AURORA — Eaglecrest freshman Kristopher Coleman was clutch for the Raptors in the boys basketball Class 6A Sweet 16 game Saturday afternoon.

No. 9-seeded Ralston Valley grabbed its first lead of the game 46-45 with 1:59 left in the fourth quarter when sophomore Caiden Braketa made a pair of free throws. However, Coleman answered with a 3-pointer on the next possession and the No. 8 Raptors never trailed again in a 53-49 victory.

“I knew the team trusted me,” Coleman said of his huge 3-pointer on his way to a team-high 13 points. “I just knocked it down.”

Coleman came into Saturday’s playoff game having just two double-digit scoring efforts, but with junior Lucas Kalimba still recovering from coming back from an injury, the freshman guard was counted on by Eaglecrest coach Jarris Krapcha.

“It has been an ongoing thing with him (Coleman) trying to get him to do more,” Krapcha said of his starting freshman. “We needed another kid to step up. It’s been a constant thing. You’ve got to score. We need to be aggressive. You need to look for your shot. It has been kind of up and down.”

It was defintely an up game for Coleman, who also helped seal the victory and trip to the Great 8 at the Denver Coliseum on Thursday, Feb. 29.

Photo by Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Public Schools

Coleman made 3-of-6 free throws in the final minute. He sunk the final two free throws with 3.9 seconds remaining with a handicap. Coleman had his left contact knocked out of his eye on the previous possession, but still made both free throws despite blurred vision to give Eaglecrest the 4-point lead.

“I’m just kind of worried about this win right now,” Coleman said. “Now it’s go time.”

Senior Sir Devin Roberts (12 points), along with juniors Ladavian King (7 points) and Garrett Barger (7 points) helped the Raptors advance to the Great 8 for the first time since 2022.

Eaglecrest (18-7 record) will face No. 1 and undefeated Fruita Monument (25-0) on Thursday. The Wildcats eliminated No. 17 Broomfield 61-44 on Saturday afternoon. While Fruita is undefeated, it hasn’t played a team that is remaining in the 6A state tournament.

“(Ralston Valley) is a very well-coached team that runs a lot of great sets,” Krapcha said. “They are discipline on defense and they have two really good players (Tanner and Caiden Braketa) that can score the ball. We knew it was going to be a battle.”

Ralston Valley (19-6) stayed within striking distance the entire game at Eaglecrest High School. Junior Tanner Braketa played in just a dozen games this season after undergoing knee surgery this summer. Tanner wasn’t cleared to play until after Winter Break.

The two-time Jeffco League MVP poured in 24 points in the final three quarters to lead the Mustangs. It was his second 20-plus game this season.

“Tanner is so freakin good,” Krapcha said. “You’ve got to help. You’ve got to worry about his shot. It was a team approach.”

Tanner and his younger brother Caiden had drives to the basket trying to tie or take the lead in the final minute, but the Raptors’ defense held strong.

“(Eaglecrest) was in foul trouble so we had to do that,” Tanner said of the Mustangs attacking the rim in the final minutes.

Ralston Valley graduates senior starters Jackson Hansen and Mason Trebilcock, but will return several of key players that got a lot of varsity experience this season.

“We’ll get more healthy this summer,” Tanner said. “Get more athletic, bigger, strong and faster over the summer. That’s the focus.”

Photo by Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Public Schools