Resurrection Christian starts fast, holds off Lutheran late in Class 4A Final 4

The seeds for Resurrection Christian’s run to the Class 4A championship game began in March 2020.

That was the year an unbeaten Cougars squad beat Lutheran in the Great 8, then could only stand by and watch as their shot at perfection was stopped two games short by COVID-19.

“We love our students and our players right now,” said head coach Ryan Yoder. “We also feel like we owe 2020 a victory because they got ripped off from a state championship.”

The second-seeded Cougars will get their chance after they ran by No. 6 Lutheran early, then held on late at the free-throw line for a 64-53 win Thursday in the 4A boys Final 4 inside Denver Coliseum. Yoder scored nine of his game-high 17 points in a 17-10 first quarter as Resurrection Christian secured a spot in Saturday’s 11:45 a.m. title game against No. 17 Holy Family.

It will be the Cougars’ first championship round appearance since 2016, although the 2020 group certainly would’ve had a good shot to make it there at 25-0 in the 3A Final 4.

“We didn’t like how their season got canceled due to COVID,” sophomore guard Ty Yoder said. “And we feel like it’s our turn to get their back and go win one for them.”

The Cougars (23-4) put their foot on the gas from the start, with Ty Yoder, the head coach and former CSU star’s son, sinking back-to-back jumpers as part of a 6-0 run to begin the game. Yoder closed out the quarter with a corner 3, then Cody Michelson began the second with a 3 of his own for a 20-10 lead.

Lutheran (18-9) spent the rest of the game trying to claw its way back. But with the Lions struggling to finish over Resurrection Christian’s disciplined, physical defense — even when the Lions got the ball in the post — they went into the break down 28-16.

“You hope not to have one of those (rough shooting nights) here, and kudos to (the Cougars) too,” said Lutheran coach Bill Brandsma, whose team shot 40.9% from the field. “… They just weren’t allowing us to get balanced and get in rhythm. They play that defense so incredibly hard and we didn’t hit our shots.”

The Cougars made theirs, especially at the free-throw line, where they sank 21 of 27 in the last eight minutes, with Marcus Phillips (5 of 6), Jackson Bethune (5 of 6), Cade Crutcher (6 of 8) and Jacob Barker (2 of 2) all taking turns knocking down freebies.

“We trust everybody to shoot them,” said Ty Yoder, a 95% free-throw shooter who also made 3 of 5 in the fourth. “We all believe we can hit them, so anybody can step up there.”

Related Articles

Preps |

Colorado state basketball tournaments 2023 Final Four results and coverage, March 9

Preps |

CHSAA state basketball Final 4 scouting report: Favorites, challengers, dark horses and underdogs

Preps |

Battle-tested Arapahoe eyes first state title in Class 6A girls Final 4: “We’re not done yet”

Preps |

Keeler: From school shooting to Final 4, Rudy Carey’s Denver East basketball team has angels on their shirts. And angels at their backs.

Preps |

George Gwozdecky and Valor Christian win third hockey title in last four years, beating Ralston Valley 7-3 in Class 5A championship

Junior guard Braydon Jacob led Lutheran with 17 points, including a pair of 3s that pulled Lutheran within six points twice in the fourth, while Brendan Koolenga added 13. But the Cougars held the rest of the Lions to 7-of-22 shooting from the field.

“We have a sheet that says, ‘Think big. Work hard. Settle for nothing less than excellence.’ And the first statement after that is, ‘Defense wins championships.’” Ryan Yoder said. “We believe in that. That’s what carries us through.”

Want more sports news? Sign up for the Sports Omelette to get all our analysis on Denver’s teams.

(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *