By Will Petersen
For the Courier
When you’re losing late, the game clock is a bigger enemy than a Monday morning alarm clock.
Columbine’s boys basketball team saw its season come to an end as a furious fourth-quarter rally came up short in a 61-47 loss to Arapahoe on March 2 in the second round of the 5A state tournament at Columbine High School. Arapahoe (18-7) advances to the Sweet 16 where it will face Fossil Ridge on March 6.
“We needed one more quarter. We could’ve had it,” Columbine senior Ty McMinimee said.
The Rebels, down by as many as 19 points with less than four minutes left, ripped off a 10-0 run to cut Arapahoe’s lead to 50-41. The spurt was highlighted by two long 3-pointers — one from McMinimee and one from fellow senior Jon Snow. But Arapahoe made its free throws the rest of the way, and Columbine never got any closer.
“Our guys fight. They have a lot of character. I’m proud of the run, it’s just tough to come back from down that many points,” Columbine head coach Clay Thielking said.
The loss counts as an upset if you go based on the tournament seeding. The Rebels were a No. 3 seed and the Warriors a sixth seed.
“I credit Arapahoe. They’re better than a six seed. I think they’re going to go a long way in this tournament,” Thielking said.
Columbine had difficulty scoring against Arapahoe for three and a half quarters. The Rebels scored just 13 points in the first half as the Warriors took a 23-13 lead into the break. Arapahoe continued to extend its lead until the aforementioned late Columbine run.
The scoring for Columbine was balanced. McMinimee and senior Garrett Hyde led the team with 11 points each. Senior Jack Stebbins scored nine and Snow added eight.
As a team Columbine shot 30 percent (16-of-53) from the field and 17 percent from 3-point range (3-of-18). Arapahoe played physical, man–to-man defense the whole game.
“We just had troubling finishing at the basket. It’s all on us, but it happens,” Snow said.
The 47 points were the fewest the Rebels scored in a game all year. The double-digit margin of defeat only happened one other time, at Mountain Vista on Dec. 18.
Columbine’s season ended with an 18-6 record. The team will lose six seniors.
“I’m just proud of the way we competed. We never backed down. We just kept fighting until the end. That’s all I can ever ask of my teammates,” Snow said.
This season marked the third straight year the Rebels played in at least the second round of the playoffs under Thielking.
“Right now, it hurts a lot. The further we get away from this the more we’ll be proud of everything we’ve accomplished. This group has brought our program to a really high level and it’s our job to maintain that now,” Thielking said.