DENVER – The Mesa Ridge boys basketball team continues to rise to the occasion with each opportunity to defend an unblemished record and each chance to advance closer to a state championship.

In the Class 5A Great 8, the No. 2 seed Grizzlies (26-0) kept rolling with a 55-45 victory over No. 7 Dakota Ridge (21-5) at the Denver Coliseum on Thursday. Still unbeaten. Still in the driver’s seat to claim their program’s first boys basketball state title.

“It feels great doing that, and showing out for our fans too,” Grizzlies sophomore Bryce Riehl said. “We came out with a good scheme for them and our energy was definitely there tonight, playing defense and moving around pretty fast.”

The Grizzlies showed out, for certain. Riehl was the Mesa Ridge Show’s star performer.

Riehl (13.6 ppg) poured in a game-high 25 points on 10-for-11 shooting from the floor. His 17 first-half points contributed was more than Dakota Ridge scored in total and heavily to the Grizzlies leading 31-15 at the break. Riehl went 5 for 5 five 3-pointers in the game.

“Bryce Riehl absolutely went off there in the first half, which kind of stretched it out there a little bit and gave us some room,” Grizzlies head coach Joel Babbitt said.

Aside from Riehl’s offensive explosion, Thursday’s contest turned out to be a defensive battle despite both teams averaging over 70 points in their first two playoff games.

“Watching their tape, they play good defense and that’s what we try to pride ourselves on as well,” Babbitt said. “We got a few buckets here and there but they are so disciplined and they do so many things right that I think that’s why it was such a close game. But I think both coaches would prefer it to be a low-scoring game.”

Junior and leading scorer Tevin Riehl (14 ppg) had eight points for the Grizzlies, who reached the Sweet 16 in Class 4A last year. Cyprus Woodley scored 12 and Mekhi Hubbard added six.

Sophomore Ethan Berninger (13.1 ppg) scored 11 points for the Eagles, who had won their last six games prior to Thursday. Alex Rodriguez led the team with 15 points and Carson Evans scored seven.

Mesa Ridge will face the winner of No. 3 Windsor and No. 11 Longmont in the Final Four next Friday.


(3) Windsor 62, (11) Longmont 56

(Doug Ottewill/

For the first time since 2011, the Windsor Wizards are feeling that Final 4 magic.

Windsor sustained a solid shooting attack from Longmont to leave the Denver Coliseum with a 62-56 win over the Trojans and a trip to the Final 4 for the first time in 12 years.

Clayton Wright led Windsor with 14 points and David Hageman added 10 to give Windsor a balanced scoring attack. Longmont’s Cole Corner led all scorers with 23 thanks in part to going 5-for-9 from 3-point range.

The 2011 Final 4 appearance is a fond memory for the Wizards as they beat Pueblo West to advance to the 4A title game. But that was as far as the road took them as they fell to Sterling in the state championship game.

Windsor is searching for its first state title since 1924 when it beat Canon City in an unclassified title game. To get that chance, they’ll have to beat a Mesa Ridge team that looked dominant in a win over Dakota Ridge.