Prep playoffs march to championships
The Aspen Times
High school postseason playoffs are marching toward their annual conclusion.
In boys high school lacrosse, only two teams remain in the Class 4A picture — No. 1 Wheat Ridge and No. 2 Air Academy.
Wheat Ridge (14-4) advanced to the Class 4A state championship game with a 13-8 victory over Valor Christian in the state semifinals Wednesday night. Valor Christian had eliminated the Aspen Skiers in the state quarterfinals, 15-8.
No. 2 Air Academy (17-1) reached the state final with a tough, 6-4 victory over Steamboat Springs. The game was played at Legacy Stadium with Air Academy taking advantage of Steamboat penalties. The Kadets scored three goals with a man advantage. They added another goal at the end of a Steamboat penalty shift.
Steamboat led 2-1 early on goals by Ben Wharton and Christian Ramirez.
But Air Academy scored three times in the second period to take a 4-2 halftime lead.
After extending the lead to 6-2, Air Academy gave up goals to Steamboat’s Peter White and a second goal by Ramirez.
The Sailors closed the season 14-4. The playoff game also was the final one for longtime Steamboat Springs coach Bob Hiester, who will retire.
Hiester started three high school lacrosse programs in Colorado, spanning 45 years.
He coached at Smoky Hill, Grandview and Steamboat Springs, launching the Sailors program in 2002.
The Class 4A state championship game will be at 2 p.m. Saturday at Sports Authority Field at Mile High in Denver.
In the Class 5A boys state title game, No. 1 Cherry Creek (14-5) will take on No. 7 Arapahoe (16-3) at 4:30 p.m. Saturday.
The final area team was ousted from the Class 3A Girls State Soccer Championships on Wednesday night.
Coal Ridge lost a 2-0 decision to Kent Denver in the state quarterfinals.
Kent Denver had defeated Grand Valley, 6-1, in the second round of the state playoffs. Grand Valley had opened with a 4-0 win over Denver Science and Technology in the opening round.
Kent Denver will play Peak to Peak (Lafayette) in one Class 3A state semifinal. Kent is 11-5-2; Peak to Peak is 14-2-2.
Peak to Peak ousted Roaring Fork 3-0 in the second round of the playoffs. Roaring Fork had beaten Front Range Christian, 1-0, in the first round.
The Classical Academy will play Colorado Academy in the other 3A semifinal. The Classical Academy, from Colorado Springs, is 14-2-1.
Colorado Academy, located in Denver, is 13-4-0.
The final eight teams are set for the state championships in Class 3A baseball.
The eight teams will play a double-elimination tournament the next two weekends in Greeley.
The No. 1 seed is unbeaten, defending state champion Eaton (20-0). The Reds will take on No. 8 Kent Denver (10-8) in the first game of the double-elimination tournament.
Kent Denver reached the final eight by beating Basalt in extra innings (9-2) and then stopping Bennett in last weekend’s district tournament.
Also in the top half of the bracket, No. 4 La Junta (15-6) will play No. 5 Holy Family (17-3).
No. 2 Faith Christian (18-2) will take on No. 7 Lamar (15-5) in the other half of the bracket.
Also No. 3 Bayfield (19-2) will take on No. 6 Brush (14-6).
The Class 4A field also is down to the final eight teams.
They include No. 1 Pueblo West (17-4) versus No. 8 Greeley Northridge (15-6) in the first round of the 4A double-elimination tournament.
No. 4 Canon City (13-8) will play No. 5 Durango (11-10).
No. 3 Windsor (13-8) will play No. 6 Mountain View (14-7).
And No. 2 Montrose (19-2) will play No. 7 Valor Christian (14-7).
In the Class 2A state playoffs, Paonia and Hotchkiss both are alive heading into quarterfinals and semifinals on Saturday.
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Had Hailey Swirbul decided against going to Europe, she would not have finished with a career-best result in Friday’s World Cup opener. Yes, there was a time, and not long ago, when the U.S. ski team member and Roaring Fork Valley native questioned her desire to put on a race bib.