DENVER – As the No. 1 seed in last year’s state tournament, Kent Denver’s title hopes came to a stunning halt before they ever stepped foot in the Denver Coliseum.

This time around, the Sun Devils aren’t leaving anything to chance. They’re playing sound basketball and not letting mistakes sink them as they’ve moved into the Class 4A state title game after beating Colorado Academy 68-56 in the Final 4.

This is the first basketball state title game appearance since 2013 for the Sun Devils and they’re trying to claim their first state title since 1997.

“It means everything, sophomore Caleb Fay said. “I’m super excited.”

Fay led all scorers in the game with 24 points and was one of two Kent players to score in double figures with Clay Tierney being the other with 14.

They had a chance to lock up momentum early in the third quarter but an offensive foul by Nicholas Buchenau led to him getting a technical and the Mustangs cut the lead to just four points in the ensuing possessions.

Fay ended the CA run with a 3-pointer and Kent eventually settled down before the Mustangs were able to seize total control of the game.

“We just have to support our teammates and continue to help them out and not get on them,” Fay said.

With the game still tight in the fourth quarter, Tierney drilled a 3 from the corner forcing a Colorado Academy timeout. At that point, it felt like the game was Kent’s to lose and the Sun Devils showed no sign of letting up and leaving anything to chance.

“Having our fans out here, it really turns us up,” Fay said. “We were 1-1 [against Colorado Academy] coming into this game and it feels really good to come out with a win.”

The Sun Devils last played for a state title in 2013, where they lost to Pagosa Springs 53-49 in the 3A championship game. The only state championship for the Sun Devils came back in 1997 when they beat Eaton 51-44. That was also in the 3A title game.

Resurrection Christian 51, Lutheran 45

(Dan Mohrmann/

It wasn’t really a coincidence with Ty Yoder held scoreless in the first half that Resurrection Christian was struggling.

It was less of a coincidence that when his shots started falling, the Cougars started winning.

Yoder scored all 13 of his points in the final two quarters to lead Rez to a thrilling comeback win over Lutheran to reach its second straight 4A basketball championship game.

As one of the top offensive players in his entire league, Yoder’s ability to score isn’t essential for the Cougars, but it’s certainly vital.

“I think it’s important,” Yoder said. “But the main thing is being the vocal leader. Even if I’m not scoring I’m bringing the right energy. I knew the game would eventually come to me if I kept attacking and kept playing smart.”

He hit a layup and knocked down a couple of free throws to get his initial points. But it was knocking down his first 3-pointer of the night that caused a major shift in momentum throughout the Denver Coliseum.

“I totally agree,” he said. “It was nice to see a couple of shots go in. That was definitely a big moment.”

Jacob Barker scored a game-high 18 points and among the many big men on the floor, he was by far the best.

The Cougars return to the 4A title game where they got beat by Holy Family 53-43. The lesson of that loss has been present in the minds of the Cougars all season and they finally get a chance to put the memory of that loss to bed once and for all.

“The job is not finished,” Yoder said. “There is still so much work left to be done. We’re more mature than we were last year and we’re hungry to win.”