turnovers, both in the first half and late in the game, played a major role in Chatfield's downfall.
“It was a big part of it. There were other things too, but turnovers were one of our keys, and we didn't execute enough,” said Chatfield senior Anthony Shoeboot, who finished with a team-high 14 points. Brenden Mann added 12, and Hampson finished with 10.
The Titans, who started the second half 0-for-8 from the field, hit just four field goals in the final two quarters. But it was at the free-throw line where Legend kept the Chargers at bay. Cosmann hit six of seven foul shots, while Taylor Jensen hit a pair with 12.8 seconds left to push the Titans' lead to four points. For the game, Legend was 12 of 15 from the foul line — all in the second half.
The Chargers took the ball length of the floor for St. Germain's layup, but, with the clock running out, Legend used virtually all of it before inbounding the ball and ending Chatfield's magical season. Cosmann finished with a game-high 16 points. Zach Mihalicz added 11 points and 10 rebounds for Legend.