LOVELAND – One year ago, almost to the day, Limon’s boys basketball team experienced heartache at Blue Arena.
Facing Sanford in the Class 2A state semifinals, the Badgers managed only 27 points in a 13-point loss to the Mustangs that ended the team’s season.

On Saturday night, against that same Sanford squad – this time for the 2A state championship – Limon eclipsed that point total in the first half alone. The Badgers were firing on all cylinders on their way to a 54-27 triumph over the Mustangs for the team’s first title in 60 years.

“I just wanted it for our program, for Limon, first time in 60 years,” Limon senior Jordan Rockwell said. “For Coach (Dirk) Pedersen – he’s been to that game several times, and we wanted to get that for him as well.”

Sanford also ended Limon’s season in the 2022 semis.

“We knew we couldn’t dwell on that feeling, the two losses we had in the semis before,” Rockwell said. “We had a new season, new team.”

One night after handing top-seeded Simla its first loss of the season despite falling behind by 11 points in the first quarter, Limon (22-5) took away the suspense early. The Badgers raced out to a 17-6 lead after one quarter, knocking down four 3-pointers. The lead grew to 17 by halftime, with Rockwell pouring in 10 of his game-high 27 points.

“They weren’t in the huddle celebrating,” Pedersen said. “They had a job to do, and they knew that they had to play 32 minutes against a Sanford team that year in, year out, they’re really good. It just wasn’t their night shooting the ball tonight.”

Sanford (22-5) fell in the 2A title game for the third year in a row. The shots weren’t falling for the Mustangs, who managed only a combined six field goals through the first three quarters. Senior Cash Caldon paced Sanford with nine points.

Limon had reached three 2A title games since 2012, the most recent coming in 2021. The Badgers are the first team outside of Wray and Yuma to win a 2A title since Holyoke did in 2017 – which had ended a run of three consecutive Sanford championships.

“We were close in ’12 and ’13,” Pedersen said. “And runners-up in ’21. But this is our sixth time in a row being here. I don’t know if anyone’s played more games on this court than Jordan Rockwell over the last three years.
“It means a lot to those kids. I’m very blessed I get to work really good coaches and really good kids in a really good community.”

Aiden Kollath added 11 points for Limon, which will graduate six seniors. Both coach and players alike reflected on what it meant to do this for the first time in 60 years.

Rockwell was the last member of the starting lineup substituted for, and he leapt into his coach’s arms as the crowd erupted behind them.

“We’ve been through a lot of battles together. It was nice,” Pedersen said. “We didn’t have that plan going into it, but it just worked out that way. I’m just happy for him and all our guys, because it’s been a long time coming.”