For a three-minute stretch Friday evening, Air Academy’s Corbin Garver was as red hot on offense as anyone has been in this year’s state playoffs.

Garver scored 15 consecutive points to end the second quarter and give the Kadets a two-point lead over Frederick at the break. His surge was carried by the team into the third quarter, where they put away the game and eventually cruised to a 74-59 victory in the Class 5A boys basketball semifinal.

“As soon as I got a couple to fall on backdoor cuts, I knew I was going to be able to get going,” Garver said. “Then I got a 3 to fall and I knew I’d be able to score for the rest of the quarter.”

Garver finished with 27 points to pace the top-seeded Kadets, still four points shy of his season-best performance. He knocked down three 3-pointers and pulled down 12 boards.

Prior to the senior’s outburst, it was the No. 5 Golden Eagles doing the scoring.

Matias Aldana sparked Frederick’s early lead, scoring eight points in the first quarter, including the team’s first six points.

Air Academy amped up its aggression to start the second quarter and eventually tied it 17-17 before Frederick’s Luke Justice knocked down the game’s first 3-pointer with 2:40 left in the half. Garver answered with a deep bomb at the other end, part of his massive run to put the Kadets on top.

After a barrage of buckets to open the third quarter, Frederick retook the lead on a 3-pointer from Harry Singh. Air Academy fired back on the other end with a trey from Noah Hellem, the start of a 7-0 run for the Kadets. Frederick broke the surge with a bucket, but it was 11-3 in favor of Air Academy for the rest of the third quarter, giving them a 54-42 lead at the final intermission.

Beyond Garver, Grant Featherstone had 15 points, Max Howery had 12 and Hellem added 10 with a pair of 3-pointers. Aldana and Justice both had 17 points for Frederick.


(2) Mesa Ridge 79, (3) Windsor 52

(Doug Ottewill/

All gas, no brakes. That’s the way Mesa Ridge likes to play.

The still-undefeated Grizzlies used a frenetic defense and flying fastbreak offense to pull away in the second half and defeat Windsor 79-52 to secure a spot in the 5A state championship game.

“We just had to start playing defense in the second half,” Mesa Ridge coach Joel Babbitt said. “In the first half, we didn’t do a great job on the defensive end and they had a great plan. Windsor did a great job and they moved really well. But then we got back to defense, got some stops, those stops turned into buckets and the shots started dropping along with it.”

The No. 2 Grizzlies and the No. 3 Wizards went blow for blow in the first quarter until a string of steals and consecutive three-point plays allowed Mesa Ridge to spark a 9-2 run. Tevin Riehl capped the rally with a runner floater at the buzzer to secure a 19-13 lead.

Windsor didn’t go quietly, however, tying the game 21-21 during the first three minutes of the second quarter, capping the rally on a contested layup from Madden Smiley. From there, it was a tug-of-war, with the Grizzlies leading 31-29 as the teams went back to the locker rooms.

The Grizzlies brought the crowd into the game early during the third quarter, with Mekhi Hubbard draining three straight breakaway layups as part of an 8-2 run. Bryce Riehl stretched the lead to double digits with a corner 3-pointer and that advantage would last for another four minutes to the final break. By the midway point of the fourth quarter, the lead had eclipsed 20 points, with the Grizzlies controlling things the rest of the way.

Mesa Ridge had two players in doubles figures with Trei Ginn leading with 27 points and Bryce Riehl adding 20.
Windsor guard David Hageman not only led the Wizards in scoring with 22 points, he was also a fiend on the boards, pulling down a game-high 10 rebounds, including three on the offensive end.

Mesa Ridge will seek its first basketball title in the school’s 25-year history as they take on top-seeded Air Academy at 7:15 p.m. Saturday.