LOVELAND – Trailing by 10 points at halftime Saturday night, Wray’s boys basketball team refused to hit the panic button.

Even down nine points early in the fourth quarter, the Eagles kept their composure. Wray retook the lead midway through the fourth and limited Sanford to only 14 second-half points in a 45-41 victory in the Class 2A state championship game at Budweiser Events Center.

“I’ve got a great coaching staff. We came together and calmed down. We said we’ve just got to take a deep breath. We’re fine. We’re rushing, we’re trying to force stuff, on defense we’re not getting ball pressure,” Wray coach Chris Rose said. “We went in and that’s exactly what we said. Take a deep breath, get ball pressure and let’s just run through our offense.”

It’s the second championship for the Eagles (21-6) in three years.

“We always said from the beginning ‘we’ve got to go 8-0 in the postseason,’” Wray junior AB Ruiz said. “We started 0-0. That’s what we really focused on.”

Chris Arambula led Wray with 14 points, including eight in a row early in the fourth quarter. The senior knocked down two 3-pointers and two free throws to put the Eagles up 40-37 with just more than four minutes remaining in the game.

“Confidence is key,” Ruiz said. “That gave us immense confidence, and that’s really what hyped us up to do what we do best.”

Sanford struggled with missed opportunities in the second half, along with costly turnovers. The Mustangs (18-9) pulled within four at 43-39 with 54.1 seconds to go on a Cash Caldon bucket, but an Arambula free throw put the lead at five.

Sanford cut it to three points at 44-41, and after a Wray travel, the Mustangs had possession with a chance to tie.

A lobbed ball on the inbounds pass was swatted away by the 6-foot-5 Ruiz, with Wray grabbing the loose ball. Adonay Gonzalez hit a free throw on the other end to seal the victory.

“We told Adonay ‘as soon as they get the ball in foul. Don’t let him shoot,’” Rose said of the inbounds play. “They toss it over, and AB just did AB. He went up and slapped it away, and that was it.”

Joey Uyemura scored eight of his 13 points in the first half. Ruiz and Rafael Trejo combined for 17 points for the Eagles, who ended the season on a 13-game winning streak.

“I’m so proud of my team,” Ruiz said. “We stuck through it.”

McCray Larsen scored 12 points for Sanford and Ben Sittler added 11. The Mustangs had won 15 of 16 coming into the championship game, including victories over the Nos. 2 and 3 teams the first two days in Loveland.

Wray won the 2021 title with a 56-50 victory in overtime over Limon. Rose said no one was sure how a new crop of players would carry the program, but the Eagles set out to prove any doubters wrong.

“We had a similar coaching staff but everybody thought as soon as that senior class left, even last year, that we were just going to go downhill,” he said. “Our kids took pride in showing people how good they are and how dedicated they are.”