DENVER – It’s been hard for Fossil Ridge to get over the heartache of the state championship game loss they suffered a year ago at the Denver Coliseum. But beating a rival on the floor in the Class 6A boys basketball Great 8 is a good start.

The Sabercats came out with fire in the second half to pull away from Fort Collins and get a 71-58 win in the Class 6A boys basketball Great 8.

Now they’re one step closer to returning the state championship game where they suffered that heartbreaking loss to ThunderRidge a year ago.

“We came back and wanted a different outcome,” forward Nick Randall said. “We’re one game closer to that.”

The competitiveness between the two teams was never in question and the first 16 minutes of the game were proof. Fossil Ridge jumped out to an early lead, but the Lambkins made the ground in a hurry.

Luke Wagstaff scored 11 points in the first half alone for Fort Collins while Randall was perfect from the floor in that same span. He went into the locker room with 12 points.

The Sabercats stretched the lead to six points going into the fourth quarter thanks to Randall scoring 10 of their 14 points in the third quarter.

A 3-pointer from Cooper McMillin to put them up 51-42 with six and a half minutes left in the third was the true momentum kick they needed. And Randall kept doing his thing in the paint where he all of his game-high 31 points. He was an efficient 13-for-13 from the floor, a stat that plays well for a team with state championship ambitions.

“I just came out to play,” Randall said. “I made shots and it’s a great feeling to win.”

It was last year’s state championship loss that inspired the Sabercats to up their intensity at the Denver Coliseum. It didn’t matter if they played a rival or a new foe. If it was on the Coliseum floor or a rec center court in Greeley. This was simply an opportunity for the Sabercats and one that the relished.

But the work isn’t done. Randall knows that the Sabercats have more to do in order to accomplish their goals, but the thing they have going for them is that they have the experience of playing at the Coliseum.

“We’ve been here before,” he said.

And next week, they’re coming back.

(7) Regis Jesuit 47, (2) Rock Canyon 46

(Doug Ottewill/

Late heroics and untimely mistakes helped Regis Jesuit live to fight another day. The Raiders were down to their final 11 seconds, down two points when Tarea Fulcher bolted down the court. He had a clean look at a layup and made the shot, just as Aidan Peck was whistled for the foul.

Fulcher made the shot and a long court heave bounced off the backboard giving Regis Jesuit a thrilling win over Rock Canyon to advance to the Final 4.

Twice in the final minute, Regis Jesuit was the beneficiary of a goaltending call and that basket plus the foul to give the team life when it seemed dead to rights.

And now the Raiders will be in the Final 4 for the first time since 2011. Fulcher’s basket and foul shot gave him a team-high 16 points while Damarius Taylor had 15.

Gavin Hershberger led the Jaguars with 22.

The Raiders will meet Fossil Ridge at the Denver Coliseum next Friday with the winner of that game moving on to the 6A state championship game.

Regis hasn’t claimed a boys basketball title since that 2011 season when they completed a three-peat of championships, the first two of which came in overtime wins.