LOVELAND—To most basketball fans, or fans of any sport for that matter, Sedgwick County is so far northeast of…well, anything in Colorado that it may as well be in Nebraska.
Thursday, however, the top-seeded SC boys’ basketball team (representing Julesburg and Ovid Revere High Schools) found itself dangerously close to the 2017 Class 2A State Championships’ ultimate ‘underdog’—defending three-time State Champion, but current No. 8 seed Sanford—in the opening ‘Great Eight’ phase.
And Derick Faucette, in particular, wasn’t afraid to bare his teeth.
“Being a senior on the team…. Me and Casey knew we had to take over, and really show these guys what could happen, what great things we could do,” he said. “They’re the Number One, they’ve got something to lose! And we were like, ‘Just give it everything you’ve got.’ We’re ‘supposed’ to lose this, so let’s go shock everyone!”
Crashing to the basket for a hard two closing the quarterfinal’s first half, pulling the Indians back to 23-18 at the break, the senior guard started the third quarter with a three-pointer, then after Cougar junior Cade McKinley sank two free throws, drilled two himself (in three attempts) to whittle down what had been a 23-13 deficit to 25-23.
But when SHS needed him the most he was—and wasn’t—there.
Wasn’t in that he couldn’t step to the foul line again, with 2:31 left in the entire contest, while he had a cut on his hand quickly covered after drawing a foul. But after junior Kylan Anderson checked in, nailed two clutch freebies in his place, at last tying the count at 36-all, Faucette was immediately inserted again—and helped force a turnover which senior Casey McDaniel rushed ahead to junior Cooper Canty for the go-ahead transition layup.
But after McKinley halved a pair from the stripe, halving Sanford’s tenuous advantage, Sedgwick County senior Chad Mikelson was able to swoop past two defenders for the deciding finger-roll with less than 30 seconds remaining inside an ear-splitting Budweiser Events Center.
Faucette and a friend were then forced to foul near midcourt following a turnover, and Mikelson then added an insurance make to all but clinch a harrowing 40-38 win—not only avoiding an 8-over-1 stunner on paper, but also dethroning the classification’s long-reigning rulers.
“We did play well as far as competing, stuff like that. But we had too many mistakes early, and all of it takes a toll; you can’t just look at the end of the game,” said head coach Rhett Larsen. “But I was real proud of the guys; they played hard and came to win. Just fell short.”
“You know, we didn’t end up getting the win, but I really think this showed the younger guys what they could be,” Faucette said. “We’ve still got [possibly] two more games, and we can at