DENVER – The top-seeded Faith Christian boys basketball team continues to flex its muscles this postseason, but the Eagles had to pass their toughest test yet on Friday.

Scoring over 70 points in each of the first four postseason games they have played, the Eagles (24-1) constructed yet another high-scoring victory on Friday evening with a 72-67 win over No. 4 Highland (22-4) in the Class 3A Final 4 at the University of Denver’s Hamilton Gymnasium.

“It’s the Final 4 and it’s going to be a battle,” Eagles coach Abram Ziemer said. “You’re going to have to do things well because you’re going to make mistakes. The boys did that and they found a way to win at the end. Even with us being a little frenzied, it was great to see them step up and make free throws. If they would have missed the free throws, it might have been a different outcome. It was great to see them stay relaxed in the middle of the chaos and win the game.”

Having secured a spot in the state championship game for the first time since 2017, the Eagles now have an opportunity to claim their first state title since 2012.

The Eagles led 38-27 at halftime and Highland cut the lead to four points with 2 minutes, 35 seconds left in the game. The top overall seed, however, responded each time the Huskies made a run at the lead.

Eagles senior Keegan Paige, who scored 23 points in the Eagles’ quarterfinals victory over Yuma on Thursday, led all scorers with 22 points. Master Diggins scored 18 points for the Eagles and Carson Jasa scored 17.

Sawyer Morgan led the Huskies 21 points and Carson Steinke scored 16 points.

The Highland boys basketball team last won a state title in 2000. The Huskies finished runners-up in 2019.


(2) Salida 57, (6) Windsor Charter 49

(Brad Cochi)

It has been a long, long time since the Salida boys basketball team won a state title or even played for one. That all changed on Friday.

At the University of Denver’s Hamilton Gymnasium on Friday night, the No. 2-seeded Salida Spartans (25-1) won 57-49 over No. 6 Windsor Charter Academy. That victory sent the Spartans into Saturday’s 3A state championship game.

Having last won a title in 1964, the current Salida players, coach and the vast majority people working at the school are far too young to remember what was like to have Salida win a championship. The distance in time between them and the last time their program hoisted a trophy, however, won’t hinder the Spartans’ excitement nor limit their determination.

“I’ve never been in a championship game, so it feels really good,” Spartans senior Nate Yeakley said. “But it’s going to be a tough one, so we’ll see what happens.”

The Spartans led 41-38 after three quarters and led by three with 1 minutes, 39 seconds left in the game. The Spartans held the Firebirds scoreless in the final minutes while going 3 for 5 at the free-throw line down the stretch.

Daniel Edgington, who scored all seven of his points in the fourth quarter, hit a pair of fouls hots with 30.8 seconds left that gave the Spartans a five-point lead and went 1 for 2 at the line to give them a six-point lead with 9.5 seconds on the clock.

“After playing a really tough, physical game yesterday, our energy was low,” Yeakley said. “I feel like we just underestimated this team, so we weren’t giving all our energy. But, we figured it out and got the win.”

Yeakly led the Spartans with 20 points and Tristan Jackson scored 11 points.

Freshman Andrew Schams led the Firebirds with 17 points and sophomore Kellen Ball scored 14. The Firebirds will play No. 4 Highlands for third place on Saturday.

“That’s a really good team,” Yeakley said. “Even though they’re pretty young and don’t have a lot of size except for their one big guy, they really challenged us.”