By Jon Miller
Denver – The Chaparral Wolverines used a 20-0 run in the second half to defeat the ThunderRidge Grizzlies 58-46 in the boys 5A Final Four Friday night at the Denver Coliseum. It wasn’t just the rally the helped propel the Wolverines to the win, it was Tanner Giles.
“Tanner Giles was special for us offensively when other guys were struggling to find their shot,” Chaparral coach Tellus Truesdale said.
Giles scored a game high 21 points and kept his team within striking distance until help arrived with his teammate.
“We had to have someone step up. At half time we had a talked and one thing I mentioned was the sad feeling that we felt last year and how we don’t want to feel that again,” Giles said. “All of our seniors had to step it up and I really took that to heart. It was a fun game and a great team win.”
Both teams ended the first quarter in a 14-14 tie, with Giles scoring half of the Wolverines points. ThunderRidge extended its lead to 31-21 at the half while holding the Wolverines to just two field goals and 7 points in the second quarter. Chaparrals points came from Drew Baller, who hit a three and Giles, who hit a two and a pair of free throws. Giles scored 11 of the Wolverines 21 first half points.
“They came out and kind of punched us in the mouth and we didn’t respond really well so we talked at halftime, stating that they (ThunderRidge) are too comfortable right now. The first half was their tempo and the second half was our tempo,” said Truesdale.
Trailing 35-25, Joseph Dalton hit a three pointier with 2:34 left in the third quarter to start the Wolverine rally. Chaparral held the Grizzlies to four third quarter points as they outscored their opponent 13-4 to cut the Grizzlies lead to one 35-34 after three.
The Wolverines capped their run with 5:42 left in the game when Kobe Sanders drove to the hoop for a left-handed layup. Sanders was fouled on the play and had to lead the game with leg cramps. Drew Baller hit the free throw in Sanders place to put his team up 45-35.
“Defense was the main thing we were talking about. They are just a taller team, so we wanted to scare them out on offense and speed them up,” Giles said. “In the first half we were losing our man and giving up open shots. In the second half, we tried to lock in on defense and keep our man in front of us and good things happened from that. It was night and day between the two halves.”
In a span a 4:52, the Wolverines turned a 10-point deficit into a 10-point lead, while holding the Grizzlies scoreless.
“I didn’t realize that until we got into the locker room and someone said something. That is pretty crazy, impressive,” Truesdale stated of the run. “Tizell Lewis has been the heart of our team. He doesn’t score a lot, but he changes the game defensively. With his intensity, our guys fed off that and they have all year and tonight we stepped up.”
Kevin Sax layup with 2:59 left in the game cut the Wolverines lead to four, 47-43. Chaparral closed out the game with an 11-3 run to take the 58-46 win.
“If our team is not providing, then we need that one person to step up and they will gather around my energy and that is what they did,” Giles said. “In the second half Tizell (Lewis) helped by turning it up on defense, Kobe (Sanders) started getting to the bucket, Joseph (Dalton) was playing well and Dalton (Waldron) with the rebounds and definitely everyone fed off the energy and I am glad it could start off from me.
Chaparral will play Rangeview in todays 5A State Championship game at 8:30.
Giles finished his night with a game high 21 points for the Wolverines. Kobe Sanders, who left the game twice with leg cramps, finished with 11.
Chris Franquemont led the Grizzlies with 13.